Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: Fact and fantasy

628 Responses

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  • BenWilson, in reply to Farmer Green,

    Even teams of multi-disciplinary analysers could not arrive at the same view as the view held by someone inside the farm “organism”.

    I'm so going to use that when someone says my garden is full of weeds.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 8459 posts Report Reply

  • Tim Michie, in reply to BenWilson,

    "But the grove of stranglewort took years of inattention to cultivate."

    Auckward • Since Nov 2006 • 554 posts Report Reply

  • mccx, in reply to Farmer Green,

    Well now I have nothing to disagree with. I suppose there's a lesson to be learned more generally about agreeing on terms before proceeding with what to do about those terms.

    Wellington • Since Jan 2012 • 27 posts Report Reply

  • Farmer Green, in reply to mccx,

    Getting better environmental performance out of farming doesn’t just take farmers, it requires change in the sector and government as well.

    Individual farmers can change out of enlightened self-interest, even in the face of disparagement , isolation, or any other discouragement, provided that they can summon the personal resources needed to overcome adversity.
    Getting change over the whole industry is another problem altogether.
    Farmer Green has hosted all manner of industry commentators , punters, operators, educators, regulators, farm advisors, veterinarians, agronomists, economists, students , sharemilkers conferences, farm discussion groups etc. over the years. He did that for his own purpose which was to subject his operation to the most discerning critics in order to expose any weaknesses that might halt his progress.
    It is possible that some farmers have been encouraged to make similar changes as a result of encountering FG’s operation ; FG wouldn’t know.

    Farmer Green has always held that he could have made a bigger impact by engaging in conspicuous consumption, arriving at the local saleyards in the most expensive cars etc. because that sort of behaviour does elicit curiosity; -“where’s he getting all that money from” . “I think I'll drive home past his farm and see what he’s doing”. That is one way that change occurs in rural communities.
    But FG rarely goes anywhere, and doesn’t have much inclination to change that.
    Another way is to have a big retail presence with one’s products; even farmers have to go to the supermarket sometimes. But when one has a pull -marketing strategy there is no big ticket display/ advertising to draw attention to what is being done.
    And a presence on blogs such as this has little impact if any, even if other farmers were to stumble upon it.
    As Gary Taylor of EDS somewhat obliquely suggested in media today, stocking rate limits will have to come into force sooner rather than later , because that single factor limitation will also limit nitrogen fertiliser use , bought in feed, and will reduce soil damage from treading.
    It's a good start, but there needs to be a carrot too.

    Lower North Island • Since Nov 2012 • 351 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to Farmer Green,

    Do you have a website? Do you know @farmgeek?.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 8459 posts Report Reply

  • Chris Waugh, in reply to Farmer Green,

    And a presence on blogs such as this has little impact if any, even if other farmers were to stumble upon it.

    Maybe, maybe not. You've certainly had an impact on discussions here, and I'd be willing to bet other farmers are reading, and you may well have piqued their curiosity. I'm with BenWilson in asking if you have a website. If not, why not start a blog of your own putting all of these ideas of yours out there? I don't know how much traffic this guy gets, but he's got a message and he's putting it all in one place for those curious to see. No reason you couldn't do the same, assuming you aren't already, and you may well make a bigger difference than you realise if you do.

    Beijing • Since Jan 2007 • 2060 posts Report Reply

  • Farmer Green, in reply to BenWilson,

    Yes , there is a website and a facebook page, but FG deliberately left them out of the discussion, mainly for self-protection (not in respect of anyone on here). That is also the reason why FG uses an alias, both here and on several more international blogs.
    But what Farmer Green does is considered very radical by modern farmers, radically retrograde in fact ,whereas FG himself regards his operation as typical of the 100 or so years of agriculture before the last 50 years.
    Suggesting to dairy farmers that they (in agregate) produce the same amount of milk every day of the year would attract only disbelief that anyone could be so stupid.
    Out there in dairyland the opinion is that FG 's 550 acres with an EBIT/Ha to rival anybody's (except the dope-growers) is "not a serious operation". We laugh about that comment a lot.
    Here’s something that just caught FG’s eye :
    “The Waikato River (one of our dirtier ones) runs at less than 0.1 milligrams of nitrate /litre. The River Thames in England runs at 7mg/litre- 70 times more- but it was O.K. for the Queen.
    Our MOST polluted rivers are TWICE as good as the AVERAGE in Europe, North America and Asia”.

    Just putting things into a scientific perspective.

    Lower North Island • Since Nov 2012 • 351 posts Report Reply

  • Farmer Green, in reply to Farmer Green,

    Thanks for those links Chris and Ben.
    This is the biggest effort that FG has put into a blog on agriculture in this country; FG chose to respond here because he thought there were likely more with a somewhat jaundiced view here. So probably he was just giving the arguments another test -run to see if anyone picks a fatal hole (unlikely), but more importantly to check the palatability to an urban population.

