Are You Generating Lasting Wealth?

All wealth is generated by human creativity.  However, we can break down the sources of wealth into three categories:

  • Mineral wealth.  This comes from exhaustible resources such as fossil fuels, mined minerals etc.  As farmers, a proportion of our wealth is generated this way – fertilisers and fuel are significant inputs, albeit of varying significance between systems.  Any farming activity which degrades soil can also be classed as mineral wealth generation.
  • Paper wealth.  This comes from human creativity alone, although some may be traceable back to mineral sources.  It includes stocks and shares, selling of services such as consultancy and accountancy, and subsidies.  Much of this type of wealth relies on confidence in governments and the finance system – so can erode overnight with major global or national events.
  • Solar wealth.  This is produced from constant and inexhaustible energy sources, e.g., wind, tides and most of all the sun.  Conversion of solar energy through photosynthesis to feed people is the most sustainable and lasting source of wealth.

Why is this relevant?
The pricing shocks of the last 12 months and the forthcoming changes in agricultural support teach us that farming systems relying heavily on paper wealth (government subsidies) and mineral wealth (feed, fertiliser, fuel) are not generating lasting wealth.  Moreover, those who have not looked after their soils (e.g., overworked arable rotations with low organic matter and soil biology) cannot easily wean themselves off mineral inputs. 

The farm businesses that base a greater proportion of their income generation on solar wealth are set to see a significant rise in profits in the next year or two.

What proportion of your income is solar wealth?  Consider how much income you would generate with your operation stripped back to basics – no fertiliser, no purchased feed, only essential fuel for winter feeding and manure disposal.  If your business is still profitable then you are well-prepared for the future.  If not, target your investment from now on to increase your solar wealth generation – cow tracks, legume-based pastures, fencing, water systems, low-cost winter-feeding systems.  Above all these, ensure your soils are fit to convert sunlight to energy and protein with minimal inputs.

To make this assessment of your business, and for more information on Holistic Management methods, contact Tom on 07496 760242 or e-mail