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Let’s Have More Wildlife By Using More Farmland!

The farmers have been ripping off the workers for far too long.

This is one of those delightful little illustrations of how the varied environmental demands manage to get themselves tied up in knots. There is, for example, the demand – and it’s an entirely fair desire – that we have more land available for wildlife, that the civilisation itself walk more lightly. There’s also that idea that we should reduce the chemical load added to the land – go organic and all that.

The problem is the conflict between the two demands. For, if we are to go organic then we need animals for their shit. But if we have animals then we need more land to get the shit. So, going organic means less wild land.

The other way around to put this is that chemicals are a substitute for the land necessary to do organic farming.

The UK’s beef herd could be at the heart of a sustainable farming system that tackles both the climate and wildlife crises while producing sufficient healthy food, according to a report.

However, production and consumption of other meat, milk and eggs would have to fall by half, and large forests of new trees would have to be planted, the analysis from the Food, Farming and Countryside Commission charity (FFCC) found.

The analysis assessed agroecology, a type of agriculture that includes organic farming and aims to work with nature and ensure fairness to farmers, citizens and future generations. The scenario the analysis produced would see no pesticides or synthetic fertilisers in use in 2050 and almost 10% of today’s farmland freed-up for nature.

Well, OK, yes, why not? Except, well, there is this:

Agroecological yields are lower than conventional farming,

Ah, that means we have to use more land for any given output of food then. Thus we have a problem here.

So, let us assume that we need to maximise the amount of land for wildlife. OK. That means industrial farming then – because that economises on the use of land and substitutes chemicals for that scarce land.

Or perhaps the contrary, we’ve got to reduce the chemicals and the capitalism. OK, in that case then bugger the wildlife. Because we’ve got to use more land that way.

Note that this is true of any diet. This trade off doesn’t change whether we’re all malnourished vegans – which we can’t be because we need the animal shit – or Beef Eating Englishmen. We still have that trade off between chemical capitalism and smallholding organic. It is always true that using less land means more land for wildlife whatever the diet coming out of the end of the system.

Dressing it all up in a report doesn’t change that inevitable trade off.

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Spike
Spike
3 months ago

Oh my! a new “…ology…that…aims to…ensure fairness.” This would be the same economics that Rep. A.O.C. “studied” at Boston University: a new wordsmithing rigor with which to boss other people around; now, the study of methods of farming that admittedly don’t work well, starting by waving away self-contradictions like the one noted here.

Esteban
Esteban
3 months ago

You just need to read this bit “aims to work with nature and ensure fairness to farmers, citizens and future generations” to know this is BS.

Sam Vara
Sam Vara
3 months ago

Add to that the demand that we produce more of our food because of pollution caused by transport, and the green lefty demand that we need to have open or virtually open borders, and that completes the bugger’s mess.

dodgy geezer
dodgy geezer
3 months ago

I find Mr Worstall is becoming more and more irrelevant. He is using logic to point out flaws in a policy which does not have logic at its heart, but religion. Organic farming is good, so we must have more of it. Rewilding acres of farmland is good, so we must do more of it. These statements are NOT logically incompatible in a religion. You will remember the Catholic doctrines, such as ‘Miraculous Multiplication’, which enabled apparent illogicalities in doctrine to be acceptable? That’s where we are now, and people who talk like Mr Worstall are likely to end up… Read more »

TD
TD
3 months ago
Reply to  dodgy geezer

If Mr Worstall can convince the advocates of these policies that they are illogical, then they will argue that if that is the case we must then reduce the human population to the point where medieval farming methods will provide a basic minimum of needs. I’m sure they’ll be happy to draw up a list.

jgh
jgh
3 months ago
Reply to  dodgy geezer

You can easily have more re-wilding and more organic farming. Just have less food. That’s the aim. A prosperous well-fed society is anathema to these people, 90% starving to death would please them wonderfully. Of course, they would be in the 10%.

Snarkus
Snarkus
3 months ago
Reply to  dodgy geezer

@Dodgy, you mean living in a comfortable mansion of a friend ? Have to find my copy of Death in Florence to comment on Bruno

Richard Bedford
Richard Bedford
3 months ago

The problem with the idea ‘wilding’ redundant agricultural land is that it doesn’t happen. Instead it is turned over to ‘leisure’ activities like golf courses, leisure parks, housing estates and pony paddocks.

The easiest way of wilding land is to let it go fallow and let nature take over, but that will wipe out any value the land has, and look unsightly and therefore will be opposed but every local NIMBY.

Barks
Barks
3 months ago

Sure, but remember it’s not their land going fallow, unproductive and ugly, it’s yours.

Richard Bedford
Richard Bedford
3 months ago
Reply to  Barks

Yep, that’s why wilding is a non starter. Unless you’re called McLeod and own the whole of Skye.

john77
john77
3 months ago

McLeod does *not* own the whole of Skye: MacDonald and MacKinnon own large areas.
Wilding is a result of the CAP and the banning of the hill farm subsidy which made not only farming uneconomic but also all the associated trades.

David
David
3 months ago

The question is what the greatest net amount of wildlife.
Organic farms do have more wildlife than conventional. (For example more bee species because of less insecticides). However they take up more land which means less land for wildlife.
So what has the most wildlife? It is possible that the extra wildlife on organic farms outweighs the benefits from the extra land used. It is equally possible that it doesn’t.

I don’t think anyone has ever done the research

Snarkus
Snarkus
3 months ago
Reply to  David

strongly suspect that it depends where your farm is. In Oz, organic or regenerative may have more wildlife, like small birds, insects, even the odd roo. In North America, rewilding is happening on its own as low quality land is abandoned. I dont see that happening in Europe

David
David
3 months ago
Reply to  Snarkus

I don’t think anyone knows to be honest. It would be tricky to do this research I would guess.

Michael van der Riet
Michael van der Riet
3 months ago
Reply to  David

Bees don’t actually feed on carrots and cabbages. Try again.

David
David
3 months ago

Who said they did? However insectcides on e.g almond trees can kill off wild bees needing commercial bee hives needing to be brought in.

Bongo
Bongo
3 months ago

Can we eat whales again? – there must be a hectare’s worth of meat and fats in one of the bigger ones.

Michael van der Riet
Michael van der Riet
3 months ago
Reply to  Bongo

Reporting you to Feminism UK.

Boganboy
Boganboy
3 months ago

I’ve noticed the comments on the flourishing wild life that has moved into the Chernobyl exclusion zone.

A wonderful argument for a massive nuclear program. It cuts out all those horrid greenhouse gases, and if there’s an accident, this provides a splendid opportunity to make a large area surrounding the place taboo.

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