    Lower North Island • Since Nov 2012 • 351 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to Farmer Green,

    Yes , there is a website and a facebook page, but FG deliberately left them out of the discussion, mainly for self-protection (not in respect of anyone on here).

    That's a pity.

    FG chose to respond here because he thought there were likely more with a somewhat jaundiced view here.

    But this place is chock-full of greenies who fully support permaculture ideals! If you're going to get disagreement it will be in the detail, rather than the basic ideas.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 8459 posts Report Reply

  • Matthew Poole, in reply to BenWilson,

    But this place is chock-full of greenies who fully support permaculture ideals! If you’re going to get disagreement it will be in the detail, rather than the basic ideas.

    Dare we suggest that he tackle the biggest site in, err, Kiwi blogging? That would be a "conversation" (one-sided and awful to behold, to be sure) that might actually inform current policy-makers, given that they appear loathe to engage with the intelligentsia who occupy this forum.

    The pit from whence crawl… • Since Mar 2007 • 3904 posts Report Reply

  • SteveH, in reply to Farmer Green,

    As you probably know the rate of increase in G.Av. T. has slowed to 0.03 deg. C. /decade for the period beginning 1997 to the present. (Had Crut)

    It is by no means clear that the rate of increase in global average temperature has slowed to 0.03 deg C per decade. There are several problems with that analysis as covered here: http://www.skepticalscience.com/global-warming-stopped-in-1998-intermediate.htm

    When ocean warming is included rather than just surface temperatures there is no indication that warming has slowed. At least two papers have shown this.

    The other global temperature records (NASA and NCDC) also don't show a reduced warming rate to anywhere near the same extent as HadCRUT3. It appears HadCRUT3 may have a sampling bias in that some of the areas that appear to be warming the fastest (e.g. the Arctic, Canada, Russia) are poorly covered.

    And it appears that recent warming has been masked by short term variations due ENSO, volcanism and solar irradiance. Foster and Rahmstorf's 2011 paper attempted to removed those short term effects and came to the conclusion that "there has not been any cessation, or even any slowing, of global warming over the last decade... It is worthy of note that for all five adjusted data sets, 2009 and 2010 are the two hottest years on record....All five data sets show statistically significant warming even for the time span from 2000 to the present." Their paper shows continued warming of about 0.15 deg C per decade.

    Since Sep 2009 • 394 posts Report Reply

  • Farmer Green, in reply to SteveH,

    Comments from the British Met office:

    Q.2 “Second, tell me what this says about the models used by the IPCC and others which have predicted a rise of 0.2 degrees celsius per decade for the 21st century. I accept that there will always be periods when a rising gradient may be interrupted. But this flat period has now gone on for about the same time as the 1980 – 1996 warming.”

    The models exhibit large variations in the rate of warming from year to year and over a decade, owing to climate variations such as ENSO, the Atlantic Multi-Decadal Oscillation and Pacific Decadal Oscillation. So in that sense, such a period is not unexpected. It is not uncommon in the simulations for these periods to last up to 15 years, but longer periods are unlikely.

    Q.3 “Finally, do these data suggest that factors other than CO2 – such as multi-decadal oceanic cycles – may exert a greater influence on climate than previously realised?”

    We have LIMITED observations on multi-decadal oceanic cycles but we have known for some time that they may act to slow down or accelerate the observed warming trend. In addition, we also know that changes in the surface temperature occur not just due to internal variability, but are also influenced by “external forcings”, such as changes in solar activity, volcanic eruptions or aerosol emissions. Combined, several of these factors could account for some or all of the REDUCED warming trend seen over the last decade – but this is an area of ONGOING research.

    Lower North Island • Since Nov 2012 • 351 posts Report Reply

  • Will Mandeville,

    This looks interesting

    www.biofarm.com
    anyone know anything about this crowd

    Central • Since Dec 2012 • 1 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to Matthew Poole,

    Dare we suggest that he tackle the biggest site in, err, Kiwi blogging?

    That would involve moving from Lawful Neutral to Chaotic Evil!. Too much! Or did you mean Kiwiblog, mere Lawful Evil, diabolical rather than demonic?

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 8459 posts Report Reply

  • Kyle Matthews,

    It is actually impossible for an outsider , even another farmer , to understand the intricacies of an individual farm .

    That might be true in the whole. But there's plenty of people who can turn up at a bunch of cows crapping on the banks of a stream and say "you need a fence here". If farmers can't fix some of these problems themselves voluntarily, then there's going to have to be some sticks if it's going to be fixed.

