What's the problem with deep ploughing?

Ploughing can cause the development of plough-pans, soil compaction, is detrimental to the vertical burrowing of earthworms and damages the stratified layers of soil life that develops in an undisturbed soil. There has been a steady increase in ploughing depth with modern machinery.

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Environmental issues

At this site we discuss issues surrounding manmade climate change and alternatives to non-renewable energy.

Won’t we find more oil?

It is human nature to invest massive resources to preserving the status quo of our consumptive lifestyles. However, climate change is generally accepted as happening within the scientific community. Fossil fuels were fuels formed by prehistoric plants and organisms that were buried and decomposed anaerobically millions of years ago. These fuels contain high percentage of carbon and hydrocarbons that when combusted release energy. Their extraction is expected to reach its peak (peak oil) in the next decade. In industrial countries, more than 90% of greenhouse gas emissions come from the combustion of fossil fuels.

Excess of carbon dioxide

The Permian mass extinction (250 million years ago) was the result of excessive CO2 from volcanoes blanketing the earth. The poles warmed faster than the rest of the planet. This reduced temperature differences between latitudes and caused ocean currents to stall. Without these circulations the depths were deprived of oxygen. Rotting lifeforms in the stagnant oceans belched out hydrogen sulphide, which drifted over land killing 70% of terrestrial vertebrate species. There are parallels to what is happening at present. The poles are warming faster than elsewhere. The Gulf Stream is slowing down, meaning that Britain will get more arctic winters. Due to complex feedback effects a tipping point of unstoppable climate change might be reached. We all need to embrace change.

For the UK, we support the land use scenarios in Zero Carbon Britain as the best chance to achieve carbon reduction. This has to be coupled with a worldwide treaty to:

  • have honest carbon accounting focused on consumption. The average UK consumption of CO2e is five times what the planet can afford;
  • keep remaining fossil fuels in the ground;
  • have a worldwide reduction in meat and dairy;
  • get more healthy food from arable land (e.g. vegetables and wholefoods) and reduce food waste;
  • increase the carbon sequestration of soils and biomass;
  • increase energy production from perennial plants grown only on non-arable land – e.g. coppice and energy silage.

Why must we stop our compost heaps going anaerobic?

There was an investigation into home composting in aerobic or anaerobic (aireless and wet) conditions. In aerobic conditions when oxygen is present only carbon dioxide is released. However, in anaerobic conditions the more potent methane and nitrous oxides are released.

Therefore one tonne of aerobic home-made compost releases 3.9kg CO2e whereas one tonne of anaerobic (airless and smelly) compost releases a three hundred and eighty five times increase at 1502kg CO2e. Consult the textbook Growing Green for best small-scale composting practice.