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Allotments more productive than farming shock!

Dave Goulson is Professor of Biological Sciences at the University of Sussex and founded the Bumblebee Conservation Trust.

I’ve just finished reading his book “The Garden Jungle” and if you have ever enjoyed gardening I think you are going to like it.

He talks about how many of the pests we tend to dislike, especially Earwigs, are in fact good for your garden, eating many of the insects which are not good. And there is much research quoted on the use of pesticides particulary in the plants we buy at garden centres and how to grow plants that protect each other when grown together or rotated.

He is a big supporter of allocating more allotments around the country. At the end of the First World War there were 1.5 million. By 1997 there were 265,000. They are back up to 330,000 now.

But the fact which struck me is that allotments are way more productive than farming. A competent allotment holder can get yields of between 31 and 40 tonnes per hectare (which is more or less 2.5 acres). A farmer gets about 3.5 tonnes of oil seed rape or 8 tonnes of wheat per year from every hectare of land. He adds we should bear in mind that one third of the UK wheat crop is unfit for human consumption and is used for livestock feed. In contrast 100% of allotment food is available for humans to eat.