References

Scottish tomato production revitalised

 Until the 1980’s Scotland had a thriving tomato industry in the Clyde Valley region, near Lanark. These relatively small family businesses supplied the local Scottish markets in nearby Glasgow and Edinburgh, but the buying power of supermarkets, increasing fuel prices and cheap competition from Europe gradually undermined their viability and one by one they were either forced to grow another crop or cease trading. Eventually, none were left.

So, some might be surprised to learn that tomatoes are in production in Scotland again, but this time with a business plan that is set to change the old economics.  

Jim Shanks, whose family have been dairy farmers at Standhill Farm near Hawick in the Scottish Borders for over 60 years, started to look at renewable energy more than 4 years ago. The first step was to install an Anaerobic Digestion plant to recycle farm waste and create biogas to fuel a CHP system. Initially, the CHP was used to generate all the electrical power for the dairy operation, export surplus power to the grid and use the heat to dry woodchip for biomass, but Jim also felt that building a glasshouse heated by biomass would complete the renewable energy cycle.  

After much research, Jim chose turnkey specialist Certhon and their UK partners CMW Horticulture to design and build the project. ‘Certhon and CMW had a different approach than other potential suppliers – from the outset, they were keen to focus on the financial viability of the project and gave me great confidence that it could work out’ says Jim. That was particularly important because the technical requirements of successful modern tomato production were completely new ground for him.  

Certhon and CMW supplied and installed everything required for a long season tomato crop: Glasshouse, heating, screens, irrigation and water treatment, ready for planting in January 2017.  

The completed 16,000 m2 glasshouse with 6m gutter height and diffused glass consists of two compartments and a work area/irrigation room controlled by a Priva Connext computer. Heating is provided by two RHI compliant 1MW Herz biomass boilers connected to two 121 m3 horizontal heat storage tanks. Notwithstanding the revenue generated by the boilers through the RHI, energy saving is a high priority, so Svensson 1347 FR overhead screens and Bonar Phormium Phormitex Crystal V gable screens have been installed.  

The focus on sustainability at Standhill Farm doesn’t end with heating and electrical energy, as rainwater collected from the greenhouse roof and stored in two 1,100 m3 water tanks is the main water source, with a further two 90 m3 tanks to store water from the farm’s borehole.  

The crop is grown in Cultilene rockwool on Formflex hanging gutters with Priva air tubes for air circulation through the crop underneath, and all the drain water is collected, recycled and sterilised by a Priva C-Line Vialux UV system. ‘The Vialux has been crucial, as it massively reduces the volume of water needed’ says manager Mark Wilkinson. We aim for 28-30% drain and by using the Vialux we always have sufficient for the crop, we know it’s safe to re-use, and at the same time our fertiliser cost is substantially reduced. The nutrient solution is precisely controlled by a Priva Nutriflex.

Production focusses on premium varieties Sweetelle and Annamay, distributed locally through Scotty Brand and also exported to Europe.


 
 
 

 

 


More growers opt to replace old screens

Save even more energy and transmit more light

- Abbey View Nurseries, Waltham Abbey

Like most leading salad growers, Abbey View installed their screens some time ago. After years of constant use, they had become very tired but, like many growers, nursery manager Alan Richardson hesitated for a while before deciding that it was time to renew the system. 'Actually, this should have been done earlier' says Alan, 'but agreeing on the best time to replace an existing asset is never easy'. However, once the decision was made, everything went very smoothly. 'The CMW crew were the best screen contractors we've ever had on site'.
Modern equipment and experienced fitters make for a very efficient refurbishment process. Using a new monofil deployment machine, over 16,000 square metres of monofil were replaced in only 3 days!

 - Ravensworth Nurseries, N.Yorkshire

Glasshouses come in all shapes and sizes, and by no means all have tall stanchions, wide bays and unfettered access.
Ravensworth Nurseries grow a mixture of pot and bedding, mostly on benches, and replacing old screens over a growing crop presented several challenges - not only to carry out the work in a timely manner but also to avoid disruption to day to day operations on the nursery and above all to ensure no damage to the crop.

Co-owner Fiona Dean opted for the Ridder flame retardant material RLD 60FR which provides 60% shade under direct sunlight, 65% shade under diffused light and 48% energy saving. She says 'The refit went very well with very little disruption to our normal operation and no crop damage at all. The new screen is a big improvement on what we had before in every respect.'

