The Anonymous Widower

Railway Engineers Build Beaver Pass On Highland Line

The title of this post, is the same as that of this article on the BBC.

This is the introductory paragraph.

Railway engineers have built what they believe is Scotland’s first ever ‘beaver pass’, to allow the animals to go under the Highland mainline.

Let’s hope the remedial action works, as otherwise, there’ll be increasing train delays caused by beavers, as their numbers and dams proliferate.

The Scottish NFU is also against the reintroduction of beavers, as this article on the Scottish Farmer, which is entitled Don’t Protect The Beaver illustrates.

I can see trouble ahead!

August 2, 2021 Posted by | Transport, World | , , , , | Leave a comment

Strawberries From Dyson

With my supper tonight, I had some strawberries from Marks & Spencer.

I regularly eat strawberries and raspberries, when they are available.

But, these were particularly nice.

So I checked the label and found that they had been grown by Dyson Farming in Lincolnshire.

This page on the Dyson Farming web site describes their Strawberry Production.

  • The aim is to help the UK to be self-sufficient in food and cut air miles associated with imported soft fruit.
  • The strawberries are grown in a 15-acre greenhouse.
  • The greenhouse is heated by waste heat from a nearby anaerobic digester.
  • The greenhouse contains 700,000 strawberry plants.
  • Every year 750 tonnes of strawberries will be produced.
  • The website talks of in future using robotic picking and LED lights to prolong the growing season.

Is this the way strawberries will be farmed in the future? You bet, it will!

Dyson Farming seems to be innovating in the growing and marketing of Barley, Oilseed Rape, Peas, Potatoes and Wheat.

Use Of Carbon Dioxide

I wonder if carbon dioxide captured from a gas-fired power station could be added to the greenhouses to aid the production of strawberries. There certainly are a lot of serious research papers on the Internet looking at the effects of carbon dioxide on strawberry production.

Dyson Farm’s location in the South of Lincolnshire, is probably not a good location, as the large power-stations are in the North of the county.

Robotic Picking

I first saw it said in the 1960s, that at some point in the future no fruit will be grown unless it could be harvested by machines

Dyson states they are going that way with strawberries.

Could it also be one of the reasons for large strawberries, which we increasingly see in the shops, is that they ar easier for robots to pick?

LED Lighting To Prolong The Growing Season

This is surely logical, if you have enough electricity.

The Anaerobic Digesters

Their two anaerobic digesters seem to be able to produce a total of around 5 MW of electricity. This is said on the web site.

The anaerobic digesters produce gas which drives turbines producing enough electricity to power the equivalent of 10,000 homes. This green energy also powers the farming operation.

There are two by-products from this process:

Digestate, which is applied to nearby fields as an organic fertiliser to improve soils and crop yields. It is expected that strawberries will be grown in the digestate in future as well.
Heat is captured and used to warm the glasshouse and encourage the strawberries to grow at a time of year when traditionally it has been too cold.

In some ways, the farming operation is run more like an efficient integrated chemical plant, than a large farm.

Conclusion

Anybody with an interest in farming or the environment should read the Dyson Farming web site.

I can envisage a farmer with a sunny but unproductive twenty-acre field contacting Dyson to install their own strawberry greenhouse.

Farming will certainly change.

I shall certainly, be buying Dyson strawberries again.

And I suspect we all will be buying strawberries grown in this way in a few years.

 

April 16, 2021 Posted by | Food | , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Thermal Energy Storage The Key To Reducing Agricultural Food Pollution

The title of this post, is the same as that of this article on EurekAlert.

These two paragraphs, introduce the article and give the aim of the project.

University of South Australia thermal energy researcher Professor Frank Bruno has been awarded almost $1 million by the Federal Government to find a solution to agricultural pollution in Australia and India.

Prof Bruno, South Australian Energy Chair at UniSA’s Future Industries Institute, will lead a collaborative project with India’s biggest private university, LPU, to develop a renewable energy-driven food processing and drying system which alleviates both pollution and landfill issues in both countries.

