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"We all learnt a great deal about Farming - it helped the children to understand the idea of Farming more. A real hands on experience!"

By Reading School Year 4 teacher



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24 May 2022

    Bluebells at Rushall Farm I first met...


May 2019

Image of Schools at Rushall Farm

May 2019

10 May 2019

He sighed. I sighed, and we sipped our tea. “It isn’t right, they are cutting down the rain forests in Brazil.  That’s like the lung of the world.  Where are the International leaders to say we must stop destroying the world for our children?”  I was with Andreas Hempel who had come from Germany with his wife Val to Hillfoot Farm, at Chapel Row, 34 years ago. We had just shown 16 potential farmers from BCA around his Anaerobic Digester plant. Up to a few years ago his 120-hectare farm had been growing grass and maize to fatten 300 head of cattle, as well as wheat, barley and rye, and I do remember some lupins which went terribly wrong in our grain store on one occasion. Andreas has always been open and generous in the way he farms, so it wasn’t long after he arrived that he headed up a syndicate to share machinery and labour for silage making. His loud voice, physical strength and stature coupled with exclusively German built machinery made him a distinctive character in the Pang Valley.

In 2011 he had the foresight to invest nearly £1 million in a plant to produce electricity from his farm.  Today there are no cattle BUT just a giant concrete cow in the middle of his yard.  Each day he feeds it 8.5 tonnes of silage, being as careful to manage the nutritional balance as the best stock farmer.  He grows the same mix of crops which through photosynthesis convert the energy of the sun and the carbon dioxide in the air to carbohydrates.  These are all made into silage which is fed daily into a huge tank holding 2,000 cubic metres of liquid at 38/39 degrees C.  Microorganisms break down the digestate producing methane which is piped to a stationary engine driving a turbine.  Andreas produces enough electricity to power half the homes in Bucklebury (ie. 360 homes), and the 8.5 tonnes of spent digestate is pumped out daily into a storage tank and then spread on the land as fertiliser.  He also produces waste heat to look after 6 homes, has plans for some greenhouses and is hoping to convert his tractors to methane.

Bucklebury is well on the way to being carbon neutral long before 2050, and as for world leaders -there is one.  She is Swedish.  Her name is Greta Thunberg and she is 16 years old. We need to listen to what she says and take action.

John Bishop