Only recently it was announced that Beeswax Dyson Farming – Britain’s largest privately owned farming business – will realise a multi-million pound state-of-the-art indoor strawberry production facility in Lincolnshire, UK. Now the team with British company CambridgeHOK, chosen to design and build this huge new year-round strawberry production facility, updates us on the details.
A new six hectare glasshouse packaging and cold store facility in Carrington, near Boston, will be able to produce 750 tonnes of strawberries at any one time - providing what they say will be ‘the highest quality local strawberries all year round’. In addition, project leaders say the development will be a ‘first of its kind for size, complexity, sophistication and green credentials’ in the UK horticulture market.
"It will see heat generated from the current onsite anaerobic digester biogas plant, where maize and rye silage is converted into energy, stored and used as and when required in glasshouse enabling major energy savings", they explain. "Biogas will also be extracted, cleaned and converted into CO2, to be used to enhance the growing environment and improve crop yields inside the glasshouse."
Methane gas, which is already created by the anaerobic digestion process, will be used to create electricity to power the glasshouse – and power over 7,700 homes - through a specially built Combined Heat & Power (CHP) system. The site will even be self-sufficient in terms of water usage, with the entire site harvesting rainfall to be reused in irrigation systems.
LED lights and energy curtains
While the energy is gained in a sustainable way, also everything is done to save as much energy as possible in the greenhouse. The glasshouse will benefit from energy-saving and light pollution screens to save heat for use at night and to provide shade during the day. The greenhouse will be equipped with Signify LED lighting systems to aid winter production and Signify flowering lamps to maximise flower growth and fruit. In total 6,800 LED flowering lamps (11 watts) will be installed.
The plants will be grown on swinging hanging growing gutters to allow access for harvesting, and a self-sufficient water system will enable rain-water harvesting across the site.
Multi-million pound project, a year in planning and development
The project has been confirmed following a year of planning between Beeswax Dyson Farming, which is owned by one of Britain’s most famous inventors, James Dyson, and CambridgeHOK.
During that time, commercial glasshouses, indoor farming and energy specialist CambridgeHOK has advised on the concept and in developing the business case, looking at potential yield, values of yield and how quality control can be assured, assessing the overall market opportunity. Now, with planning permission secured, work on site is due to start with a target of production beginning early next year. This means that 82,700 m2 of glass, 266 tons of steel and 140 tons of aluminium, 1,800 galvanised steel posts, 282,000 aluminium roof glazing bars, 3,247 ventilation windows, 60,000 metres of dripper irrigation pipework, 122,000 metres of heating pipework (enough to reach from the site in Lincolnshire to Birmingham) and 1,500,000 litres of hot water within the heating system will all be put together to make this project work. Levelling and profiling work is expected to start next month, as will piling, with around 1,800 concrete piles required to support the development.
As well as the glasshouse, CambridgeHOK will construct a 1,500 square metre packing and cold store facility, where strawberries will be housed and made ready for collection and delivery, as well as a portal frame building which will house office staff, kitchens, and restrooms.
It will also be responsible for the construction of access roads, car parking and lighting across the new site.
Unique in size
All of this makes it not only a huge development in the UK horticultural sector, as this development is the first of its kind in its sheer size, complexity, sophistication and green credentials, says Ross Hibbs, commercial director at Newport based CambridgeHOK.
“We are extremely proud at CambridgeHOK to have worked alongside Beeswax Dyson Farming over the past 12 months to bring this project from initial concept to the stage where we will now embark on making it a reality. This project will use cutting-edge techniques and technology to produce the highest quality British grown strawberries all year round, something our leading brand supermarkets and local distributors are desperate to see – as are consumers. It will also be the most energy efficient and green development of its kind. We are all very excited at what is ahead over the coming nine months.”
CambridgeHOK will oversee the design and onsite construction and development of the glasshouse, which has been manufactured by its long-term partner, Netherlands-based specialist Havecon. "Combined with our specialist knowledge in automated climate control systems, irrigation and energy systems, we will ensure the very best operational performance."
Mr Hibbs says securing the huge project is a huge vote of confidence in CambridgeHOK and its reputation. “Beeswax Dyson Farming has a reputation for being a modern and hi-tech farming business which is committed to producing the best produce in the interests of both customers and the environment, for the long term,” he said. “We are delighted that we were the chosen firm to deliver this vision for them and have led this project from concept through planning and now into development.”