11 December 2019
When I wrote for The Archers one of my farming storylines featured farmer Adam Macy and his herbal leys. These flower-filled pastures bring fertility back to soils wrecked by decades of annual crops and toxic chemicals. Out in the real countryside nearly half our soils have been degraded this way. It’s why our wildlife is vanishing and we face a future of extreme weather events.
Archers characters Adam Macy and Brian Aldridge (Andrew Wincott and Charles Collingwood)
For decades we were told chemical fertilisers and pesticides were essential if we’re to grow enough food. But it’s a myth dreamt up after the so-called ‘green revolution’ of the 1970s. In reality the chemical revolution was anything but green. It stripped landscapes of natural features such as hedges, woods and wetlands. Plus the chemicals slowly wiped out living organisms in the soil, the underground army that supports all terrestrial life.
The ‘green revolution’ has now dumped as much carbon into the atmosphere as our fossil fuel burning. Many soils are so lifeless they’re little more than wastelands. They no longer function as fertile, living soils. As a result the earth’s natural cooling systems are breaking down causing the planet to warm. But here’s the good news. Nature has given us a get-out-of-gaol card. Starting now we can restore our planet and its weather patterns to normality. At the same time we’ll enjoy healthier foods and a countryside rich in wildlife.
Sound too good to be true? Pioneering farmers across the world are making it happen using a farming system known as regenerative agriculture. Among its techniques are flower-filled herbal leys along with the grazing animals that thrive on them. Get ready to unlearn everything you’ve been told about ruminants being bad for the planet. In the real world they’re part of the solution.
Land Alive will bring you the stories of the new landscapes and the inspirational people who are creating them. What they’re shaping is a countryside that benefits all of us and not just a handful of biotech companies. It’s a movement based on hope for the future and a recognition of our responsibility to nature. Join us in this great adventure.