The British countryside is being killed by herbicides and insecticides!

Discussion in 'Holistic Farming' started by Ptarmigan, Jun 1, 2018.

  1. Ptarmigan

    Ptarmigan Member

    Interesting, so can we assume then that you have no actual evidence, or real arguments, to back up your attitude towards the evidence & findings of all those credible organisations?
  2. If they think its really a problem then we must be paid more to managed the farmed environment to be able to produce more biodiversity. Current environmental schemes are loss making or very very marginal. Commodity production is also very very marginal. So its really difficult to know what to do - and if you do to much good habitat management they can slap restrictions on you. Its hard to get the balance right - nothing in the current Glastir scheme will cover the costs adequately for me alas.

    If think tanks want change I am quite happy to change to even more environmentally friendly methods and set more land aside for wildlife management but we must be paid to do it because we can't afford to do it for free.
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  3. A1an

    A1an Member

    The problem is that if you look hard enough you can find evidence that supports the arguments of both sides.

    Now I'm not saying who's right and who's wrong as I know the square root of fuk all when it comes to the pesticide in agriculture argument.

    Thinking outside the box though, why has this appeared now what with our wishy washy chemicals and tight application restriction? I could understand it more if it was 30yrs ago when the land almost glowed in the dark with some of the treatments that were allowed back then.
    Old McDonald likes this.
  4. melted welly

    melted welly Member

    So the author of the article drove up the A1 and then looked up some stats to back up an assumption he then made. Great.

    I've no doubt there were more more wildflowers and biodiversity in an area where they were specifically farmed for compared to an area where food for human consumption, free of pests and weeds was grown. Groundbreaking stuff.

    As farmers we farm the land and we farm the system dictated by government. Field enlargement, hedge removal, large drainage schemes - all hated by conservationists - all subsidised parts of government policy at some part of the last 70yrs. Not policy set out to destroy the countryside, policy set out to produce food to feed the nation.

    Times change, priorities change and policy changes. Now environmental schemes are subsidised, hedgerow creation, wildlife corridors, water directives.

    I believe we are heading in the right direction, life is about balance and in my corner of the countryside, natures doing just fine. Species ebb and flow, fewer sparrows - more chaffinch, then it swings back the other way. I've no references on hand to back this up other than living in it 24hrs a day. The fields I find the most skylarks and brown hares are the ones where we grow the carrots, a far more intensive agchem programme than a field of wheat.

    What happens with the countryside in the green ideal? The largest area of land under the plough in the UK was over 100yrs ago as the nation struggled to feed itself through the German naval blockade of ww1. That was organic farming with a fraction of todays population, an agri labour force ten times that of today and it couldn't cope, so how would that work now?

    Or do we just export food production somewhere else out of sight and mind and so long as we buy fair trade we can then float through life on our cloud of self satisfaction and pretend we're all "right on man."
  5. no you can assume that I don't want to interact with you
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  6. mikep

    mikep Member

    These credible organisations would be more credible of they factored in the affect of climate change and the run of late springs and wet cold summers we have been having. If the weather is cold and wet at animal breeding times numbers decline. This year had been a classic and I'm sure it will further hit wildlife numbers. The number of insects is very low and that is extremely weather driven and this knocks on and affects the animals that depends on then for food.
    Lapwings here have been almost exterminated despite my best efforts by the large increase in Badgers do I shoot the Badgers?
    Where are all the swallows? That's nothing to do with us but the increasing distance they have to fly because of habitat loss in their winter home.
    I would bet my life that given a run of kind years the numbers would bounce back for many of these species.
    None of the organisations involved want an intangible cause but a whipping boy so bring on the usual suspects.
  7. How many fungicides are used in U.K. arable farming

    Of all the pesticides - fungicides are possibly the most damaging to a wide range of life
    Soil health
    Plant health
    Animal health
    Our health

