Discussion:
UK is 30-40 years away from 'eradication of soil fertility', warns Gove
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p-0''0-h the cat (coder)
2018-08-10 10:11:57 UTC
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https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/oct/24/uk-30-40-years-away-eradication-soil-fertility-warns-michael-gove

Not a problem says Norman.

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Norman Wells
2018-08-10 11:04:57 UTC
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Post by p-0''0-h the cat (coder)
https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/oct/24/uk-30-40-years-away-eradication-soil-fertility-warns-michael-gove
Not a problem says Norman.
Well, it's a bit difficult to determine what the problem actually is,
which is pretty typical of the unscientific Guardian and the
unscientific Gove.

In the headline it's apparently loss of 'soil fertility' whereas just a
few lines later it's 'soil *and* fertility'. So, is the allegation that
we're losing soil itself, or just its fertility?

If it's the soil itself, the article doesn't say where it's going or
what's causing it, at least in the UK which Gove was supposedly
prattling about.

This is what the article says:

“If you have heavy machines churning the soil and impacting it, if you
drench it in chemicals that improve yields but in the long term undercut
the future fertility of that soil, you can increase yields year on year
but ultimately you really are cutting the ground away from beneath your
own feet. Farmers know that.”

That's of course nothing to do with losing soil. It remains where it is.

Why is 'churning it' supposed to be bad? It's ploughing by any other
name, or 'digging'. It's a well-known technique for reducing
compaction, aerating the soil and generally improving its condition. I
believe even organic farmers do it.

And why does he use the pejorative term 'drench it in chemicals', when
what is being done is simply spraying the crop using far less water than
in an ordinary shower? Fertiliser sprays are just putting back what the
crops have taken out. They are *maintaining* soil fertility not
reducing it. Why on earth he thinks the future fertility of the soil
will be undercut long term is sadly not explained, especially when he
says you can increase yields year on year. As I see it, that's a pretty
good measure of soil fertility.

"Arguing that farmers needed to be incentivised to tackle both the loss
of soil fertility and the decline in biodiversity,"

Oh, 'biodiversity' now rears its head. Where did that suddenly apear
from, and what's it got to do with 'soil fertility'? Again, an
unanswered question.

"Gove said that he hoped the SSA, a new body formed with the mission of
bringing UK soils back to health within one generation, would hold the
government to account and bring him ideas and inspiration. “We are
listening to you now and it’s critical that we do so.”

Yes. He has no ideas or inspiration himself. Perhaps he should talk to
proper farmers instead of crank pressure groups on the fringe. They're
the ones whose livelihoods depend on the soil and its fertility and
whose interests it serves to keep it good. Which they do.

Neither Gove nor the Guardian has identified any problem as far as I can
see.

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