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  • Writer's pictureCrone

A bug's life

I have been listening to David Goulson's Silent Earth, which is about the decline of insects - you can read an article he wrote on this here and he has also done a webinar.

This connects, there are threads running between all these things, what I have been thinking about food production.

Premise a - insects are critical to all life (as food, pollinators, decomposters).

Premise b - insecticides, herbicides and chemical fertilisers ALL decrease the number of insects.

Premise c - to keep growing plants as food, you have to maintain the richness of the soil

Premise d - if you can't use chemical fertilisers, you have to use organic fertilisers

Premise e - rotating land so that it is fertilised by growing nitrogen capturing plants and by the manure of animals enriches the land without harming the insects - in fact, it benefits insects

Conclusion - a vegan world still needs livestock - even if we don't eat them.

Now, some point out that much land is not good for growing crops - the Lake District, say. So we grow sheep there. BUT the sheep provide very little in terms of calories and even less to the economy AND they prevent the land having any kind of biodiversity. The sheep are a waste of space.

It would be better if the Lake District were left - as a place where wildlife did not have to contend with human impacts so much - and the sheep played their part in making the land more fertile.

Say you had HUGE open areas with occasional copses and corridors or steams and hedges or hedgerows with open gates, but sectioned off from each other. Rotate these large patches over four year cycles so that they were arable for two years and then had free roaming herbivores for two years.

Do not plough - there is this new form of tilling that does not require ploughing.

I am sure that the land would be less productive in the short term - BUT the farming would be cheaper (without the use of chemicals). Nor would you need to feed the livestock as they would be eating plants.

There is an issue with population of livestock.... I am not happy with contraception as that gets into water systems and impacts other creatures. It would be better if there were predators I suppose. Oh yes, and you can't worm the animals or anything because all that stuff gets in the faeces and kills insects. So you might find that the populations would not increase so fast?

I don't think this is entirely workable... but nor is 'business as usual'.

60% of the world's agricultural land goes into beef (either pasture or food for factory farmed animals) which provides 2% of the world's calories. I'm sure that's what he said. MENTAL!!!!

A third of the food we produce is wasted.

Only a tiny proportion of the world's agricultural land goes into fruits and vegetables. If it's not meat, it's grain for unhealthy food stuffs.

Food production is a mess. No animal is so stupid, wasteful or unhealthy.

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Feb 23, 2022

I read that Guardian article by Goulson about insects. A reminder of the seriousness, written by an authority.

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