    Fungi are crucial to so many aspects of the natural world - nah, fudge it, let's just do another ear wash just to be safe
  8. mikep

    mikep Member

    I think I can say that no-one wants to spray for fun. Why waste time and money? Unfortunately where we are is at a point where the genetic base of our major crops is so narrow that we are forced into it by their lack of resilience.
    If we stopped spraying then no magic unicorns would appear and kiss us into a beautiful world where everything is fine. A shotgun approach as the Russian and NGO funded green lobby want could be fatal. It may be done through stages and the first is the realisation of any problem.
    The blind reactionary state we are in at present leads to unwanted outcomes such as protecting the Badger had led to increasing numbers, not a bad thing a far as I am concerned, but a bit of a bugger for Lapwings and hedgehogs which are part of its diet.
    Populations go up and down and at present we have in some areas a very bad fall in numbers of mammals and insects. This is not universal and neither is it arable v grazing so I believe it must be more climate related.
    We are getting overrun with rabbits, deer and Badgers, the number of field mice last year was amazing and this year we have more kestrels as a result. Buzzards have come from none to six pairs but swallows have disappeared. Small bird numbers are down but corvids up, any chance these are related or is it the sprays I use?
    The whole thing is very complex and a statement as in the title is as ridiculous as saying everything is hunky dory. If I had one wish to help this I would take all seed breeding away from agchem and publically fund it so the emphasis can be firmly put on breeding resilient low input varieties that may sacrifice some yield but don't need the spend on inputs that we have at present.
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  9. Ptarmigan

    Ptarmigan Member

    "“It is hard not to see a link between some of the bird number declines and drops in insect populations we are experiencing. There are very close correlations in many cases. But proving there is a causative link – in establishing the one effect is leading to the other – is much more difficult.”

    We appear to be making tracts of land inhospitable to most forms of life. If we lose insects, it all collapses

    An illustration of the problem is provided by one of the few cases where a causative link between insect loss and bird-number declines has been established: the grey partridge, Gibbons said. “During the 70s and 80s, pesticides were killing off plants on which sawflies and other insects fed. Grey partridge chicks feed on these insects and so this process led to a decline in their numbers – and that has since become dramatic.” In fact, the grey partridge’s drop in numbers has brought its population to less than 5% of its figure last century.

    The crucial point is that researchers were able to show that these twin declines were connnected by manipulating herbicide levels in places where chicks were being reared. When herbicide levels went up, insect levels went down and so did bird numbers. “That manipulation provided the causative link,” said Gibbons. “It was possible to change insect numbers and so see the impact. However, such research is difficult to carry out and is very rare.”"

    In The Guardian today - 17th June 2018:

    Where have all our insects gone?
  10. Dry Rot

    Dry Rot Member

    For a few years I leased an area of young forestry plantation for shooting and falconry. I slow released ex-layer grey partridges. The following year I was seeing big clutches of partridges, I recall one brood of around 30! That year there was a lot of fine weather. No sprays were used on the forestry but I did have feeding stations

    The next year, the summer was cold and damp. Partridge clutches were in the low single numbers. Again, no sprays were used. No gray partridges were shot during the open season but I think I caught about half a dozen with hawks. The feeding stations were maintained.

    Over the next few seasons, the partridges disappeared altogether. How many wet days does it take to kill young game poults? Not many. Take away their feed (insects) and chill them (wet grass and damp weather) and they die. It's very simple. Same for my free range poultry.

    Stop looking around for gamekeepers and farmers to blame. Everyone knows you can prove whatever you like with statistics. Get out there and observe.
    Lofty1984, theboytheboy and robo like this.
  11. melted welly

    melted welly Member

    Again, you are referencing the 70s and 80s and presenting it in the context of today. Tiresome
    Bootneck likes this.
  12. farmers seem to spend so much of their time just killing things . . .

    an explosion or overpopulation of any organism shows that the system is out of balance

