How and when nitrates and chemicals changed British farming

Zoë chats with Graham Harvey about the introduction and impact of nitrate fertilisers

Graham Harvey is a writer on food, farming and the countryside. He has had a passion for natural farming since his teenage years and studied agriculture at Bangor University. Graham has been closely connected with Radio 4’s hugely popular programme “The Archers”, since 1984 when he joined the programme as a script writer. He has worked with the programme ever since and continues to advise them on agricultural story lines as a freelance consultant. Graham is the author of several books including: “The Killing of the Countryside”; “Grass Fed Nation”; and “We want real food!”

In this first podcast, Graham gives us a concise history of the introduction of nitrates into British farming and the impact of World War I and World War II on the chemical fertiliser industry (and concomitant explosives industry!) We learn how the farming war powers were not given up post WWII, as had been promised by Churchill and what that has meant for farmers. We find out what Graham would do if he were food and farming minister and what change Graham has seen during his many years of being an expert in this field (no pun intended!) We closed with some staggering insights into ‘the wheat problem’ – why so many ruminants and other animals are being fed wheat and why the UK has so much of the stuff!

You can find more about Graham at
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