Wilding

any modern industrial agri chem / fert / fossil fuel reliant system . . .
This also includes organic farming s they are more reliant on fossil fuels than most.
This cannot be thought about in isolation though, there are so many mouths to feed today that we cannot forget food production. Sure it should perhaps be more sympathetic but with finite land the truth is there will be losers and some species will go, not my choice but inevitable non the less.
I don't apologise for my species existence and if it means that a lesser spotted bog tit goes extinct I can't be too upset because another species will evolve to take its place always has always will.
The trick would be to reavaluate our relationship with the planet not individual species and get a global accommodation that would allow us and as many as was realistic to survive. We have short-circuited evolution by a few hundred million years and continue to accelerate the pace, there is a new reality and we must face up to it and not harp back to some eden that was only a nano second in the history of the planet.
 
I'm gonna throw water on this, a family with 3500 acres can't make money so leave it to go to scrub for 10 years, claim government money and claim it is a success.

For who, exactly? If you want to be a national park ranger or work for the NT you can apply online and do your bit for the community, costing me, the tax payer, £0 in the process.

Turning 3,500 acres into scrub is not my definition of successful. Provision for landscape/conversation efforts should be an incidental by-product of farming practice as it was for decades. This is not farming, it is playing at being a national park. I have utterly no doubt it was a boon for wildlife, local ecology, water, soil and air protection but I would point out there are dozens of organisations managing land that already fits this description and they do so with minimal (if any) public money nor have they taken thousands of acres of land out of production.

Sorry to be the devils advocate but that is just the way I see it. If it relies on subsidy money, it isn't sustainable or practical.
 

Clive

Staff Member
Arable Farmer
Location
Lichfield
I recall in his OFC presentation that their average yield for first wheat on heavy soils was circa 6t/ha ................ you have to question were they actually any good at farming ?


When any system is not successful the last thing we ever blame is ourselves !


Juts saying !
 

martian

DD Moderator
BASE UK Member
Location
N Herts
I'm gonna throw water on this, a family with 3500 acres can't make money so leave it to go to scrub for 10 years, claim government money and claim it is a success.

For who, exactly? If you want to be a national park ranger or work for the NT you can apply online and do your bit for the community, costing me, the tax payer, £0 in the process.

Turning 3,500 acres into scrub is not my definition of successful. Provision for landscape/conversation efforts should be an incidental by-product of farming practice as it was for decades. This is not farming, it is playing at being a national park. I have utterly no doubt it was a boon for wildlife, local ecology, water, soil and air protection but I would point out there are dozens of organisations managing land that already fits this description and they do so with minimal (if any) public money nor have they taken thousands of acres of land out of production.

Sorry to be the devils advocate but that is just the way I see it. If it relies on subsidy money, it isn't sustainable or practical.
Well, that's how I felt till I read the book.
One of the interesting results of what they've done is to expose how wrong-headed a lot of mainstream 'conservation' schemes are. They are doing far more than letting the land revert to scrub, they are carefully using grazing animals to make their land much more productive (albeit they are not actively harvesting most of the production) and I think that they have achieved something quite special. We can learn more from this experiment about how to feed the world whilst at the same time looking after the great bog tit and all his mates, than we can from any number of 'scientific' breakthroughs dreamed up in laboratories. Choose not to believe me if you like, but that is just how it is...
 

Richard III

Member
Arable Farmer
Location
CW5 Cheshire
@Clive & @ollie989898 I would say you are both looking at this the wrong way round. Who cares if they were any good at farming or not? Yes, they have managed to monetize it well, but that's not what is interesting about the book or the project either.

The project has helped increase knowledge on just how complex nature is and how important it can be to restore this complexity in conservation efforts. The book is jam packed full of information on this. As a conservation ag. farmer Clive, you already have a head start on this, as you understand more than most about diversity & succession.

If you are just a practical money man, or have no interest in the natural world (it's past, present or future) it's simple, don't bother reading the book, or visiting Knepp, it's not for you.

Do we have a duty to hand down nature to the next generation, or just continue to slowly strangle it more and more as we currently seem to be doing? The government appears to be about to pour loads of money into conservation, but the experience at Knepp would suggest that at the very least, some of their schemes are misguided, is this not important? As always it's about balance, Knepp is a very valuable experiment to inform us about the most effective ways we can achieve this balance.
 

Richard III

Member
Arable Farmer
Location
CW5 Cheshire
We can learn more from this experiment about how to feed the world whilst at the same time looking after the great bog tit and all his mates, than we can from any number of 'scientific' breakthroughs dreamed up in laboratories. Choose not to believe me if you like, but that is just how it is...

