Crest

A view from the West

Featuring food, fuel and the future in Jersey

Perennial bit
Sustainability, community, diversity!
This is a personal view of aspects of life in Jersey, Channel Islands. It focuses on the challenges of peak oil, food production, population density and climate change on our Island's fragile social, ecological and political systems



The future of vegetables and pulses.
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st_ouennais



Interesting read from the London School of Hygene and Tropical Medicine.

https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2018-06/lsoh-pec060818.php

"If no action is taken to reduce the negative impacts on agricultural yields, the researchers estimate that the environmental changes predicted to occur by mid- to end-century in water availability and ozone concentrations would reduce average yields of vegetables and legumes by 35% and 9% respectively. In hot settings such as Southern Europe and large parts of Africa and South Asia, increased air temperatures would reduce average vegetable yields by an estimated 31%."

Also I note it comments on one of the memes quoted by certain  people  locally about C02 being  'plant food' and elevated levels  increase yields.  "Previous research has shown that raised levels of carbon dioxide would increase crop yields, but this study identified for the first time that these potential yield benefits are likely to be cancelled out in the presence of simultaneous changes in other environmental exposures."  I shouldn't but I   can , so : told you so!

Just in case you were wondering, no we (the world) aren't  reducing our greenhouse gas emissions.  We aren't hitting those Paris agreement targets.  Quite the opposite.   https://e360.yale.edu/digest/co2-levels-break-another-record-exceeding-411-parts-per-million From 2016 to 2017, the global CO2 average increased by 2.3 ppm — the sixth consecutive year-over-year increase greater than 2 ppm, according to Scripps researchers. Prior to 2012, back-to-back increases of 2 ppm or greater had occurred only twice.

For the present our household is awash with our own lettuce, broad beans, peas and strawberries.


Assemblée Paroissiale
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st_ouennais

An Assembly of Principals and Electors of the Parish of St Ouen will be held in St Ouen’s Parish Hall on Wednesday 13 June 2018 at 9pm to:


  • receive, and if deemed advisable, approve the Act of the Parish Assembly held on Wednesday 6 December 2017

  • elect from the inhabitants of the Parish, without regard to Cueillettes, a Constable’s officer for Petite Cueillette

  • elect from the inhabitants of the Parish, without regard to Cueillettes, a Constable’s Officer for Grande Cueillettes

  • elect from the inhabitants of the Parish, without regard to Cueillettes, two Constable’s Officer for the Cueillette de Grantez

  • elect in conformity with Article 5 of the Loi Sur la Voirie a Roads Inspector for the Cueillette de Millais


In the field
Crest
st_ouennais


Finally a drop of rain.  I am still behind my usual timetable, but slowly catching up.  Today the frame for runner beans went up

The overwintered broad beans and peas are being harvested, and yesterday we had our first strawberries of the season.

Today I also encountered toads and a slow worm




Finally is feels as though Spring is here
Crest
st_ouennais
A slight drying out of the soil so I've spent the day catching up on a huge backlog of planting and sowing. The last 2 beds of Lady Balfour potatoes planted and a bed of various flowers sown. The brussels sprouts are also now out protected by mesh. In the greenhouse Yacon is waiting to go out and the asparagus seed has geminated. Outdoor tomatoes have been sown. I lost a quantity of early french beans to mice. Outdoors the direct sown onion look like they have geminated and Helen is very pleased we are still cutting decent lettuce planted last autumn. The first flowers have appearred on the strawberries. The pink blosson is fading on the cherry trees but the blackthorn is full of snowy white flowers. It is later than of recent years, but hopefuly that will mean better pollination and so more fruit to pick. Yes I'm tired. Tomorrow it is preparing more beds for the first sowings of carrots, salsify and parsnips.

Don't tell the atheists....
Crest
st_ouennais

According to the JEP 10th March (Connetable) Mr Paddock added that the parish was currently working on figures to show ratepayers how much the work could cost them. These will be presented at an ecclesiastical parish assembly, which, in a break with tradition, is to be held in the church and not the parish hall, on Wednesday 21 March starting at 7.30 pm.

Oddly the notice doesn't appear on the official notices Gazette Where the previous Ecclesiastical assembly does appear.

Couple that with moving the assembly location from the usual Parish Hall to the Church itself and one has to wonder if some manipulation is going on here.

I am unclear if I can make it yet - it is my daughter's birthday today, but it seems clear to me some questions need to be raised.

The Parish is responsible for maintaining the fabric of the building - wind and water tight. £280,000 seems a lot to do that unless there has been some unexpected damage, even then that might be covered by insurance. It is a point that irritates me when the States undertake major building work too - they seldom present realistic figures for the ongoing commitment of costs for maintenance and repair. So the first question is when was work last done to the Church at this scale. The supplementary being why was there no ongoing provision in the accounts to save up funds towards this inevitable cost?

My second question is about timing. Who determines when work should be done on the Church particularly in repsect of the Parish responsibility. If it isn't urgent then can the work be postponed?

The third question: why isn't this figure being presented at a rates setting/budget meeting? Unless the work is urgent it should be set out against the other commitments and priorities of the Parish, some of which might be urgent or more timely. Perhaps the Parish would like to spend £200k on solar panels and groundsource heat pumps for the old people's homes and the Parish Hall and offices. That might reduce our fuel costs notably and even produce a bit of income from sale of energy bact to Jersey Electricity at the same time as doing something toward our obligations under the Energy Pathway 2050 plans of the States.

