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Some of the arguments for and against organic farming in the context of U.K. agriculture are examined.
Metadata describing this Open University video programme
Module code and title: T273, Food production systems
Item code: T273; 02
First transmission date: 31-03-1978
Published: 1978
Rights Statement:
Restrictions on use:
Duration: 00:24:30
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Producer: Patricia McCurry
Contributors: Sam Mayall; Dick Morris; Bernard Tinker; James Walters
Publisher: BBC Open University
Keyword(s): Agriculture; Fertilisers; Organic farming
Footage description: Brief shots of a farmer condemning chemical methods of farming. Shots of a plane spraying crops. Film shots of farm activities as they were forty years ago showing a highly labour intensive system geared to the large scale use of the horse. Commentary by Dick Morris explains the system of mixed rotation of crops as practised at that time. Over shots of Rothamsted Agricultural Experiment Station, of chemical fertilizer being loaded into a spreader and of a farmer fertilizing his field with chemicals, Dick Morris discusses the revolution which has taken place in U.K. agriculture. Bernard Tinker (Head of Soil and Plant Nutrition at Rothamsted) and Dick Morris (v/o) explain how the use of chemical fertilizers and weed killers makes rotation farming unnecessary. Shots of weeds like black grass and wild oats being sprayed from a tractor. Shots of diseased wheat. Tinker discusses, briefly, the problem of plant diseases. Dick Morris (v/o) discusses the reasons for increases in pests such as aphids since rotation farming was abandoned. Shots of aphids and large fields without hedges. Shots of aerial spraying of pesticides. Bernard Tinker joins the discussion. Shots of a chemist doing research into new pesticides. Dick Morris (v/o) discusses the problem of maintaining stable soil structure on a modern farm which uses large machinery and no organic fertilizers. Tinker joins in. Tinker and Morris (v/o) go on to discuss some of the reasons for a lack of general availability of organic matter to maintain soil structure on a large scale. Shots of muck spreading, zero grazing of cows and of cows being milked. Shots of slurry being pushed out of a barn. Sam Mayall a farmer who practises rotation farming and uses only organic fertilizers, explains how he came to adopt this regime and why he thinks it is superior to chemical farming. Bernard Tinker refutes some of Mayall's arguments and goes on to suggest that there just isn't enough organic fertilizer available in the country to make organic farming a going proposition. Mayall briefly answers these criticisms. James Walters (Arable Manager at Loseley Park, Guildford) explains some of the problems encountered on his farm which has recently experimented by changing from an inorganic to a partly organic system. Walters cites, as his first example, the poor performance of the grass crop after changing to organic fertilizers. Walters goes on, as his second example, to discuss the poor plant growth of the maize crop after changing to organic fertilizers. Shots of a stunted maize field and then a normal one. Walters, as his final example, recounts the disastrous results with some of the wheat crop after changing to organic fertilizers. Walters sums up with some reasons why organic farming is not economical at his farm. Sam Mayall refutes the economic arguments of the chemical farmers and points out that organic farming can be competitive with chemical. Morris (v/o), Tinker and Walters sum up the programme
Master spool number: 6HT/72704
Production number: 00525_5302
Videofinder number: 1054
Available to public: no