The big problem in India is air pollution, a lot of which is caused by farmers burning rice husks. By collecting solar energy, which will be stored as heat and used to dry crops, there is hope that this pollution can be reduced.

The whole article is very much a must-read.

Conclusion

This very much sounds like a good way to cut pollution in areas with lots of solar energy.

December 12, 2020 Posted by | Energy, Energy Storage | , | Leave a comment

Memories Of Althorpe

On The way to Cleethorpes, I passed through Althorpe station.

This Google Map shows the area.

Note.

  1. The River Trent flowing South to North.
  2. Keadby power station at the top of the map.
  3. Althorpe station close to the bridge over the river.
  4. The village of Althorpe is at the South of the map by the river.

C and myself had friends, who farmed much of the land in the curve of river, South of the railway.

These are a few tales, some might enjoy.

Althorpe And Princess Diana’s Grave

I was once told, that regularly tourists would appear looking for the last resting place of Princess Diana.

Sat-navs may be a wonderful gadget for some, but they do lead those with a certain lack of common sense on wild goose chases.

C And The Tug-Boats

C once spent a night in their farmhouse, which was by the River Trent.

She didn’t sleep well, as tug-boats pulling barges were constantly going past and sounding their sirens. The river was actually above the house, due to the embankments to stop flooding.

Princess Anne And The Centrefold

Our friends’ daughter was a very good rider in eventing and used to supplement her variable income in the sport with modelling. At one point, I used her for some promotional shots for one of my companies.

Some years ago, she was competing at an event in Yorkshire. Coincidentally, this was just after she had appeared as the centrefold in a well-known men’s magazine.

The event was a bit of a nightmare for her, as paparazzi were following her with open copies of the magazine.

At one point, it all got a bit much, so she decided to sneak back to the calm of her horsebox, by a circuitous route.

As she walked back, she encountered Princess Anne, who was also competing and using the same route to avoid the paparazzi.

They talked about the pressures of the paparazzi, who were being a nuisance, with the Princess saying, she approved of my friends’ daughter’s modelling and hoped it continued, as it had taken the pressure off herself.

Flixborough

My friends’ farm was not far from Flixborough, which is infamous for the Flixborough Disaster in 1974, when a chemical plant exploded and killed 28 people and seriously injured a further 36.

My friends also lost several thousand pigs because of the explosion.

Wikipedia says this about the cause of the explosion.

The disaster involved (and may well have been caused by) a hasty modification. There was no on-site senior manager with mechanical engineering expertise (virtually all the plant management had chemical engineering qualifications); mechanical engineering issues with the modification were overlooked by the managers who approved it, nor was the severity of the potential consequences of its failure appreciated.

At the time, I had just left ICI and I was still in contact with my former colleagues.

One told me, that he had met a Senior ICI Engineer, who had been involved with the enquiry into the disaster.

The plant had been a copy of a Dutch plant, that had been built to metric units, which were converted to Imperial to build the Flixborough plant.

As ICI had used metric units since the mid-1950s, there was considerable alarm in the mind of the Senior Engineer, that when the hasty modification was made, someone got mixed up.

Would the Flixborough disaster have happened, if the plant had been built as a copy of the Dutch plant using metric units?

 

September 26, 2020 Posted by | Design, Sport, Transport, World | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Hydrogen Powered Tractors Could Be The Green Answer In That Industry

The title of this post, is the same as that of this article on Hydrogen Fuel News.

I agree with the title and the article is worth a read.

For some time, I’ve felt that hydrogen would be ideal to power a tractor and other agricultural machinery.

  • Now that companies like ITM Power have developed efficient electrolysers, the accessibility of the fuel is a lot easier.
  • Many farmers would have their own electrolyser.
  • Diesel is always getting nicked, but stealing hydrogen would probably be more difficult.
  • Hydrogen could also power the farmer’s cars.

