U.K. crop circles and damaging a farmers' wheat.

Certainly the machinery that harvests wheat can’t harvest the stalks once they are mashed down on the ground.
This begs the question of why some bozo or two haven’t been shot by a farmer somewhere for effectively plowing under thousands of square feet of natural born , hand raised, golden grain.
Surely wheat farmers in England have an ax to grind. I Imagine it’s only a short time before some jackass goes missing from his mission to convince legions of boneheads that aliens exist, only to be found under a motorway overpass with a few sheaves of the stuff crammed down his throat.

Can the equipment harvest the fallen stalks?
Have there been any real prosecutions for this?

It is theoretically possible to arrange ahead of time with the farmer to pay in advance for any crop damage. If paid well enough a farmer might describe having seen “mysterious lights” and such the night before.

Not to mention that the farmer would get in a lot of trouble for doing such a thing… I doubt murder is an acceptable action to take when some guy is trampling your crop. Who’d know? Why all the victim’s buddies whom he’d been making crop circles with of course; individuals don’t do such things so they can read the paper the next day and smile all alone. Also don’t these pranksters usually work in small teams to get the job done? If 1 guy did say he was going out alone to such and such a field and never came back, his friends would probably go to the cops.

I think crop insurance for the loss be much simpler and safer for the farmer than vigilantism. Farmers blowing trespassers away happens much less frequently than many people think.

O.K. so weeks went a little overboard by suggesting murder, now let’s consider why the farmers don’t get super pissed. If the pseudo-aliens pay the farmers, then that settles it, but I’m not buying that the insurance companies are going along and the farmers premiums have to be getting really high.

Also, do we have a lot of this in the U.S. or is it a British thing? :confused:

From a 1992 National Geographic article:

It may be worth noting that spooky mysteries sell better than mere art, meaning that it’s in everybody’s financial interest to play up the supernatural angle.

I found a non-skeptical site with pictures of circles in Canada and the US.

there are far too many of them in the UK now for anyone to make any money off them.
All I can see is vandalism plain and simple.
Sure I went overboard on the murder angle, but c’mon, it’s akin to painting graffitti on cars in a car lot!

The crop circles are created under cover of darkness. What farmer is going to stay up all night, every night to ensure that 1% of his crops don’t get trampled?

A typical broke-ass american farmer whose bottom line is a few percent would

I beg to differ.

CIRCLE TOURS"Most tours have special private access to Stonehenge and crop circles as they appear." “Tours are between $2500 and $3500, depending on the particular tour and time. Send for your brochure and booking form.”


“Local sightseeing in Wiltshire, including going into the crop circles…” “PRICE: $1,900.”

Admittedly, I can’t be sure the tours actually fill up, but it looks rather like a thriving industry to me.

If crop insurance in the UK isn’t anything like in the USA, insurance companies aren’t going to be foaming at the mouth to cover a crop destroyed by “aliens”. Our crop insurance only covers natural disasters, act of god type things. Would crop circles fall into either of those categories? It’s fantastically hard to get a claim approved. How do the insurance companies know the farmer didn’t do it himself for the money?

Unless there’s a specific “crop circle” clause in English insurance contracts, which just feels weird to me.

am i the only one that noticed that?

I would think there’s virtually no chance anyone would submit a crop insurance claim for a crop circle, regardless of whether they’d be covered (which I highly doubt). Say the loss is 1 acre of wheat (and that’s a pretty big circle), at 40bu/acre, and $3.50/bu, you’re looking at $140 damage. Oilseeds or pulse crops will result in somewhat higher damages, but most of the circles I’ve seen pictures of have been in cereals, and none of them are worth any huge amount for the amount of area damaged.

In any event, I believe most crop insurance works on the basis of the yield of an entire field. So if you have 1 acre flattened on an 160 acre field, and otherwise the yield is normal, the 0.6% damage won’t come anywhere near bringing the yield down to the point where you’d actually get a settlement. I guess I should say, though, that it seems rather likely that fields in England don’t tend to be full quarter sections the way many are around here.

Finally, I’ll point out that this year in these parts there’s crop lying flat on the ground all over the place. It’s called ‘lodging’, and it’s extremely common if you have a thick, heavy crop and you get a hard downpour with high winds. All the college students in the province would have to go out circle-making every weekend between now and harvest to flatten as much crop as Mother Nature already has.