    Since Nov 2006 • 6165 posts Report Reply

  • Farmer Green,

    Of course, and it is intended that people should continue to focus on the banks of the streams, while remaining unaware of the diffuse pollution entering the stream through groundwater. The problem is NITRATE from urine deposited in excess of the anion exchange capacity of the soil at some distance from the stream.

    Lower North Island • Since Nov 2012 • 351 posts Report Reply

  • Matthew Poole, in reply to Farmer Green,

    The problem is NITRATE from urine deposited in excess of the anion exchange capacity of the soil at some distance from the stream.

    Not when it comes to cows shitting in the river it ain't. Nitrate pollution may well be an over-stocking problem, but there's only one cause of shit ending up in waterways and that's cows having access.

    The pit from whence crawl… • Since Mar 2007 • 3904 posts Report Reply

  • Kyle Matthews,

    The problem is NITRATE from urine deposited in excess of the anion exchange capacity of the soil at some distance from the stream.

    Also a problem that any knowledgeable/trained individual can make a useful contribution on. Fixing these problems has to be a partnership between the farmers who own/work the farm, and the external agencies. The idea that only person that can say what needs to be done is the farmer, and only on their farm is nonsense.

    Since Nov 2006 • 6165 posts Report Reply

  • Ross Mason,

    Upper Hutt • Since Jun 2007 • 1494 posts Report Reply

  • Farmer Green, in reply to Kyle Matthews,

    Then put on your farm advisor hat and explain how do do it while maintaining a viable farm organism.
    All manner of agricultural scientists will be hanging on your every word.

    Lower North Island • Since Nov 2012 • 351 posts Report Reply

  • HenryB, in reply to Farmer Green,

    Comments from the British Met office:

    "Q.1 `First, please confirm that they do indeed reveal no warming trend since 1997.'

    The linear trend from August 1997 (in the middle of an exceptionally strong El Nino) to August 2012 (coming at the tail end of a double-dip La Nina) is about 0.03°C/decade, amounting to a temperature increase of 0.05°C over that period, but equally we could calculate the linear trend from 1999, during the subsequent La Nina, and show a more substantial warming.

    As we’ve stressed before, choosing a starting or end point on short-term scales can be very misleading. Climate change can only be detected from multi-decadal timescales due to the inherent variability in the climate system. If you use a longer period from HadCRUT4 the trend looks very different. For example, 1979 to 2011 shows 0.16°C/decade (or 0.15°C/decade in the NCDC dataset, 0.16°C/decade in GISS). Looking at successive decades over this period, each decade was warmer than the previous – so the 1990s were warmer than the 1980s, and the 2000s were warmer than both. Eight of the top ten warmest years have occurred in the last decade.

    Over the last 140 years global surface temperatures have risen by about 0.8ºC. However, within this record there have been several periods lasting a decade or more during which temperatures have risen very slowly or cooled. The current period of reduced warming is not unprecedented and 15 year long periods are not unusual."

    From here for those interested.

    Palmerston North • Since Sep 2008 • 106 posts Report Reply

  • Farmer Green, in reply to Matthew Poole,

    there’s only one cause of shit ending up in waterways

    Yeah right , water fowl never shit in the water, and even if they accidentally did the shit would be free of coliforms , right?

    Lower North Island • Since Nov 2012 • 351 posts Report Reply

  • Farmer Green,

    Just to put some science around that , the acceptable level of E . coli for an infrequent swimming area (8 persons per thousand will experience an effect) is 576 cfu/100 ml on a single test.
    The last test farmer green did on the Manawatu River in mid -summer showed 390 cfu/100 ml.

    Lower North Island • Since Nov 2012 • 351 posts Report Reply

  • Farmer Green,

    Farmer Green has received some mail :-

    Participation in the NZ Emissions Trading Scheme



    Dear Participant

    Please see the attached letter in respect to your participation in the New Zealand Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS).
    It is important that you read this letter as you may need to respond.
    A number of changes have been made to the ETS and as a result you may now be exempt from emissions obligations under the scheme.


    YES!!

    Lower North Island • Since Nov 2012 • 351 posts Report Reply

  • Farmer Green,

    This one from the EPA was not such good news ; some of these phase-out times look way too long:-

    Agrichemicals recommended to be phased out are:

    Over a period of ten years: Diazinon, prothiophos
    Over a period of five years: Fenamiphos, methamidophos
    Over a period of three years: Dimethoate, fenitrothion, phorate, terbufos
    Over a period of six months: Benomyl, carbaryl/maldison, carbosulfan, phoxim, pyrazophos (None of the agrichemicals in this group have ever been registered under the ACVM Act and been used in New Zealand).

    Lower North Island • Since Nov 2012 • 351 posts Report Reply

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