    I keep reading about direct drilling on tff - people who say it will save the world & others who say it doesn't work
    both are wrong
    however, I also keep reading about the sheer quantities of fungicides used in uk arable cropping. FUNGICIDES. Just stop & think about that. Stop & think about the many valuable, crucial roles fungi play in soil health, plant health, animal health & ultimately our health. Then lets go do our 4th T2 or whatever its called, or another prophylactic "earwash" spray, just in case
    FUNGICIDES . . .
    Then they wonder why there are issues with stubble retention, decomposition of organic matter, soil health, compaction, infiltration, water holding capacity, dry weather ( FFS ), slugs etc ????
    No point explaining the VITAL role of fungi in soil here - if you don't already know at least something about it you shouldn't be farming
    but, the implications spread further than ( just ? ) soil health.
    insects can cause big problems in agriculture, yes
    guess what ? MOST diseases of insects ( that help to keep their populations in control ) are fungal . . .
    so, by using fungicides, not only are there all the negative impacts on soil health, but you are also having an impact on pest insect populations. Slug pellets anyone ??
    Sometimes I just read TFF & wonder why ?
    WTF ?
    And they think they are the BEST, they are the PINNACLE & anyone who suggests there may be different ways, cheaper ways, more effective ways, regenerative ways, is just some greeny lefty hippy with no idea, intent on destroying them, or some jealous foreign competitor who obviously isn't as productive as them & needs to belittle them as much as possible because they cant compete on yield or whatever dick waving measure they use
    TBH - ive had a gutfull of the self righteousness, the moaning, the whining, the exceptionalism. From the lot. The ploughers, the DD ( they seem so amateurish & naïve in many ways, bless'em ). All solutions can only be bought, sprayed or spread, from an oilbasedpetrochemicalindustialsyntheticenergyhungry source, reductionist mindset
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  13. The trouble with these “reports” is that they, the newspapers and the organisations who have an axe to grind, latch on to the easiest target and embellish with wilfully ignorant glee rather than tackle the more complex issue which might upset their urban readership.

    The favourite is hedge removal! Hands up who’s removed a hedge in the last 30 years? Now, hands up who’s planted one? I’m willing to bet my meagre, child reduced beer allowance that more have been planted in the last 30 years than have been removed, yet that stick is always taken out to beat the farmer with.

    Plant protection product and fertiliser use has consistently reduced year on year for the last 30 years, due to IPM strategies, legislation, increased organic area and land lost to development, yet we are supposedly using ever more of them?

    Beetle banks, field margins, wild flower mixes, set aside (that was), endless NGO’s sending smiley faces around to “advise” farmers, yet farmers are still murdering the countryside?! Is it possible that all the smiley advice is actually wrong and that the powers that be are simply ignoring the real problem. There are too many people in the UK!

    Housing, roads and roundabouts are the reason hedges are pulled out these days, not farmers. The inconvenient truth is that the over zealous protection of badgers are one of the key reasons hedge hogs and wild birds are in decline.

    Domestic cats do more damage to bird life than even the most trigger happy farmer, but we can’t say that of course for fear of upsetting the crazy cat ladies who also donate their savings to the RSPB, once their half cat-eaten remains have been discovered.

    There are more trees in the UK now than there has been for 400 years, but apparently the British landscape has been completely denuded of these vital pieces of countryside apparatus.

    How many people patrol the footpaths that cross their land picking up rubbish and dog sh1t that the agriculturally outraged general public leave behind?

    Now, I’m not saying that farmers are completely absolved of guilt on the environmental vandalism charge, it is far from a perfect system, but balance is needed in the reporting and those publishing these articles need to be held to account. But also the public, and government, need to accept some responsibility for the current situation. It is they who have demanded accessibility over seasonality, price over credibility, aesthetic quality over nutritional quality and convenience over knowledge, then lambast the farmer for obliging them.

    Rant over!
    Last edited: Jun 18, 2018
  14. very well said, much , more eloquent than I could manage

    the sooner the human species is obliterated & nature can just get on with things, the better . . .

    nihilism - the only ideology or ism worth following . . .
    foobar likes this.
  15. the trouble is, the sins of the 70's & 80's are yet to revisit us at some point in the future . . .
    due to the actions of the past, we are on a tipping point of eco system collapse that future generations will not recover from
    we are all fudgeed . . .
    whatever we do now
    it is too late
    time to face your god, accept your responsibilities, bend over & kiss your arse goodbye
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  16. melted welly

    melted welly Member

    Not sure that's true, have you considered writing a column for the guardian?
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  17. Ptarmigan

    Ptarmigan Member

    Report from 'Bird Life international, not from the 70s or 80s but - 13th June 2018.

