The seemingly out-of-control problem that is bovine tuberculosis in Pembrokeshire is one that I thought I had the answers to.

Growing up on a farm that has only gone clear twice in the past 25 years, has instilled in me a very conventional perspective – obviously, the badgers are the problem!

Hence, ‘deal’ with the badgers and you deal with the problem. But as time passes the problem seems to become more complex. "What if the 'healthy’ badgers keep out the 'unhealthy' ones, then removing them allows the unhealthies in?"

Despite the onus remaining on the badgers, every other argument offers another solution. This serves to perpetuate the confusion – the science, the anecdotes and the hearsay are muddying one another’s waters.

I came across an article from the year of 1981, documenting a single case of bovine TB in Wales. It would appear so rife now that there is irrefutable evidence of the correlation between reported cases and badger populations.

A couple of questions at this point.

1) How has the testing for TB changed over the years? The methods? The frequency? The technology used then and now?

2) How have badger population estimates been recorded? With what technology then and now?

I would also like to point out something to be aware of when dealing with statistics; literally any two things can be correlated.

I recently finished a book about regenerative agriculture titled 'Call of the Reed Warbler' by Charles Massy. This approach, which is similar to that of permaculture, biodynamics, organics etc serves to enhance agricultural practices.

What I have come to learn is that the health of the soil is of the utmost importance. This has caused me to re-evaluate the effects of conventional agriculture.

Consider your farm as its own ecosystem. Within healthy soils, the biology is balanced. Excessive tillage and the use of herbicides and fertilisers are problems of intensive, conventional agriculture, as they degrade the soils and thus the nutrient-cycling biology within them.

Fungal networks, now known to be an integral component of healthy soils, provide the nutrients critical for healthy plants. They respond fast to invasion from pathogenic entities that enter the soils and so play an important role in neutralising those threats.

If the soil lacks access to nutrition, so too does the grass, so too the cow, the milk - and so too do we. Makes sense, right? But here's the thing, so too do the badgers! If any organism, animal or human, is lacking in nutrients, then their immune systems are compromised and they become more susceptible to pathogenic entities.

What I now see within conventional farming, are delicately inter-connected organisms within that ecosystem, all potentially lacking in nutrients, all potentially bearing compromised immunities. This begs the question, would a 'sick' badger shed more disease? Would a 'sick' cow contract the pathogens easier? What do the veterinarians say?

TB is caused by the bacteria Mycobacterium bovis. It is thought to be able to survive in soils for up to a year. Is it at all possible that the biological degeneration of soils contributes to the pathogens’ extended survival in the soil and therefore its transmittance to other organisms?

86% of all land in Pembrokeshire is farmland. That leaves the remaining 14 per cent for urban areas, roads, hedges, woodlands etc and all Pembrokeshire wildlife. What are the effects of conventional farming on all that land? Could we be polluting the land and the wildlife into ill-health?

Therefore, what would the graphs look like if we correlated TB cases against the intensity of fertiliser usage within Pembrokeshire, for example? If we correlated cases with intensity of wildlife species die-off, for example? What else could TB be correlated against? I believe it is time to think beyond solely the badger.

Major investments are made nowadays into developing and installing high-tech milking machines, cattle sheds, farming equipment... As a farm owner, as a land manager, would you invest in a technology that claimed it could grow more grass with reduced fertiliser usage? In a technology that claimed it could grow healthier fodder for healthier cattle, increasing yields and reducing illness? Would you invest in a technology that would prevent run-off and leaching and make the land more resilient in times of drought and flooding?

That technology is already here.

Please feel free to contact me. I would like to hear from others who may be thinking or acting on similar principles and take this necessary conversation about regenerative agriculture further.

If you can help Timothy Warner contact him at