Absolutely spot on IMO and I think you can only criticize this opinion properly if you have read the book!
 

Danllan

Member
Location
Sir Gar / Carms
I'm gonna throw water on this, a family with 3500 acres can't make money so leave it to go to scrub for 10 years, claim government money and claim it is a success.

For who, exactly? If you want to be a national park ranger or work for the NT you can apply online and do your bit for the community, costing me, the tax payer, £0 in the process.

Turning 3,500 acres into scrub is not my definition of successful. Provision for landscape/conversation efforts should be an incidental by-product of farming practice as it was for decades. This is not farming, it is playing at being a national park. I have utterly no doubt it was a boon for wildlife, local ecology, water, soil and air protection but I would point out there are dozens of organisations managing land that already fits this description and they do so with minimal (if any) public money nor have they taken thousands of acres of land out of production.

Sorry to be the devils advocate but that is just the way I see it. If it relies on subsidy money, it isn't sustainable or practical.

I agree with regard to subsidy for farming, 100%, but... I'm happy to see some public money - including my contribution - going to something like this. The reality of our natural landscape and ecosystem(s) has been forgotten, deliberately or otherwise, and it is only through a project such as this that its original way of being can be demonstrably proven.

You mention scrub; well, 'scrub' is a very rich environment in itself as well as being an intermediate stage in a landscape's evolution. I am happily seeing a few acres here revert to nature and the massive increase in the birdlife alone - my particular, but not sole interest - is a revelation; you will be delighted to learn that we don't claim any agricultural subsidy. :)
 
I agree with regard to subsidy for farming, 100%, but... I'm happy to see some public money - including my contribution - going to something like this. The reality of our natural landscape and ecosystem(s) has been forgotten, deliberately or otherwise, and it is only through a project such as this that its original way of being can be demonstrably proven.

You mention scrub; well, 'scrub' is a very rich environment in itself as well as being an intermediate stage in a landscape's evolution. I am happily seeing a few acres here revert to nature and the massive increase in the birdlife alone - my particular, but not sole interest - is a revelation; you will be delighted to learn that we don't claim any agricultural subsidy. :)

The problem for me is that taken as an experiment alone things like this are fine and fascinating to watch. I am happy for a bit of my cash to be spent on it but.......Today nothing is grey it is black or white and some tit (two legged not bog or lesser spotted), Chris Packham comes to mind, will use this as a stick to beat farmers that have the temerity to farm.
There has to be a balance and I think the Yanks have got an idea in their farmland/wilderness practice.
Use farmland for food and leave the wilderness to the animals. Problem is the UK is a tiddly bit small for this so you have to try and mix the two, it's not easy. Leave Knapp to be just what it is an eco-friendly farm diversification and if it interests you go visit but don't let the twits out there use it as a stick to beat us more. PS I used to sell poultry to the people selling the meat, barstewards still owe me £450.
 
Well, that's how I felt till I read the book.
One of the interesting results of what they've done is to expose how wrong-headed a lot of mainstream 'conservation' schemes are. They are doing far more than letting the land revert to scrub, they are carefully using grazing animals to make their land much more productive (albeit they are not actively harvesting most of the production) and I think that they have achieved something quite special. We can learn more from this experiment about how to feed the world whilst at the same time looking after the great bog tit and all his mates, than we can from any number of 'scientific' breakthroughs dreamed up in laboratories. Choose not to believe me if you like, but that is just how it is...

I could have told you most conservation schemes or efforts were misguided and potentially unsustainable , I didn't need to scrub 3500 acres to do that. I bet most of this forum could explain why in great detail, too as well as why they might have struggled to turn a shilling from 3500 acres of heavy clay.

I have grave reservations if environmentalism now constitutes letting significant areas of land return to an unmanaged state whilst keeping a few cattle on it. Is the cattle enterprise even viable, or is this in fact a show-piece for something else as well?

An indication of how we can feed the world? I am far from convinced.
 
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I agree with regard to subsidy for farming, 100%, but... I'm happy to see some public money - including my contribution - going to something like this. The reality of our natural landscape and ecosystem(s) has been forgotten, deliberately or otherwise, and it is only through a project such as this that its original way of being can be demonstrably proven.

You mention scrub; well, 'scrub' is a very rich environment in itself as well as being an intermediate stage in a landscape's evolution. I am happily seeing a few acres here revert to nature and the massive increase in the birdlife alone - my particular, but not sole interest - is a revelation; you will be delighted to learn that we don't claim any agricultural subsidy. :)

I am well aware of the ecological value of scrub and recognise that it is a necessary step in the evolution of a patch of land as it returns to a fully reverted habitat. I'm not complaining about that. I am criticising it because it it does not take someone with a PhD in ecological science to know that suddenly leaving a huge area of countryside completely alone will result that land becoming species rich by hook or by crook- anyone can do it, it is not a mystery process and I suspect most people can pin-point a patch of said land in their own locality. If I magically let my 3500 acre garden go feral I would not be expecting money for it, a book deal or a Nobel prize.

