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Wilding

Discussion in 'Holistic Farming' started by martian, Oct 20, 2018.

  1. martian

    martian DD Moderator

    Location:
    N Herts
    The Burrells, it turns out. But they were taking advice from agents, so perhaps not surprising. There are a lot of estates round the country in a similar pickle, but this is all a bit off topic.
    Joel Salatin gave a good keynote talk at the Acres USA Conference last week. The subject was 'Can we feed the world with organic farming?'. He gave a history lesson about farming in America, starting with what it was like pre-European invasion...200 million (vegetarian) beavers and an even greater number of bison fed themselves without resort to artificial fertilisers or sprays, in turn several million wolves and other carnivores ate even more meat every day than the average modern American manages to wedge in. There were also a few Native Americans eating a holistic diet.

    Like a lot of what he says, it was a wind-up, but there's a Knepp-like message in there...Nature will provide, if you let her get on with it
     
  2. mikep

    mikep Member

    We farm similar Weald clay on a much smaller scale. It's a bitch, proper 4 day land, i.e you've got four days between too wet and too dry and vice versa.
    I have a couple of really sh!t wet shaded fields I bunged into arable reversion with the old CSS. And basically walked away. This was done with the half blessing of whoever it was before NE, the chap we had loved the project and covered my back after a spot inspection.
    We had local artists asking to paint, the place was alive with wildlife and the Surrey plant survey team made a visit to have a look.
    From a manicured countryside point of view it was scrub and a mess but the.magic of looking down at your feet and seeing a fallow fawn (calf?) motionless just where your next footstep was about to go made up for that.
    It did'nt last as the landlord had a new agent who was a lying little sh!t (who I hope is reading this) decided that instead of discussing it issued a notice to quit.
    The TFA soon sorted that but I just thought boll-ocks and grubbed it all out much to my regret.
    So anyway you can see that some people are supportive of such things and some landlords/agents are not.
    Oh did I say that my landlords are the National Trust?
     
  3. Av Gorritt

    Av Gorritt Member

    Location:
    NE Ches / SE Lancs
    There's a deep cutting near here where a now disused and taken up railway line used to be . When the line was scrapped (Beeching) there was talk of the local council buying it and turning it into a nature reserve . It came to nothing because money was needed for other things . In the event it didn't matter as in the relatively short time it's been unused , it's reverted back to a proper natural state , with all kinds of shrubs , growing trees and other vegetation . All of which harbours a whole lot of wildlife (tbh, some of it not so desirable !) But my point is that nature will very quickly claim back it's own , left to it's own devices .
     
    Will Blackburn, JCMaloney and Treg like this.
  4. Richard III

    Richard III Member

    Location:
    CW5 Cheshire
    @martian on the basis of your above post, I put the book on my Christmas present list, I'm really pleased I did. Your post sums the book up so well, it's hard to add to it. I definitely have a learnt much about how the natural environment works by reading it. So many of our conservation efforts now seem somewhat lacking!
     
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  5. Tell me more
     
  6. martian

    martian DD Moderator

    Location:
    N Herts
    The Burrells will be talking about it at Groundswell this year, but that does mean a trip to England, Will
     
  7. Richard III

    Richard III Member

    Location:
    CW5 Cheshire
    Best thing I can tell you is to buy the book Will, I'd very surprised if you considered it a waste of time and money.

    Many internationally renowned experts in their individual fields are involved with what is going on at Knepp, Isabella Tree has absorbed a huge amount of information from them, made plenty of her own observations and then laid it out in a very readable book.

    What has been done at Knepp is inspired by what happened in the Oostvaardersplassen Project in the Netherlands, when land was (by accident, not design) allowed to revert to scrub and wetland. This area attracted Greylag Geese, their grazing disrupted the expected vegetative succession and increased diversity, so they chucked grazing animals in and got more diversity. Seeing this they added a variety of different types of grazing animals in and the whole place started to really take off in unexpected ways.

    I believed that before we started ripping the place up Britain was largely Oak forest, not so at all according to Isabella, it was a mixture of scrub, trees, grazing and wild boar - resetting succession where they root, and I think she is probably right.

    She questions the way we observe how wildlife behaves and then implement conservation measures, many species aren't behaving naturally in our environment, they have adapted to survive in it and some are on the edge of being able to do so. The Turtle Dove is a great example, at Knepp they are doing none of the conservation measures that are desperately being done elsewhere in the UK to prevent the bird going extinct on our shores, yet they are the only place in the whole country where breeding numbers are increasing.

    The book impresses upon you the extreme complexity and diversity of a natural environment and the more complexity there is, then the more resilient it is to what ever change or extremes are thrown at it.

    It's an incredible story of how the place has evolved and a major challenge for many people, farmers in particular to embrace what appears to be letting a place go to wrack and ruin. I can get my head around it, but I think I will have to go there and see what my eyes make off it!

    After reading the book I have shifted how I think farming and conservation should go forward in the future. I still believe more nature friendly farming systems such as ours need encouraging and developing. However stewardship schemes desperately need re evaluating and other areas like Knepp need to be created in suitable areas - and linked where possible.

