The costs and benefits of rural mysticism
Jul 7th 2011 | HONEYSTREET, WILTSHIRE | from the print edition
Farm life, but not as we know it
WHETHER extraterrestrials or pranksters are to blame, in the Wiltshire countryside crop circles are costly: around £1,000 each, says Tim Carson, a farmer in the village of Alton Barnes, whose land has been dotted by 125 circles since 1991. Lost crops have become part of his annual routine, because his corner of the county is the global centre for crop circles. Fifty or more formations appear in Britain’s fields each year, usually between May and August; around three-quarters are in Wiltshire.
不论外星人还是某人恶作剧，Tim Carson这个生活在Alton Barnes的农民正因Wiltshire郊外的麦田怪圈每年承受着1000英镑的损失。自1991年起，他的田地里至今已有125个怪圈错落其中。因为他所在的乡村一角正是全球怪圈的集中地，损失农田对他来说已是家常便饭。每年英国都会出现至少50个怪圈 ，通常这类事发生在5到8月，而其中约有三分之二在Wiltshire。
They are likely to make farmers especially cross in what has already been a tricky year. Fuel and fertiliser prices have risen; a dry spring means yields are expected to be down 25-30% on last year in the south-west. Now Wiltshire is being trampled by summer tourists, many of them mystically inclined. Some circular formations are visited by thousands of these enthusiasts, causing further damage to crops and sometimes property.
Occasionally, there is an upside for farmers. In 1998 commercial circle-makers acting for Mitsubishi, a Japanese carmaker, paid Mr Carson for the right to cut an outline of a new model named the Space Star in his fields. The commission “more than compensated for the loss of crop”, he says. Shredded Wheat, a breakfast cereal, once had its logo carved in a wheat field. Some landowners charge for entry or solicit donations, though the tale of the farmer who made £30,000 from tourists is exceptional.