Why in the world is public money being used in this way, there is no justification for it and I dispute the overall value of it since it clearly cannot be carried out on such a large scale everywhere. As I said: if the country is serious about reducing the impact of farming on the environment and maintaining the countryside we have today, efforts must recognise that historically, the landscape is as it is as a by product of farming practice. Asking arable farmers to abandon huge areas of land just is not a workable solution.
 

Poorbuthappy

Member
Livestock Farmer
Location
Devon
I'm gonna throw water on this, a family with 3500 acres can't make money so leave it to go to scrub for 10 years, claim government money and claim it is a success.

For who, exactly? If you want to be a national park ranger or work for the NT you can apply online and do your bit for the community, costing me, the tax payer, £0 in the process.

Turning 3,500 acres into scrub is not my definition of successful. Provision for landscape/conversation efforts should be an incidental by-product of farming practice as it was for decades. This is not farming, it is playing at being a national park. I have utterly no doubt it was a boon for wildlife, local ecology, water, soil and air protection but I would point out there are dozens of organisations managing land that already fits this description and they do so with minimal (if any) public money nor have they taken thousands of acres of land out of production.

Sorry to be the devils advocate but that is just the way I see it. If it relies on subsidy money, it isn't sustainable or practical.
Which organisations are doing this sort of thing without public money? I thought the likes of National trust and rspb were some of the biggest receivers of subs?
 

Danllan

Member
Location
Sir Gar / Carms
...There has to be a balance...

Agreed, but, by any measure, we've not achieved anything even approaching one here, yet...


I am well aware of the ecological value of scrub and recognise that it is a necessary step in the evolution of a patch of land as it returns to a fully reverted habitat. I'm not complaining about that. I am criticising it because it it does not take someone with a PhD in ecological science to know that suddenly leaving a huge area of countryside completely alone will result that land becoming species rich...

Why in the world is public money being used in this way, there is no justification for it and I dispute the overall value of it since it clearly cannot be carried out on such a large scale everywhere...

I could have told you most conservation schemes or efforts were misguided and potentially unsustainable , I didn't need to scrub 3500 acres to do that. I bet most of this forum could explain why in great detail, too as well as why they might have struggled to turn a shilling from 3500 acres of heavy clay.

I have grave reservations if environmentalism now constitutes letting significant areas of land return to an unmanaged state whilst keeping a few cattle on it. Is the cattle enterprise even viable, or is this in fact a show-piece for something else as well?

An indication of how we can feed the world? I am far from convinced.

I am not over fond of Oscar Wilde but he did, on occasion, have a fine turn of phrase and when he wrote that a cynic knew the 'price of everything and the value of nothing' he was certainly right. Your post appears to make some assumptions, a couple are easily rebutted and the others clearly based on a 'value judgement' which is, of course for each of us to make for ourselves.

Firstly, feeding the world is not a problem. We can do it already. In fact at the current rate of production we could feed a world population at least 30% bigger than today's. The corollary is obvious: that we can afford to reduce the amount of land being farmed, so 'wilding' could well be done pretty much anywhere. Get rid of unnecessary food waste and then come back to us on these ones. (y)

It is to your credit that you recognise the species rich ecological value of scrubland, and that you admit it, although you make an error in your placing it solely as a 'stage' between one ecosystem and another; there is good evidence that peripheral scrub is a stable ecosystem in its own right.

Here then is, I guess, the nub of the matter for one side of the argument: is there an objective value to having areas that are not under the thumb of man? I can argue that there is, and can do so in entirely rational terms starting with climate-change control and pollinators, and then extending the list very greatly.

But I will be honest enough to admit that there is an entirely subjective reason for my wanting nature to be harmed less. I think it of immeasurable value in itself, intrinsically, without reference to humanity and, quite apart from the enormous pleasure I receive from it, I would not want to be the one explain to my children why I knew what had been and was being done, yet did nothing.

And that is the nub for me. Hitherto we, as a species, had a very improper understanding of the way of things, and I believe that compared to what we will know in a few more centuries we still currently know very little. But it is enough. It is enough to reveal to us the enormous damage already done and, even now, actively being done to nature.

