Category Archives: Farming

Almost half of Britain’s natural biodiversity has disappeared.

Report in the Guardian newspaper:- ” Almost half of Britain’s natural biodiversity has disappeared over the centuries, with farming and urban spread triggered by the industrial and agricultural revolutions being blamed as major factors for this loss.

Britain has lost more of its natural biodiversity than almost anywhere else in western Europe, the most of all the G7 nations and more than many other nations such as China,

The world’s overall biodiversity intactness is estimated at 75%, which is significantly lower than the 90% average considered to be a safe limit for ensuring the planet does not tip into an ecological recession that could result in widespread starvation. On this scale, the UK’s index reading was 53%.”

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2021/oct/10/nearly-half-of-britains-biodiversity-has-gone-since-industrial-revolution

Why do we need insects?

  1. To pollinate 87% of plants. 75% crops need insect pollination.
  2. Recycle dung, leaves, corpses.
  3. Keep soils healthy.
  4. Control pests, though they can also be pests.
  5. Food for larger animals eg. fish. Crickets are 12 times more efficient than cows in converting vegetation into digestible body mass, produce little or no methane and use 55 times less water.
  6. Insects are in all food chains.

Problems –

German nature reserve studies – over 27 years the insect biomass has dropped by 75%. Forest and grassland had a 40% drop over 10 years.
UK butterflies – over 41 years a 46% drop in common species numbers. 77% drop in rare species numbers.
US studies – 70% drop in insectivorous birds in 20 years.

Source:- Dave Goulson “Silent Earth” 2021

Widespread continued use of bee-killing neonicotinoid pesticides

“Countries across Europe are exploiting a loophole to allow widespread continued use of bee-killing neonicotinoid pesticides, two years after the EU introduced a landmark ban on their use.

The EU agreed a ban on all outdoor uses of the neonicotinoid insecticides clothianidin, imidacloprid, and thiamethoxam on 27 April 2018, in order to protect bees.

However, an Unearthed investigation has found that in the two years since the ban was agreed, EU countries have issued at least 67 different “emergency authorisations” for outdoor use of these chemicals…”

https://unearthed.greenpeace.org/2020/07/08/bees-neonicotinoids-bayer-syngenta-eu-ban-loophole/

‘Bee-killing’ pesticide now will not be used on UK sugar beet fields

A Guardian newspaper article:-

“A pesticide which reduces bee populations and was to be used in England’s sugar beet fields this year will not be used after recent cold weather killed off virus-transmitting aphids…..”

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2021/mar/03/bee-killing-pesticide-now-will-not-be-used-on-uk-sugar-beet-fields?fbclid=IwAR0tOvOeuetwoExDrEe8efFQqw-w9FwusIG73Kt-SW6vV7sHQ6cxnQM1jZM

EU to end the export of banned agrochemicals to Third World countries

As reported by Greenpeace the EU has pledged to bring to an end the deplorable practice of sending thousands of tonnes of pesticides and herbicides which are banned in Europe to poor third world countries with weaker regulations.

The UK is a major exporter of these banned pesticides but this new proposed legislation won’t apply to us as we are no longer members of the EU.

Many of these banned agrochemicals pose a threat to bees and other pollinators, not to mention people. For example the herbicide Paraquat is manufactured for Syngenta in its factory here in Huddersfield. We are not the only culprits, however, as 10 other EU countries, including Germany and France, are guilty of exporting similar prohibited chemicals.

The date set for action is 2023.

Will the UK follow suit?

https://unearthed.greenpeace.org/2020/10/15/eu-banned-pesticide-exports-public-eye/

Promote wildlife and have a profitable arable farm

Farmers Weekly 11th Sept 20 has an article about an RSPB owned commercial arable farm.

In 2019, the farm was benchmarked against other local farm businesses and though crops varied in profitability, this was typical compared to the other farms.

!n 2019, the farm went completely insecticide free and saw no reduction in yields compared with previous years, making small savings on the products.

One quote:-
“Though we had aphids in the beans last year, there were loads of ladybirds and larvae too, and within 10 days there were only ladybirds left and the beans didn’t suffer at all,”

The farm is planting wildflower corridors through fields to increase access to beneficial insects, compost spreading and sowing cover crops as part of the Centre of Ecology and Hydrology and Rothamsted Research’s Achieving Sustainable Agricultural Systems programme.

https://www.fwi.co.uk/news/environment/how-to-make-wildlife-conservation-with-profitable-arable-farming


 

Loss of bees causes crop shortage

A Guardian newspaper report:-

“A lack of bees in agricultural areas is limiting the supply of some food crops, a new US-based study has found, suggesting that declines in the pollinators may have serious ramifications for global food security.

Species of wild bees, such as bumblebees, are suffering from a loss of flowering habitat, the use of toxic pesticides and, increasingly, the climate crisis. Managed honeybees, meanwhile, are tended to by beekeepers, but have still been assailed by disease, leading to concerns that the three-quarters of the world’s food crops dependent upon pollinators could falter due to a lack of bees.

Of seven studied crops grown in 13 states across America, five showed evidence that a lack of bees is hampering the amount of food that can be grown, including apples, blueberries and cherries. A total of 131 crop fields were surveyed for bee activity and crop abundance by a coalition of scientists from the US, Canada and Sweden.  …. ”

Read more :-

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2020/jul/29/bees-food-crops-shortage-study

https://royalsocietypublishing.org/doi/10.1098/rspb.2020.0922


 

Moths have ‘secret role’ as crucial pollinators

BBC Report:-   “Dr Walton from University College London and colleagues monitored moth activity around ponds in agricultural areas of Norfolk.

They found that 45% of the moths they tested were transporting pollen, which originated from 47 different plant species, including several that were rarely visited by bees, hoverflies and butterflies.

The scientists found that while bumblebees and honeybees are critically important, they tended to target the most prolific nectar and pollen sources. Not so with moths.

“From what we see from our work, moths tend to be generalists, meaning they’re not specifically visiting a narrow group of flowers,” said Dr Walton. … ”

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-52630991

https://royalsocietypublishing.org/doi/10.1098/rsbl.2019.0877

Mass bee die-offs – Brazil’s pesticide boom

Bees are sentinels’: “mass bee die-offs signal the wider impact of Brazil’s pesticide boom”

“The footage is unpleasant to watch: thousands of bees writhe, disoriented, on the ground in front of their hive. The dead bodies of thousands more lie beneath them.

But the smell, said beekeeper Aldo Machado, is even worse.

“Dead bees smell like dead rats,” he said. “The smell is very strong, it really is. It’s like any other meat.”

Half a billion bees are estimated to have died from December 2018 to January 2019 in southern Brazil. Machado, vice-president of Rio Grande do Sul’s beekeeping society, has been hearing reports of die-offs since 2013.

Machado sent samples of his bees for analysis, which showed that they were contaminated with an insecticide called fipronil, commonly used to control ants and termites on soy crops.”

See the full report…
https://unearthed.greenpeace.org/2020/02/27/bee-die-offs-soya-brazil-pesticide-boom-biodiverisity-agriculture/