It is all too easy to assume the soil makes available to the plant’s root system whatever nourishment it requires. However, if the soil is too acid or alkaline or there is an imbalance of trace elements, many of the important ingredients which encourage a strong and healthy root system could well be ‘locked up’ and rendered unavailable to the growing plant.
We also like to ensure there is a good worm count. These little creatures are a farmer’s best friend. They help with breaking down the organic matter and are an important assistant regarding drainage. Ground without worms is generally a sign of bad drainage and poor soil structure.
The advent of ‘min till’ has helped encourage worms and vastly improved the quality and condition of the seed bed. As long as there is good field drainage and ditches are well maintained the water has somewhere to flow. The plough is a tool which we use only sparingly when necessary to bury trash in a dirty field, or when re-sowing after grass. Min till also lessens the amount of run off during heavy rain fall which can result in losing vast quantities of top soil into ditches and rivers.
It seems incredible at a time when every agency which has an interest in the health of the nation are concerned by the escalating cases of obesity which is rife amongst all ages but particularly the young, that councils are actively still selling off playing fields for development.
Over the past 35 years more than 10,000 school playing fields across Britain have been lost beneath bricks and mortar. In recent years the sell-offs have slowed down but once again it is reported to be on the increase. Some local councils are stating that school playing fields ‘are surplus to educational requirements’. How crazy is that?
All children should be required to be actively involved in some kind of exercise or sport every day, it should be a major part of their education. It was always so in the past, in times when every child left school able to read and write and add up. Today far too many kids leave school unable to do any of the above and many are already grossly over-weight.
Children today get too much choice, the liberal attitude to nurturing them over several decades has been unhelpful and indeed left many confused, uneducated, unhealthy and unemployable. Michael Grove recognised this, highlighted the problems, tried to put in place a solution and was castigated by the very professionals who should surely have recognised he was right. He was then sacked by David Cameron for reasons best known to himself.
Local communities must stand up to the councils and make a real fuss at the merest whiff or whisper of attempts to sell off this precious, irreplaceable facility. Once it is gone our children and grand-children will be denied the opportunity to enjoy sport, keep fit and remain healthy. And many inner cities will lose these precious green lungs beneath yet more concrete and tarmac.
By the weekend we shall know the fate of Scotland. I have faith that the Scots are an intelligent race and that sense will prevail. But perhaps they should be reminded that ‘united we stand divided we fall’.
Why on earth would they vote YES for independence which will result in huge difficulties regarding their economy, health, defence and employment, when by voting No, they have already been promised more devolved power by David Cameron, Gordon Brown (for some reason) and others. Scotland can by voting NO have its cake and eat it, it has been handed a blank canvas to demand just about every conceivable privilege, concession and handout they could possibly want, as well as remaining part of one of the most stable economic nations in the world?
If the referendum on Thursday has been a ploy, as has been suggested, for Alex Salmond to gain additional powers from Westminster which he assumed he would lose, he is playing a very dangerous game. If by default the YES team win, Mr Salmond will go down in history as the man whose inflated ego buried Scotland. Let us hope common sense will prevail.
Carola Godman Irvine