It is on that basis that I believe we should do as little harm and as much good as possible. So, by all means remove the agricultural subsidy from such projects, it is entirely disingenuous to provide it. But, having done that, I am very happy to see as much and more given to such schemes as environmental rewards, or merely as agricultural 'conscience money', if you will.
 
Agreed, but, by any measure, we've not achieved anything even approaching one here, yet...






I am not over fond of Oscar Wilde but he did, on occasion, have a fine turn of phrase and when he wrote that a cynic knew the 'price of everything and the value of nothing' he was certainly right. Your post appears to make some assumptions, a couple are easily rebutted and the others clearly based on a 'value judgement' which is, of course for each of us to make for ourselves.

Firstly, feeding the world is not a problem. We can do it already. In fact at the current rate of production we could feed a world population at least 30% bigger than today's. The corollary is obvious: that we can afford to reduce the amount of land being farmed, so 'wilding' could well be done pretty much anywhere. Get rid of unnecessary food waste and then come back to us on these ones. (y)

It is to your credit that you recognise the species rich ecological value of scrubland, and that you admit it, although you make an error in your placing it solely as a 'stage' between one ecosystem and another; there is good evidence that peripheral scrub is a stable ecosystem in its own right.

Here then is, I guess, the nub of the matter for one side of the argument: is there an objective value to having areas that are not under the thumb of man? I can argue that there is, and can do so in entirely rational terms starting with climate-change control and pollinators, and then extending the list very greatly.

But I will be honest enough to admit that there is an entirely subjective reason for my wanting nature to be harmed less. I think it of immeasurable value in itself, intrinsically, without reference to humanity and, quite apart from the enormous pleasure I receive from it, I would not want to be the one explain to my children why I knew what had been and was being done, yet did nothing.

And that is the nub for me. Hitherto we, as a species, had a very improper understanding of the way of things, and I believe that compared to what we will know in a few more centuries we still currently know very little. But it is enough. It is enough to reveal to us the enormous damage already done and, even now, actively being done to nature.

It is on that basis that I believe we should do as little harm and as much good as possible. So, by all means remove the agricultural subsidy from such projects, it is entirely disingenuous to provide it. But, having done that, I am very happy to see as much and more given to such schemes as environmental rewards, or merely as agricultural 'conscience money', if you will.

The problem for me are phrases such as "scrub is a stable ecosystem in its own right". Although correct this should always be followed by the rider "without humans". This is the nub and the deceit of the ultra ecofreeks they are mutually exclusive and can only exist in isolation from each other. You cannot ignore humans and you cannot expect all other nature to be able to compete as we are the alpha +++++ on such a scale that we not only affect the local areas but globally and also affect the planet.
The value of wilding will be as a reserve where the lesser spotted bog tit can survive as it's habitat has been degraded elsewhere.
On the farmed areas care should be taken to cause less damage but those who say you can have it all are deluded or liars some species will lose out and that cannot be stopped. Even with the best will you will find critical mass will be lost so it's best to honestly look at what we want to keep and perhaps have reserves for the others which is where wilding may have a place.
I don't want this but looking at it honestly I think that to say anything else is to promise what can't be achieved.
Also as a bit of mischief where are all the house sparrows? used to be millions when I was a kid. Can we ask all householders to open up their eaves and soffits again to help them or can we 'rewild' parts of inner cities?
 

Richard III

Member
Arable Farmer
Location
CW5 Cheshire
Also as a bit of mischief where are all the house sparrows? used to be millions when I was a kid. Can we ask all householders to open up their eaves and soffits again to help them or can we 'rewild' parts of inner cities?

Apologies for going off thread @martian , but most farms and associated buildings around here have been converted to residential now. No one living in these properties wants bird poop on their patio, so any swallow nests are knocked down in short order. (n)
 

Danllan

Member
Location
Sir Gar / Carms
The problem for me are phrases such as "scrub is a stable ecosystem in its own right". Although correct this should always be followed by the rider "without humans". This is the nub and the deceit of the ultra ecofreeks they are mutually exclusive and can only exist in isolation from each other. You cannot ignore humans and you cannot expect all other nature to be able to compete as we are the alpha +++++ on such a scale that we not only affect the local areas but globally and also affect the planet.
The value of wilding will be as a reserve where the lesser spotted bog tit can survive as it's habitat has been degraded elsewhere.
On the farmed areas care should be taken to cause less damage but those who say you can have it all are deluded or liars some species will lose out and that cannot be stopped. Even with the best will you will find critical mass will be lost so it's best to honestly look at what we want to keep and perhaps have reserves for the others which is where wilding may have a place.
I don't want this but looking at it honestly I think that to say anything else is to promise what can't be achieved...

