In the end I took the plunge, mainly because I wanted to learn more about the evident damage that modern agricultural methods is inflicting on the U. Looking at the countryside from your car window at the height of the growing season it is easy to suppose that all is well in our green and pleasant land. The Lake District farmers have little choice but to overstock their pastures. Peregrine, kestrel and heron have flown over it. There are now almost as many of them as there are of us — 46 million three years ago. The rivers are losing their clarity and their fish as nitrate residues leach into the watercourses.
Therefore a chemical company has only to show that the new wonder product will yield more than its own value in extra output to be assured of a market. Pesticides, herbicides, fungicides are being used in quantity and in ever more frequent cycles to kill biological, insect and animal life indiscriminately. Such a separation is always hostile to humanity. Over then past fifty years the British countryside has changed out of all recognition. Essentially it looks at how the post war policy to increase the supply of food by subsidies based on output created an economic incentive for pesticides, herbicides, monocultures and chemicals which will increase yields. It represented a rich, semi-natural wildlife habitat covering more than ten million acres. They were caterwauling like people who had been tortured.
The fact is that, partly by luck and partly by choice, I have managed to live and take my recreation in places where the ground is so rough or steeply contoured that the industrialisation of farming has been less easy to apply. Subsidies have also encouraged the ploughing of marginal land and the draining and farming of marsh land and areas previously left as meadows, Graham shows how the subsidy system rapidly turned our way of farming from what that was good for the land mixed farming of crops and livestock raising, multi-crop growing, field rotation as a means of nurturing the soil etc. Thyme, tormentil and eyebright, heather and blaeberry have little chance against their monstrous regiment. In only sixty years the British countryside has changed from being predominantly meadows and grasslands abundant with orchids and bees to virtual monocultures of rye grass whose wildlife is largely confined to clipped hedges and mown verges. The scar on my conscience never quite healed and was opened again one afternoon between Thirlmere and Keswick, when the whole vale resounded with the agonised voices of ewes parted from their lambs. Often he leads into a stage of his argument by describing an agricultural settlement or district that is good-looking and by the same token humane. Harvey is restrained; his deep-dyed opposition to the sharks who have eaten out the liver of the countryside shows through briefly and unmistakably.
What Graham outlines and says in this book matters. Last summer I was up there at dusk. It need not have happened. The downs and meadows are falling silent. They need more out of life — they should get it. High levels of nitrogen fertiliser render crop plants more susceptible to disease. .
Throughout, he provides a wealth of statistics that show the extent of what happened and what is continuing to happen. The old ways of crop rotation and laying fallow fields for regrowth end up less attractive compared to the commodinisation of food with dire consequences for the wildlife and local farming co I gave this book 5 stars because of how informative it is whilst still easily readable. Now all is matt yellow or matt green from edge to edge of each huge field. We crucify and enslave our fellow animals all the time. In the Arctic winter of 1947, I remember, one-fifth of the national flock had died of snowdrift and cold by March: it came to a mere four million.
Subsidies have encouraged the overstocking of grazing sheep and cattle thereby causing damaging erosion of the soil. Companies and governments alike do little more than apply green make up to their ugly features. This book exposes the stark reality. What has been lost and how we got here is the story of this book. Most of that bramble hedge is now cut by a contractor with a hydra-mower, and if he gets round to the job in October, he destroys the fruit. In Hertfordshire, it was reported in March, great numbers of people had to boil their water.
Today our countryside is a dead zone for much of natural life. The list of book contents below give some idea of the breadth of issues Graham addresses. Over then past fifty years the British countryside has changed out of all recognition. He was rewarded by his fellow rural rich with hate-mail and menacing messages on his answering machine. The loss of our wildlife and countryside has come about through a deliberate and sustained national policy, one that costs the British people 8 billion a year. Find Us In The Yellow Pages.
It has given us expensive food, e. Last year the price they got for sheep was the same as it had been in 1983 and some of them are having to sell their stone dykes to make ends meet. About this book Reminiscent of Hutton's The State We're In or Rose's In the Name of the Law, this book, from an acute observer of British agricultural practices for many years, examines the way in which the British countryside has been ravaged by modern agricultural policies and practices over a period of fifty years. He begins with a lament for the vanished hay-meadows, musical with skylarks and linnets, the chalk downs halcyon with milk-wort and bell-flowers; 97 per cent of meadow-land has gone since the war; 150,000 miles of hedgerow at 11,000 miles a year; 200,000 farms; 880,000 jobs more than three-quarters of the total. The bellowing and hollering from behind the farm nearby told me that she had been frantically plunging through the fences to get back to the calf from which she had been separated for the autumn sales. In the past quarter-century, three-quarters of the song thrushes have gone and more than half the lapwings, skylarks and linnets.