Peaty Soils

Oral Answers to Questions — Agriculture, Fisheries and Food – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 17th March 1983.

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Photo of Mr Tam Dalyell Mr Tam Dalyell , West Lothian 12:00 am, 17th March 1983

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food to what extent his Department carries out work on the suitability of various plants and crops for peaty soils.

Photo of Mrs Peggy Fenner Mrs Peggy Fenner , Rochester and Chatham

The agricultural development and advisory service carries out experiments on the growing of plants and crops on both acid and alkaline peaty in lowland conditions and ón acid peaty soils in the hills and uplands. This work represents about 2·5 per cent. of the total manpower effort on research and development in my Department.

Photo of Mr Tam Dalyell Mr Tam Dalyell , West Lothian

Have the researchers told the Minister that in order to obtain crops from acidic peaty soil vast quantities of lime and inorganic chemicals are needed, as Shackleton said? What is the cost, if use is to be made of this information, of transporting lime from the northern to the southern hemisphere? Is it surprising that the Davidson family have returned from their market garden? Would it not be better to recognise reality and go along the same lines as south Patagonia, where Mr. Pablo Llewelyn—

Photo of Mr George Thomas Mr George Thomas , Cardiff West

Order. The hon. Gentleman is imparting information instead of seeking it.

Photo of Mrs Peggy Fenner Mrs Peggy Fenner , Rochester and Chatham

The hon. Gentleman is well aware that assistance, for whatever purposes, from the Government to the Falkland Islands is a matter for the Minister for Overseas Development.

Mr. J. Enoch Powell:

Is the Parliamentary Secretary aware that one of the principal repositories of information and knowledge on this subject is the Northern Ireland Department of Agriculture? Does the hon. Lady agree that peat is called turf?

Photo of Mrs Peggy Fenner Mrs Peggy Fenner , Rochester and Chatham

I can certainly agree with the latter point. I am aware of Northern Ireland's great experience in this matter. The results of research in my Ministry are available to the world.

Photo of Mr Peter Mills Mr Peter Mills , Devon West

Will my hon. Friend inform the hon. Member for West Lothian (Mr. Dalyell) that if he is really interested in agriculture in the Falkland Islands—I welcome his interest if he is—he need only go to the southwest of England, where farmers are rearing superb cattle—hill cows and their calves—on peaty soils? The evidence is available there all the time.