    The top five threats to birds!

    No surprise to anyone, I'm sure, that Industrial Farming is the #1 threat to birds.

    They clearly believe part of the solution is better controls when it comes to the use of Pesticides & Herbicides.

    e.g. "In exchange for not using pesticides or herbicides, and refraining from hunting or logging, farmers receive a premium price for their produce."

    Perhaps it's high time that this approach was tried in the UK.

    So I maintain that this is not an old problem from the 70s & 80s at all, but rather a very real & present danger - today!

    Interesting to note too, that you posted a link to a very biased article, about a region of Scotland with an absolutely dreadful reputation for raptor persecution & mysteriously vanishing Eagles.
    It was clear that the wool had been pulled well over the german's eyes because he failed to mention the strange absence of birds like Hen Harrier from this supposed paradise for ground nesting birds, nor were the missing Eagles mentioned.
  18. mikep

    mikep Member

    This thread is classic in its myopia about the actual problems being faced.
    A few insect or bird species being lost is not a problem, sentiment comes into it but from an ecological point of view then the vacuum will be filled quite quickly by another animal which thrives on the changed conditions.
    Extinctions are part of evolution, if the present conditions don't suit you tough out to go. The most successful animals so far were the dinosaurs, they reached peak predator/prey status and maintained it for millions of years. Were if not for a chance meteor then they would still be around, much changed but still the dominant species and mammals would be the small minor creatures they were before.
    As a human with a creative and retentive mind I can remember that when I was young there were huge numbers of swallows and sparrows about, the swallows now gone through no fault of mine and the spuggies much reduced. Hedge sparrows are now rare probably from the action of farmers over the years but.... House sparrows are nearly extinct too, why? Because of the chances in building design and living habits.
    So I'm not going to take any sh!t from some urban based journo about my role in the hedge sparrows demise without them acknowledging their role in the demise of its townie cousin.
    Everything is checks and balances but human nature is summed up best biblically "don't tell a man to take a speck out of his eye without taking the log out of yours"
    Yes there is a problem but nature does not stay still, you cannot feed, house, socialise and employ 60million souls on a small island and have a bucolic thriving countryside as we all falsely remember.
    Change will come slowly and cannot be hastened without massive problems. For example not all fungicides are equal in their collateral damage, I can remedy remember PP450 which translocated so fast it scorched leaf tips and went out of the roots quickly, not a good thing for soil fungi. Others are non moving and short lived so less harmful, those saying all fungicide should go are either young, forgetful or stupid. For many years we have forgotten what bunt or smut can do to a crop not only do they vastly reduce the yield but also ruin the rest of the grain by taint. I know that there are alternatives to fungicides for these specifics but it's there to illustrate the point that we do not know of the uncertainties and fear of plagues that our ancestors did so any reductions need to be done carefully and slowly so as not to cause disaster.
    Those who stand by the touchline and criticise seem to have no answer they may mumble about organic but when we were organic famine was always just one wet year away. As far as I'm concerned if you haven't got a constructive and workable answer then you are part of the problem.
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  19. melted welly

    melted welly Member

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  20. matt@skylark

    matt@skylark New Member

    I think it's very narrow minded to blame "farmers" for the decline. Farmers are simply providing food to feed the world population which as we all know is predicted to reach 9.7 billion by 2050. There is a requirement not only for food but for "cheap" food dictated by the supermarkets and processors, which in order for growers to remain in business requires a reliance on inputs eg: agchems, artificial fertilizers etc. The third element is the global market we are now part of where "cheap" food is flooding our shores from countries with lower environmental, sustainability and welfare standards. Finally the majority of farmers I know are true custodians of the countryside who take great pride in having a rich bio-diversity on their farms. If we are to halt the decline, the starting place is with the 65 million UK consumers as their pricing and provenance expectations dictate the way in which the British countryside will be managed in future.
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