Kent-based Thanet Earth has competed construction of the sixth greenhouse on its site near Birchington. The new 7ha of glass means that the company will grow nearly a quarter of all the tomatoes grown in the UK, including its exclusive Piccolo variety.
The new block includes high pressure sodium grow lights and a combined heat and power unit. The company claims that in winter, the total of 31 ha of lit UK tomatoes will represent 75 per cent of UK lit production.
Thanet Earth managing director Des Kingsley said, “There’s an enormous uncertainty around the future for imported trade at the moment, and it’s widely acknowledged that the UK has to improve its self-sufficiency in food production. We’re working as hard as we can to add more top-quality home-grown volumes to the market but there’s still a huge gap between the demand for British tomatoes all year round and the available supply volumes.”
The company has also installed sodium grow lights in greenhouse that it is now switching to cucumber production for next year, saying it will be the UK’s first high-wire, light assisted cucumber crop. Overall Thanet Earth has planning permission to construct up to seven greenhouses as part of an estimated £135 million joint-venture with several partners including specialist growers.
Photo Caption: The new greenhouse features high pressure sodium grow lights.
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In a new series of satellite maps, the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE), have criticised protected vegetable grower Thanet Earth as the second worst light polluter in the country, second only to Tata Steel in Rotherham.
CPRE said in a statement, “Thanet Earth pledged to improve its greenhouse blinds in 2013, yet the light emitted is still severe. Its maximum brightness value is 84.98 nanowatts/cm2*sr, brighter than anywhere else in the South East, including London.”
However, the company defended its use of lighting and published a detailed explanation of the screens it uses on its website. “To achieve an economically-sustainable yield in the winter months then we have to supplement the natural light that the plants receive. Both of the tomato glasshouses at Thanet Earth are equipped with growlights which provide the plants with a light intensity that replicates the light levels of a typical spring day,” it explained. “In total, our two operational lit greenhouses have some 20,000 lights at work. Each is around 1000W. These lights are usually switched on by around midnight, and will stay on until the afternoon.”
Thanet Earth also pointed out that growlights are not used between April and September, depending on light levels, and that there are few dwellings in the immediate vicinity of the site. “By leaving the lights off until 11pm at the earliest, we aim to minimise any impact of the lights on our neighbours.”
Photo Caption: The growlights at Thanet Earth stay on until the afternoon
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A second group of students from Hadlow College in Kent have graduated from the Movement to Work initiative at Thanet Earth, which is run in conjunction with the College’s Apprenticeships, Business and Community section.
Five of the participants, all of whom were selected for the scheme from the local area by Job Centre Plus, were offered full-time roles with the company after graduation. During the four week course the students to spent time working in all operational areas of the Thanet Earth business, together with in-house HACCP food safety training and sessions on interview skills and preparation of a CV with tutors from Hadlow.
Lesley Gregson, Hadlow College’s Lecturer in Employability Skills, said: “It’s been hugely rewarding to see the academy members’ confidence increase as the course progresses and the end result is fantastic: five people given the boost they needed to enter employment with a highly reputable local business.” The first group of five students graduated from the scheme last December.
The post Thanet Earth hires staff following scheme with Hadlow College appeared first on Hort News from 23 March 2016.