Solar Photovoltaic Panels reap rewards for Tenants

April 22, 2011

Over the last year, R.N.Padfield & Sons have researched the opportunities provided in renewable energy generation.  Not only was there the desire to reduce dependence on bought in energy, but also to demonstrate commitment to sustainable, green forms of energy and lowering the carbon footprint of the farm and office units.  Last April saw the introduction of Feed-in Tariffs (FIT) which offered a guaranteed price for electricity generated from renewable sources.  This was modelled on a similar scheme in Germany and we had been impressed with the use of solar panels farmers had made during a visit to Southern Germany two years ago.

We have now been able to install solar photovoltaic systems providing ‘free’ electricity to three of our office units.  Needless to say the tenants have been very supportive of the project  and should save between 25-40% on their current electricity costs.

solar panels - offices to rent

Solar array

The project is currently featured in Savills ‘Aspects of Land’ publication and the article can be read here: aspect of land.

Does Direct Drilling Pay?

January 2, 2011

If there was only one correct way to establish wheat, every arable grower would do the same thing.  As it is, each farmer has adapted the cultivation and drilling equipment and techniques used to suit the soil, climate and topography of the individual farm.

When we set off down the direct drill route (a radical change from ploughing and following with a powerharrow / drill combination) there was always the nagging doubt or fear of exchanging a proven system to one that may not work.  Those involved in agriculture in the 1970’s will remember the failed experiments with direct drilling.

Using the Christmas period to sit down and work out the costs for the last harvest (2010) has proved to be a useful experience if not necessarily giving the results we wanted.  On the positive side the Oil Seed Rape, Linseed and Winter Beans established well using the Claydon Direct Drill and we have no intention of using any other method.  Whilst Winter Linseed was a novel crop to us, the OSR and Beans yielded well and were above the 5 year average.  The wheat is more of a dilemma.

We compared the yield of 6 fields,  3 established via the direct drill and 3 using the traditional plough and powerharrow / combination route all growing a veriety called “Alchemy”.  This is not a scientific experiment, more of a back of an envelope job with numerous variables not accounted for.  However the yield benefit of ploughing appears to be 0.35t / ha which at £150 / tonne is approximately £52 / ha  (£21 / acre).  However was there a cost saving in using the direct drill to establish the wheat crop?  In our small sample of 6 fields the answer is “no”.  It appears that the savings of making only one pass with the drill was largely swallowed up in making two more passes with the sprayer (plus spray) and one more pass with the slug pellet applicator (plus pellets).  The final costing incurred appear almost identical.

Where does this leave the direct drill when establishing wheat?  This Autumn we established all our wheat using the direct drill save one field.

Drilling Wheat in Rape Volunteers 21/9/10

Drilling Wheat in Rape Volunteers 21/9/10 (Left undrilled / Right drilled)

Wheat established by Claydon

The wheat crop on the 11/11/10

It was a kind year to drill this time but it appears the soil OM and structure are changing for the better and should mean the yields improve.  Mistakes such as using low seed rates have been corrected.  In other words, we are confident enough in the system to keep trying.  Any suggestions for the perfect system would be most welcome.

Office Unit for Rent

November 15, 2010

Popular Office Unit available to rent between Gloucester, Tewkesbury, Ledbury & Malvern

Unit 10, The Hawthorns has become available at The Hawthorns Rural Business Centre, located just 10 minutes from Gloucester city centre. Unit 10 was converted in 2004 from a redundant cattle handling shed.

Unit 10 is the most popular suite of offices at The Hawthorns. On more than one occasion a client has joined us and outgrown this ideal ‘starter unit’ and moved within The Hawthorns Business Centre to larger offices.

Office unit for rent

View of Unit 10

The Unit retains many of its original character such as oak beams yet provides excellent modern office facilities such as broadband and good lighting. The three rooms form a detached building in a prime location in the original courtyard of the farm with ample free parking available

Unit 10 Interior

Unit 10 Interior

Unit 10 consists of a kitchen, two bathrooms, reception/office area and two large office/meeting rooms to the left and right of the first room. The building has been completed to a high specification. The unit is approximately 622 sq ft and is a single storey building.

Interior of unit 10 - for rent

Meeting room in Unit 10

Those that base their working life at The Hawthorns have the benefit of the use of the conservation area which consists of a lake and parkland area where picnic tables are provided for a morning coffee break, alfresco lunch or afternoon tea. The Rural Business Centre provides a lovely working environment where the natural environment can be enjoyed and appreciated through the seasons.