None of this is to say you shouldn’t expect the farmer to be pissed off at you if he catches you making a crop circle in his field.

mmmiiikkkeee writes:

> Farmers blowing trespassers away happens much less frequently than many
> people think.

Indeed, I think it’s quite rare. My memory of growing up on a farm is that farmers aren’t much more likely to own a gun than anyone else. Some are hunters, but some don’t particularly like hunters, since they sometimes trepass on fields when they haven’t been given permission. It’s possible that some farmers have stayed up nights with a gun in hopes of scaring off (or even to killing) intruders on their fields, just as it sometimes happens that the owner of a small store will stay up nights with a gun to confront burglars, but it’s rather rare. It’s hard to see how it’s worth it. The chances that you would confront an intruder are small. Should you succeed in shooting such an intruder, the chances that you would be charged with a crime are large.

Although shooting without warning and trying to kill them is unreasonable by (I hope) most rational people, I wonder if still might be legal in many places (Texas?), since they are clearly tresspassing on his land.

CLick the link. The article says 2002. 1992 was probably a typo.

I know the leading crop-circle makers here in the UK, and it’s possible I may have been involved in crop-circle making myself (but there’s no proof). The situation as best I understand it…

When crop circles were new, yes, some farmers were able to cash in by charging for admission / viewing and may have made more money than they would have realised from the crop itself. This may still happen with some major formations, but it’s getting rarer as the years go by. The novelty has worn off for most people, and farmers are rarely inclined to disregard the ‘vandalism’ because they can make money out of crop circle tourists.

The National Farmers Union (NFU) has publicly condemned the activites of crop circle makers and has offered substantial rewards for the apprehension and successful conviction of a circle maker. With very rare exceptions, they don’t like it, don’t think it’s funny, and just want it to STOP. I’m not aware that NFU members have ever successfully caught a circle maker, although I do think there has been at least one case of a circle maker being taken to court and fined.

Some circle makers have, in the past, paid the farmer for permission to do their stuff, but this is usually only when a TV or film company, or an ad agency, is coughing up the money. In the vast majority of cases, making a crop circle certainly involves breaking the law of trespass, and a good lawyer could probably make a case for criminal damage or vandalism.

A farmer would be entitled, under the law, to try and get circle makers to cease and desist their activity, and to enforce the laws of property and trespass, but would not be allowed to use more than ‘reasonable force’ to do so. This is intentionally not defined in law - it’s for magistrates to decide what it means in each case and whether someone has used ‘reasonable force’ or not.

Gun laws are pretty draconian here in the UK, but I believe farmers are allowed to keep shotguns with a licence, solely for dealing with vermin and wild animals. It would be utterly illegal to even AIM one of these guns at a circle maker, let alone actually use it even in warning, and in any such case it would be the farmer who would go away for some serious prison time.

Yeah, I’m still having trouble getting used to this new millennium thing. Sorry.

Although it might be smart to abandon my thesis in deference to ianzin’s greater experience (and here is the press release by the National Farmers Union), I’m inclined to be stubborn for a bit longer.

This 25/07/2004 article in the Telegraph reports that

“Landowners are benefiting too, receiving payments - from the companies or circle-makers - for allowing their fields to be used for the work [circles for use in commercials and movies]. The income easily covers the damage to crops, leaving farmers with a profit.” “The Country Landowners Association described the night raids by circle-makers as “rural graffiti”, but supported the idea of circle-makers and farmers working together to generate income.”

I think there is loads of money to be made wherever folks are open to the idea. At least for high-quality circles–I’m sure the poorly made ones are just a nuisance all around.

Here’s a mention (in Skepdic Mass Media Funk) of the circlemaker who was fined: “November 7, 2000. Crop circle prankster Matthew Williams, a 29-year old pagan, was fined £100 and ordered to pay £40 costs for damaging a corn crop which he decorated with a seven-point star.”

The Telegraph link above requires registration, but for the time being you can get the same article at The Age without registering.

[small hijack]
This site http://www.circlemakers.org/ belongs to a circle maker. It’s got a LOT of cool photos & explanations. Perhaps some of the work possibly done by ianzin is shown.
[/small hijack]

I’m not a farmer nor a harvester. But if it can, then the farmer wouldn’t care, now, would he?