These solar panels generate electricity to be used in some of the buildings in the farmyard – any excess is uploaded onto the national grid. One of the big consumers of this solar energy is the farm’s neighbourhood heat pump which draws heat from the ground. For this installation, which heats 3 properties, and has allowed us to scrap 3 oil boilers, every unit of electricity supplied to the pump produces three and a half to 4 units of heat. There are 3.5kms of pipe in the nearby cornfield supplying geothermal heat to the pump installation.
As the panels are sited off the ground, there is scope for plants to grow both in and around the compound. Generally, the vegetation is mowed annually to avoid shading the panels. Outside the compound, we mow once or twice annually, so there are wildflowers present, bringing in insect and mammal life as well as birds. Starlings are particularly active, nesting in the farmhouse and hunting for leatherjackets (the larvae of crane flies) in the grass, goldfinches like the seeds from the nearby alder hedge. At dusk, pipistrelle, soprano pipistrelle (a smaller species) and long eared bats hunt for insect prey.
Species such as red clover, field forget me not, perforate St John’s wort – just hold one of the leaves up to the light to see why this is called ‘perforated’, yarrow, common knapweed, and wild carrot are among the highlights here.
Please note the waymarks, there is no public right of way north through the farmyard. As there are small children and many pet cats living here, dogs need to be under strict control. THANK YOU.