Short Straw Grains

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Letter to BBC Farming Today Producers and Presenter Anna Hill,

Dear Anna

Hearing the broadcast today from the John Innis Centre regarding short straw grain varieties.
We would like to offer a warning. Breeding short straw varieties is shooting ourselves in the foot.
The modern scientists do not know, it seems, about  the history of crop breeding. Previously the organic long straw varieties never lodged in the field.
Why was this I hear you ask. It is all about the condition of the soil. The previous hertigae varieties did not lodge in the rain even with heavy yields of grain.
Now due to extensive use of synthetic fertilisers and pesticides the soils are becoming more and more depleted so much so that the root formations are never properly formed and lodging is the result.
So why are we shooting ourselves in the foot?
Becasue straw is the root of the fertiliser of the future. We will have less and less of it, to make fertiliser for all crops, if we continue to breed short straw varieties. Modern farmers have no idea how straw is the fertiliser of the future hence the burning of it all those years ago and the breeding of short straw varieties today.
Therefore we are offering a public warning that we will be putting on Twitter etc., and in my lectures to Universities, especially as there is already a fertiliser crisis as the price has increased in some cases up to five times. Your programme has also announced so many farmers are growing mush less this year due to these price increases.
The decline in the health of the population and nutrition in School meals etc.,is also due to depleted soils. The only way we will achieve healthy food is through healthy soil and this is achieved through good recycling to feed the soil and the breeding of the right fungi and bacteria in the process. This creates healthy soil and enables the root structures of plants to develop properly and attain the benefit of deep rooting to access the nutrients in the subsoil which bring about minerals, vitamins and proteins in our food.
Best wishes
Richard Higgins

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