Environment around office units

Environment around office units

The Hawthorns is easy to find, located close to the village of Staunton and is a quick 10 minutes from the centre of Tewkesbury and the market town of Ledbury. Our location benefits from easy access to both the M5 and M50.

Making the Health and Safety Promise

September 21, 2010

The HSE has launched a further phase of its ‘Make the Promise’ campaign. It is a year since the campaign started which urges farmers to be more accident aware and commit to themselves, family and the farm ‘to come home safely at the end of the day.’

Work on the farm, as with all modern day industries, is working to pressured time scales which makes you vulnerable when working with machinery and livestock.  In addition, there are often weather deadlines if it is harvest or planting, or bad weather means you have to work harder to feed the livestock, move fallen trees and work in the dark.  Some jobs are urgent because livestock are ill or machinery needs fixing.

Hawthorn Training is involved in the campaign through providing training on a number of SHADs – Safety, Heath and Awareness Days which operate around the country.  Farmers are encouraged to attend these events by HSE and in a morning or an afternoon will visit 5- 8 scenarios at one site on different aspects of agriculture.  The 20 minute presentations, led by Lantra Instructors include pesticide handling, working at heights, working with livestock and working with machinery.  It is an excellent forum for giving agricultural workers a nudge to remind them that their industry remains dangerous and life threatening. In addition, best practice can be discussed and demonstrated.

HSE is encouraging farmers to make or re-affirm ‘your promise’ so 2010 can be a safer year on farms. All farm workers at The Hawthorns have ‘Made the promise to come home safe.’ We sent for and have received a copy of ‘How lives are lost on British farms.’ This is a booklet that summarises some of the fatal incidents that occurred on farms between 2007 and 2009 including:

‘A 62 year old farmer was run over by a combine harvester driven by a worker. The combine became stuck in wet ground. The worker reversed it to drier ground and it struck the farmer who was behind the machine. The farmer suffered multiple injuries and died later in hospital.’

‘A 37 year old worker was entangled on an unguarded PTO shaft that connected a tractor to a slurry tanker. His arms were severed and he was found lying next to the PTO shaft.’

HSE have created the ‘Promise Knot,’ this is a knot of baler twine and is a simple reminder of the need to keep safety at the fore front of every operation on the farm.  We have placed these knots around the farm to help remind the farm workers to think twice and to come home safe.

A knot is placed in the tractor to remind drivers to ensure they have good visibility and to keep people and vehicles safely apart.

Another knot can be found near a field gate to remind everyone working with or around cattle to work using safe methods. Familiarity with livestock can be dangerous as it can lead to complacency and unexpected events can occur which unsettle the animals. It is better to have proper facilities and follow safe working practices than to trust livestock. In addition, a knot is located on the cattle crush in the handling shed. We were weighing the cattle today, a routine task but the livestock in unfamiliar surroundings get on edge and lose their footing easily. Measures are in place to ensure that workers and livestock are kept apart as much as possible but the potential for incidents is high.

The door to the grain shed is another danger zone where a knot has been fixed. Confined spaces such as the grain sheds could result in asphyxiation from lack of oxygen, drowning in the grain or risk of fire. It is important to receive training, have another person at the door, the right equipment available and know the emergency procedures for working in this situation.

The final knot has been placed on the pillar drill in the workshop.

The Hawthorns Business Centre Welcome Marlowe Child & Family Services

August 22, 2010

We are delighted to report that Marlowe Child & Family Services have recently leased three office suites on the Hawthorns Business Centre in Staunton. Marlowe were formed in 1991 and over the past 18 years have worked with over 70 Social Services Departments, Health Authorities and Education Departments across the UK.  The organisation currently employs over 130 staff.

Marlowe considered several options in the Gloucester area but settled on the Hawthorns Business Centre as the location and specification were ideal for their current requirements and it also offered the potential to expand in the future.

Office Let

Marlow's new office

The Hawthorns Business Centre offered Marlowe the ideal solution to house their expansion as it is in close proximity to their existing base in Hartpury and the Estate offers high quality accommodation in an attractive working environment. The offices are situated in the original courtyard setting within the grounds of the 17th century Farmhouse in traditional stone buildings and are finished to a good specification. There is generous onsite parking and additional amenities such as the walled garden, Barbecue area and the Conservation area enabling occupiers to enjoy their lunch in a relaxing environment.

View to pinic area

View to pinic area

The letting to Marlowe was the third completed in the past 12 months and other tenants include Pulse CRM, Big Dug and the Barrington Lloyd Group. There are several offices available on site, all in period buildings of various sizes. The suites are available individually or there is potential for them to be connected to suit occupier’s requirements.

For further information on the current availability please contact the Estate office direct on 01452 840227.

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