I can see some logic in doing both the Parish responsible work and other work at the same time - it is likely to reduce overall costs compared to two sets of work. And that brings me to the last point. The glossy leaflet on the changes writes about the Church being at the heart of the parish activities. Geographically that is never going to happen - as the church is in one corner of the Island's largest Parish. That's why St George's was built. But suppose it is successeful at becoming a focal point of activites, what impact study has been carried out on what that means for the rest of the facilities in the Parish.

Agriculture, growth , intensification and social structure.
Crest
st_ouennais

Now there's a heady mixture of things very germane to our Island. I have often remarked how Jersey society appears far more stratified and rigid in that stratification than anywhere else I have lived. Of course there is also a case going back a few centuries that Jersey's agriculture has been very intense - one reason many political commentators of the 18th and especially 19th century came here. This paper puts some perspective on how we may have arrived where we are.

The key observation "rather than intensification of agriculture leading to social stratification, the two evolve together".

So is Jersey's hierarchic, pseudo feudal structure and its noted agricultural history a self reinforcing feedback loop. And if, as this paper suggests, it is what then do we do to change that? Can we read that the pending demise of agriculture locally foretells a break from the rigid strata of our society?

Big questions, important questions. Don't expect to hear any answers in the coming elections though.



http://www.shh.mpg.de/868699/agriculture-and-hierarchy

Assembly
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st_ouennais
St Ouen Ecclesiastical Assembly


​An Assembly of Principals and Electors of the Parish of St Ouen will be held at St Ouen's Parish Hall on Tuesday 6 February 2018 at 8pm to:

approve, if deemed advisable, the Act of the Ecclesiastical Assembly of the 17 May 2017

to elect replacement Church Officers for the balance of the year 2017-2018

to authorise the Rector and Surveillants to seek an appropriate retrospective Faculty from the Ecclesiastical Court in relation to the recently replaced Altar Frontals

to authorise the Connétable, Procureurs du Bien Public, the Rector and Surveillants to attend the Royal Court to be party to the Deed of Arrangement to conclude matters in relation to the amendments to the boundary of Field 630 as originally approved at the Assembly of 25 May 2016
Tags:

Choice matters.
Crest
st_ouennais
From https://static.ewg.org/reports/2011/meateaters/images/brochure6a.png This link gives a sharper image you can enlarge.

https://pbs.twimg.com/media/DWTss6oX0AEPzNN.jpg

NPK. and two of them are a problem
Crest
st_ouennais


Every gardener is aware of the three basic mineral requirements for plants  - nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium. They are usual refered to by ther chemical symbols NPK.   There are planty of other elements/minerals required in micro amounts for healthy plants too, but those are the big three.

Most people have some awareness of the problems of nitrogen in the form of nitrates and nitrites in drinking water (and processed food  especially cured meats).  Very few  are aware there is a problem with  phosphorus too. In fact the nitrogen and phosphorous cycles combined form one of the nine  limits of the safe operating space of the planetary boundaries approach  advocated by the Stockholm resilience centre.  On this model we have already crossed the boundary of what is safe on both the climate change and biodiversity loss metrics.  It is also thought we have crossed the nitrogen limit, but not yet the phosphorus one.  But that does not mean there is no problem with phosphorus.   See
https://news.agu.org/press-release/phosphorus-pollution-reaching-dangerous-levels-worldwide-new-study-finds/ In essence too much nutrient causes problems (eutrophication) and in aquatic systems this leads to algal blooms.

Like nitrogen there is a natural flow that happens, but also an additional loading from highly soluble forms used in agriculture.  As it happens phosphorus in large scale accessible forms for  artificial fertilizer is in fairly short supply and there are estimates we might be out of practical  mining  quantities in 50 years.   It seems obvious we need to find ways to reduce usage and losses and to recover and recycle what we do use.  And that points back to farming and growing practices. In the old days guano (dried bird droppings) was much prized as a fertilizer as it had  all three of the basic elements in useful quantities.  Any got a colombier?

Did I forget to mention  excess phosphorus in water is also associated with rapid sea lettuce  growth.  Another reason to make sure we are on top of this locally.


Nitrates in water
Crest
st_ouennais


The levels of nitrates in the ground water in Jersey is a long standing problem.  Treatment or removal is not a simple cheap thing, and it has long been the case that avoidance is the best  option.  However some interesting ideas from Rice University might beget a solution (other than reed beds!)  http://news.rice.edu/2018/01/04/rice-u-s-one-step-catalyst-turns-nitrates-into-water-and-air-2/

Their research suggests nonparticles of gold  spotted with palladium can break apart the chemical bonds in nitrates. The result is oxygen and nitrogen gases - both components of air .  It sounds promising.  But there's a potential a catch.  Gold is pretty inert and probably harmless as a metal to most lifeforms, You'd think the nanoparticles are safe too. But that's the problem. Nanoparticles can have distinct properties.  Not only can this change the chemiistry - as in this example, but also they are of a size to be mechanically important in blocking some fine biological functions. It is an area where we still don't really know  enough .  And there is one other problem, a big one to my mind.  Once in the 'wild' we have no way to recall or  recover these nanoparticles.  If we later discover an unexpected deleterious consequence to two we have no remedy.

So this  nanoparticle catalyst looks like an inteting area of reserch, but if I were mindful of public safety and ecology I still opt for  ion exchange or red beds for the forseeable future.


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