I note your use of the word 'degraded' and recognition of the fact that we have had are continuing to have a detrimental effect upon the natural world globally. It is inarguable that damage has been done; we know it, it can be proved beyond doubt, so then there is just one simple question: should we try to make amends? If you answer 'no', well, that is the end of the conversation. If you answer 'yes', then there is a second question: how?

There is no way any one can seriously argue for a complete surrender of the whole country to nature, we - humans - are here and that's a fact. But, having already established that we are over-supplying food, it is definite that some land can be left to itself, and this is almost certainly the case on every single farm, mine, yours, our neighbours' and everyone else's too.

And that is the key, that gives the 'critical mass' that you correctly identified as being so important. Whether it is an awkward corner in this field or that, or just allowing hedges to expand halfway across a headland, it all adds up and, self evidently, there is a great benefit to having well dispersed smaller areas between the larger ones.

I advocate removing a mile of old road for every new mile made - if this is done with care it can expand wild areas without interfering with peoples' lives. And leaving roadsides alone as far as possible, meaning that only where safety requires it should they be cut back. There are many other obvious things to do as well, and they do all add up.
 
I note your use of the word 'degraded' and recognition of the fact that we have had are continuing to have a detrimental effect upon the natural world globally. It is inarguable that damage has been done; we know it, it can be proved beyond doubt, so then there is just one simple question: should we try to make amends? If you answer 'no', well, that is the end of the conversation. If you answer 'yes', then there is a second question: how?

There is no way any one can seriously argue for a complete surrender of the whole country to nature, we - humans - are here and that's a fact. But, having already established that we are over-supplying food, it is definite that some land can be left to itself, and this is almost certainly the case on every single farm, mine, yours, our neighbours' and everyone else's too.

And that is the key, that gives the 'critical mass' that you correctly identified as being so important. Whether it is an awkward corner in this field or that, or just allowing hedges to expand halfway across a headland, it all adds up and, self evidently, there is a great benefit to having well dispersed smaller areas between the larger ones.

I advocate removing a mile of old road for every new mile made - if this is done with care it can expand wild areas without interfering with peoples' lives. And leaving roadsides alone as far as possible, meaning that only where safety requires it should they be cut back. There are many other obvious things to do as well, and they do all add up.

I'm saying that we must do as much as we can i.e. to tread carefully but there is no way we won't leave a big footprint.
There is an industry growing up selling a dream to the public that if it wasn't for farmers we would have some sylvanian paradise with unicorns skipping and rabbits frolicking but we know that's a load of bollox.
We can have most of the land a whole lot better than it is now and have some 'reservations' for special features/species and know that's as good as it will get.
No one should promise what can't be delivered and the past cannot be created without ALL factors being the same e.g population size, amount of cars/consumer goods etc.
The public are actually collectively quite stupid and will tend to believe that their lifestyle is blameless it's all the fault of the farmers. It's up to us as an industry together with sensible environmental groups to find a balance and be honest enough to say that's all folks
 

martian

DD Moderator
BASE UK Member
Location
N Herts
Apologies for going off thread @martian , but most farms and associated buildings around here have been converted to residential now. No one living in these properties wants bird poop on their patio, so any swallow nests are knocked down in short order. (n)
No worries...it's all on topic asfaic
I've just come across this from their website:
https://knepp.co.uk/rewildingkneppvideo
quite interesting to see what it looks like. I love that they are booked up solid for their safari business. There is, quite rightly, a huge hunger in the public at large for a 'wildlife experience', it makes much more sense to go to Sussex rather than Kenya to get a fix. Also, we in the First World are rather apt to tell Third World countries that they jolly well shouldn't cut down their rainforests, yet we have precious little wilderness ourselves
 
No worries...it's all on topic asfaic
I've just come across this from their website:
https://knepp.co.uk/rewildingkneppvideo
quite interesting to see what it looks like. I love that they are booked up solid for their safari business. There is, quite rightly, a huge hunger in the public at large for a 'wildlife experience', it makes much more sense to go to Sussex rather than Kenya to get a fix. Also, we in the First World are rather apt to tell Third World countries that they jolly well shouldn't cut down their rainforests, yet we have precious little wilderness ourselves

You can walk an awful lot of it FOC. Hats off to them its a good business and interesting project, barstewards still owe me £450 though.
 

Richard III

Member
Arable Farmer
Location
CW5 Cheshire
Mrs Richard III read the book after me, she was very taken with it and is interested in visiting Knepp. Something tells me I won't get away with walking her around the public footpaths, so it now looks like we'll be going going on a Sussex Safari at some point!
 

CHAP Webinar - Innovative tools to overcome the challenges of Regen Ag

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