Energy use on the farm could be very different.

May 21, 2020 Posted by | Transport, World | , | 2 Comments

Fruit And Veg Self-Sufficiency Ahead Thanks To Heat From Sewage Farms

This headline caught my eye on an article in today’s Times.

This is the introductory paragraph.

Britain will become far more self-sufficient in tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers and other produce under plans to tap heat from sewage farms and pipe it to giant greenhouses.

The idea of using waste heat to grow fruit and vegetables is not new.

The technique is used at Drax power station and at various Scottish distilleries.

Low Carbon Farming just intend to do it with heat from sewage works.

  • They have identified 41 sites in the UK.
  • The greenhouses will be larger than the O2.
  • The first two sites are in East Anglia and are being built near two of Anglian Water’s sewage works.
  • Fully developed, they could make the UK self-sufficient in tomatoes, cucumbers and peppers and for most of the year.
  • It would be a £2.67 billion investment, that would create 8,000 jobs.

Intriguingly, if they need more heat, they’ll use a fossil-fuel combined heat and power unit. The carbon dioxide produced will be fed directly to the fruit and veg, as it makes them grow faster.

Another Source Of Heat

In Exciting Renewable Energy Project for Spennymoor, I wrote about a Durham University project to use the waste heat in old coal mines to heat housing.

Could this heat be used to grow fruit and veg?

April 14, 2020 Posted by | Food, World | , , , | 1 Comment

Hydrogen Islands

I found this concept on the ITM Power web site.

This was the sub-title.

Islands tend to have abundant renewable resources yet they rely heavily upon importing fossil fuels, often at relatively high cost.

And this was the body of the page.

The integration of renewables into an island’s power grid soon creates substantial balancing and curtailment problems. These can be overcome by deploying controllable rapid response electrolysers to produce green hydrogen for the island’s transport, heat and power sectors. Projects such as BigHit are demonstrating how this may be achieved.

It would create a zero-carbon island for an Internet tycoon or a Bond villain.

I’m certain that the concept would work for somewhere like a farm or even a small village, which is effectively a landlocked island, with perhaps wind turbines or solar panels.

April 8, 2020 Posted by | Transport, World | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Balloons On The Line Blamed For £1m Worth Of Train Delays

The title of this post, is the same as this article in The Times

This is the first two paragraphs.

Families have been told to stop bringing helium-filled balloons into railway stations after they were blamed for delays that cost the network £1 million a year.

In the latest version of “leaves on the line”, Network Rail said there were 619 “balloon-related incidents” across Britain in the past 12 months.

Liverstock farmers don’t like them either, as they fall into fields and get eaten.

I don’t like banning things, but surely some regulation and sensible rules are needed.

 

April 19, 2019 Posted by | Transport, World | , , | Leave a comment

Does Talk Radio Make Telephone Fraudsters Go Away?

At the moment, I’m being plagued by telephone fraudsters. What they are up to, I don’t know, but I get around five a day, if I’m sitting by my computer writing.

I usually have my television switched to Radio 5 or something like the News on BBC1, when they call and I find it strange that if I don’t switch the sound on the television off, by the time I get the phone to my ear, the line is dead.

The fraudster seems to hear the noise of the talking and feels they may be wasting their time.

But it never seems to fail!

It reminds me of a story told me by a farmer, who was breeding free-range organic chickens for one of the major supermarket groups.

The local foxes were a problem, until someone suggested that he wire an old radio up to a car battery and put it on Radio 5 all night at a lowish level. It appeared the calm voices of Doton Adebayo and Rhod Sharp convinced the foxes there were people around and he was losing fewer chickens to the foxes.

 

May 11, 2018 Posted by | World | , , , , , | 3 Comments

Sibling Wars

I agree with the princess in this story on the BBC, which is entitled Genetically-modified crops have benefits – Princess Anne.

But I doubt her elder brother does!

March 22, 2017 Posted by | Food, World | , , | Leave a comment