Rain has fallen in record-breaking amounts for months. Living in rural Carmarthenshire for the last twenty years, I have become aware of many physical as well as environmental changes.
We did get the occasional downpour that caused a flash torrent which picked up and carried a collection of debris along our country lane. As we are on a hill, it followed the natural contours and headed down to the brook that flows around the village of Ferryside where it joins other tributaries as they feed into the Towy river that eventually joins others in Carmarthen Bay.
Currently, all lanes and small roads in the surrounding countryside are awash with mud; the result of run-off from grass verges squashed and squelched under the huge wheels of giant tractors, milk tankers and articulated monsters delivering animal feed while incidentally doing some road-widening at the same time.
Last year, several surrounding fields were ploughed. It was the first time this had happened in the twenty years since my arrival. They were subsequently planted with corn which may have been intended for cattle-feed or bio-fuel. The ground was first sprayed with herbicide causing the fields to shrivel into rusty desiccation within two or three days. They were subsequently ploughed, further sprayed with cow-slurry and phosphates while being ingeniously tilled and drilled with seed in one mammoth operation. The results yielded bumper corn crops; possiby prompted by current EU farming policy, since more than one local farmer was involved.
Following the harvest, the fields have lain fallow without grass or plants of any kind – just acres of skeletal stalks sticking up from the mud; the whole resembling those battlefields depicted after World War I. With no plants soaking up the rain, the road alongside one of the fields near my home has flooded after every downpour with the field itself resembling a lake at the end nearest the road.
At a time when the world is being asked to be more environmentally aware, why are farmers using herbicides that must eventually leach toxins into the ecosystem, contaminating waterways and creating situations whereby fields are so poisonous they cannot grow grass. Is all this the result of science?