Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Bees and the warm autumn

Last week the hive in our garden, a self positioned swarm had pollen loads coming in, presumably from remnant Ivy flowers. Although if this weather keeps going for much longer we will have spring plants in flower and Rhubarb growing. We already have grass growing at a rate close to that of this summer (slow).
All is fine for the animals and vegetables, the leeks are growing well and the tunnel crops are developing quickly.
The bees though are a worry, warm weather means bees will be active and consuming honey stores possibly rearing young so eating into pollen supplies.
So what to do? Feed and potentially stimulate more activity or leave them and risk starvation? The answer I think is to check all and feed were needed, there may be some increase in activity but the coming cold weather will soon put a stop to that. we are going to get some cold weather aren't we?

Saturday, 5 November 2011

Organic production and morality

The economist Shaun Rikard has stated that Organic production is morally indefensible, on the grounds that we are impeding progress, by holding back the introduction of GM crops. Which presumably he sees as the savior of conventional agriculture and therefore the human race. (Farmers Guardian 20 Oct 2011)
I am astounded that Mr Rikard has pulled out the moral argument, talk about venturing on shaky ground.
The basis of his argument typically ignores the inconvenient fact of peak oil. We as food producers cannot ignore the implications of diminishing oil stocks and the resultant impact on food availability and cost.
The economic advantage of conventional agriculture over organic production depends on the availability of cheap oil based inputs. These financial benefits will disappear as the oil price rises.
80% of an average arable farmers costs are oil based compared to around 20% for organic production it is not difficult to see with a doubling or more in the cost of oil that organic production systems start to approach parity
It is surely the height of folly to put all our efforts into a system of production which relies so heavily on one finite and diminishing resource.

Commercially released GM crops to date have increased the dependency on petro chemicals, they are not a break from oil based agriculture but a continuation along the same track producing evermore intensive growing systems. Resulting in the consumption of increasing quantities of oil based inputs.

Organic production while not free from the use of oil (tractors, poly tunnels etc) reduces massively the reliance on oil, improving rather than diminishing our food security. The moral imperative must be to invest in forms of food production which provide at the opportunity grow food in an oil poor future.

The moral imperative must be to investigate and develop food production techniques which enrich peoples lives by the quality of produce and by an equitable share in the income generated.