 

Completed screen refurbishments

Abbey View Nurseries 16,600 sq metres Luxous 1347 FR
Ravensworth Nurseries 20,700 sq metres Ridder RLD 60 FR
Mill Nurseries 13,500 sq metres XLS10 Revolux
Schembri 11,800 sq metres Luxous 1347 FR
R&L Holt 30,600 sq metres Ridder RES 10 FR
Valley Grown Salads 16,700 sq metres SLS10 Ultra Plus
Early Ornamentals 3,900 sq metres Harmony 5220 FR
Anchor Nurseries 16,250 sq metres SLS 10 Ultra Plus
Anchor Nurseries 6,600 sq metres XLS 10 Revolux FR
Anchor Nurseries 18,600 sq metres Luxous 1347 FR

 

 


Priva management tool is a hit at Cornerways

‘You can’t manage what you can’t measure’ is one of those truisms frequently preached by management gurus. That’s actually very true, but once you get beyond a certain scale, measuring, especially measuring what work people do, can become a very onerous task. And, having measured and collated all the data you need, how do you filter out the bits of information you actually need from the enormous amount of data that’s been gathered?


Year Round production a success at Sandylands

When R&L Holt decided to modernise the Sandylands site where Rick started the family business from scratch over 35 years ago, there were no half measures. Three blocks of old glass, staff facilities and the boiler house were demolished to make way for a 1.13 MW Combined Heat and Power unit, modern staff facilities, offices and a state of the art 8,300 m2 structure fitted with diffused glass and lighting for year round production, all designed and built by turnkey specialists Certhon, who had previously completed greenfield projects for the Holts at their Hornsfield and Springhill sites.


New management information system for Cornerways

When you have 18 hectares of glass and more than 250 pickers and crop workers, keeping up to date with how the whole enterprise is performing in real time is a tremendous challenge.

The management at Cornerways Nursery decided that they needed to be able to gather accurate management information quickly and reliably, so they weighed up all the things that a modern management information system needed to do for them.


Red Roofs Nursery

Turnkey project for Chris Durnford completed on time and on budget

Increasing demand for quality UK grown tomatoes gave Chris Durnford of Red Roofs Nursery in East Yorkshire the confidence to invest in a 700 sq m packhouse and 16,660 sq m of fully fitted new glass with 6 metre posts. The project is the result of close co-operation between Certhon, who took care of the glasshouse and heating, and CMW who supplied and installed all the equipment and managed the whole project.


R & L Holt - Springhill Nurseries

Despite advances in both overhead and side screens, greenhouses have always been susceptible to having a 'cold side'. Cold air above an overhead screen will invariably collect at one gable end and this can result in a lower temperature in the growing area below the screen at the affected end. Uneven temperatures can have a serious impact both on the crop itself and on energy consumption.


MT Mitchell, Castleton Farm

Using VPD (Vapour Pressure Deficit) for improved irrigation control

Originally dairy farmers, the Mitchell family bought Castleton farm in 1992, part of which was a soft fruit crop of 15 acres. In 1999, they decided to stop dairying and increased their soft fruit production.


Eric Wall Ltd

Eric Wall and Hugh Stevenson bought Pollards Nursery back in 1977, in those days with just 2½ acres of existing widespan glass. Formerly a rose unit, the nursery was converted to specialise in tomatoes. Now, 35 years later, the nursery has grown to 28 acres on the original site in Barnham, West Sussex.


Les Halman Nurseries Ltd

The Halman family has a long history in the nursery business, going right back to 1887 when Les's grandparents began market gardening. There have naturally been many changes since, but the family's proud heritage still continues with Les's son Stuart having joined the business in 1995.


Gee Vee Enterprises

Family traditions are strong in the Lea Valley, where you’ll come across more entrepreneurial young growers than any other area in the UK. Gee Vee Enterprises are a case in point. Founded by Gaetano and Vincenzina Cappalonga in 1997, initially as an AYR chrysanthemum unit, Netherhall Nursery switched to peppers in 1999 and were joined in the business by their forward looking son John in 2006.John has been the driving force behind an investment of £1.5 M in new glass, with integrated packhouse and office.


Coletta & Tyson

Coletta & Tyson, one of Europe’s largest specialist independent producers of ornamental plants, is a vast operation by any standards – with nurseries on several sites in East Yorkshire covering 162 Ha in total, producing 100 Million plants a year.



Pipe welding solves water main problem

Fusion welding HDPE pipe

Standard practice in UK horticulture has always been to joint PVC pipes with unions or glued joints. If the pipes are underground and a joint fails, there will be considerable disruption, inconvenience and potentially crop loss. Using HDPE (High Density Poly Ethylene) pipe rather than PVC introduces the possibility of creating extra strong joints by welding two ends together under heat and pressure to form a continuous pipe.



Kevin Hobson reduces his spraying costs by 66%

Crop spraying is one of the most critical, expensive and time consuming processes for any horticultural business. The CMW spray robot not only ensures accurate, uniform application of the pesticide, but considerably speeds up the process. Grower Kevin Hobson of East End Nurseries comments on his experience with the spray robot in the PDF below.


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