    It's also made me look and evaluate what is happening on this farm. Quite a few species have taken advantage of Conservation Ag here and over time more will probably learn to adapt and move in. However everything is so transient and fast moving in our modern world, whatever I've created here will be gone and changed to something else in the blink of an evolutionary eye. It's a very challenging environment for nature to thrive in.
     
  8. Richard III

    Richard III Member

    Location:
    CW5 Cheshire
    That's great news @martian, surely that gives you time to find your passport and dust it off Will? ;)
     
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  9. Bill the Bass

    Bill the Bass Member

    Location:
    Cumbria
    I thought the Oostvaardersplassen project in the Netherlands had been shut down upon advise by a Dutch government committee due to major animal welfare issues/concerns particularly with the wild ponies....?
     
    egbert likes this.
  10. Richard III

    Richard III Member

    Location:
    CW5 Cheshire
    I think it is still going, but there have been major issues with allowing animals to starve to control their numbers. The Oostvaardersplassen Project set out to be VERY low interventionist and stand back and watch. At Knepp they have been a little more pragmatic, they know the English public will not tolerate starving animals, so they cull excess numbers and sell the meat for good money.

    What has happened with Exmoor ponies at Knepp is interesting, they were culling excess stock, but the carcass had next to no value. So they have now gelded the males and the herd structure has completely fallen apart and they graze differently.

    Apparently Exmoor ponies are the nearest thing we have to a wild horse and their numbers are dangerously low. There is some woman somewhere doing good work conserving them and marketing their meat as part of the process. However, unfortunately she is having major issues and death threats from Vegans.

    I'm no expert on this matter, all I've done is read this book over Christmas, sometimes with a glass of red in my hand! :)
     
  11. egbert

    egbert Member

    The 2 projects don't really compare as far as I'm aware,
    and yes, there has been a huge furore in Holland about the photos of loads of dead/emaciated equines -and others- being craned into tippers.
    Police preventing locals from chucking hay over the fence if I recall.

    On the whole, the Dutch project has done us good, as it's will be useful to hold up the example of what leaving nature to take its course really means.
    (mind the rewilders will argue till they turn blue that it wasn't done properly, or somesuch)

    Good luck to the Knepp folk. they've the wherewithal to experiment on a grand scale, and have managed to flog books and tourism off the back of it so they can say it's profitable.
    But to let anyone claim this is the way forward for the rest of us is hokum. Properly grand scale illusionist HOKUM.
     
    Bill the Bass likes this.
  12. Clive

    Clive Staff Member

    Location:
    Lichfield
    He spoke at OFC. - the massive flaw with what he has achieved is its massive dependence on state aid to do it

    I’m not sure the tax payer would dream of footing the bill for everyone to do this

    Under questioning he also admitted it was only remotely viable at very large scale

    What happens to him if the subs get cut off ? I would suggest he has a big problem as his farm is no longer able to be returned to viable food production without massive cost
     
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  13. Richard III

    Richard III Member

    Location:
    CW5 Cheshire
    From a business point of view your spot on and the Burrells are very aware of it.
     
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  14. Bill the Bass

    Bill the Bass Member

    Location:
    Cumbria
    I also heard the wild cattle in the Dutch site had turned incredibly aggressive, so much so that public access had been stopped.....Every cloud and all that I guess!
     
    egbert likes this.
  15. Danllan

    Danllan Member

    Location:
    Sir Gar / Carms
    Well, I received the book as a present. It is well written and very interesting and, overall, extremely depressing in the short-term - meaning for the foreseeable future while humans continue as we are.

    I was minded to favour nature-friendliness before, this book has merely confirmed my opinions. I would be interested to hear from anyone who has read it and still thinks that 'modern' intensive farming, plant or animal, is a good thing.

    On balance, I think that the most important part of the book is the mention of glomalin and its carbon retentive properties. Sort out the soil and global warming is no more than an option...
     
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  16. Bill the Bass

    Bill the Bass Member

    Location:
    Cumbria
    What’s intensive? 80,000 steers in a mud pen or a bit of N put on some pasture for 50 sucklers? It’s all relative, any use of land other than abandonment can now be classed by some ‘campaigner’ or other as intensive farming.

    Intensive farming used to be simple; indoor pigs or poultry, now its bandied about so much who the hell knows what it means.
     
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  17. any modern industrial agri chem / fert / fossil fuel reliant system . . .
     
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  18. Danllan

    Danllan Member

    Location:
    Sir Gar / Carms
    I'll admit to a poor choice of word, say 'unreconstructed' or 'thoughtless', or even 'abusive' instead if you like. But using the original word, or any other, I would define these detrimental methods as something that does more harm to the land / environment than good, although I'd settle for a neutral effect for now...
     
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  19. Bill the Bass

    Bill the Bass Member

    Location:
    Cumbria
    I don’t think it was a poor choice of word, I just genuinely think it’s an overused term, cleverly used by people who know the images it conjures up are emotive.
     
    Richard III likes this.
  20. Danllan

    Danllan Member

    Location:
    Sir Gar / Carms
    It should be emotive, it is an extremely precious and important thing we are discussing.
     
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