James Dyson’s Interest In Farming Is Fascinating. Almost Futuristic, It’s Farming As Seen By A Strawberry Growing Engineer!

Prior to watching this video, I’ve never seen farming practice by an inventor and engineer of James Dyson’s calibre. Whereas I have reservations about some of his techniques I find his mindset and achievements quite astonishing.

Modern Strawberry Growing
Modern Strawberry Growing

At the end of this article is a YouTube video for you to watch. But if you are short of time the key points from the video are set out below.

Overview Of Modern Strawberry Growing & Farming with James Dyson

  • James Dyson sees farming as an extension of his passion for machinery, mechanics, science, and experimentation.
  • He considers farming to be another engineering project that fits well with everything else his company does.

“I see it as an extension of that. It is all about machinery, mechanics and science and experimenting and improving things.”

James Dyson

Dyson’s Farms And Land Improvements

  • Dyson bought the farms over ten years ago and currently owns 36,000 acres of land across Lincolnshire, Oxfordshire, Gloucestershire, and Somerset.
  • The company has made significant improvements to the land, including clearing ditches, restoring waterways, and draining fields.
  • The farms are now beautifully maintained and farmed at scale.

“We bought the farms over ten years ago… We’ve done a huge amount of improvement to the land… They are now beautifully maintained farms”

James Dyson

Sustainable Nature Initiatives And Biodiversity On Dyson Farms

  • Approximately 4,000 acres of Dyson’s land is dedicated to sustainable nature initiatives, promoting biodiversity by providing habitats for insects and bees.
  • 400 kilometers of hedges and 15 kilometers of dry stone walls have been built on Dyson farms to provide shelter for birds, insects, and small mammals.
  • The presence of margins, wildflowers, hedgerows, and proper woodland management contributes to a thriving biodiversity and improves soil quality.

“We’re farming at scale here… It’s wrong to suggest that you can’t have sustainable nature initiatives in harmony with good farming… We’re getting all that biodiversity and it’s worth it.”

James Dyson

Regenerating The Soil And The Role Of Animals

  • Regenerating the soil is an essential practice on Dyson farms, and one method used is incorporating sheep into the farming system.
  • Dyson farms have approximately 10,000 sheep and also raise cattle, as these animals contribute to soil fertility.
  • The presence of margins, wildflowers, hedges, walls, and proper woodland management further aids in soil regeneration and enhances food quality.

“It’s very important to regenerate the soil… We have about 10,000 sheep… These (cattle) put back goodness into the soil… It improves the quality of the soil and produces better tasting food.”

James Dyson

Anaerobic Digestion And Renewable Energy Generation

  • Dyson utilizes anaerobic digestion technology to generate renewable energy on their farms.
  • The anaerobic digester produces electricity for 10,000 homes and generates waste heat that is used for heating greenhouses and drying grain.
  • The process involves crops being fed into the digester, where they are digested and produce gas that is converted into electricity by generators.

“So here we are standing on top of the anaerobic digester, which generates electricity for 10,000 homes… It creates gas… That which houses three 24 cylinder generators that create electricity.”

James Dyson

Circular Farming And The Use Of Digestate

  • Dyson farms follow a circular farming approach, where crops are grown, deigestd anaerobically to produce gas and electricity, and then the digestate (fertiliser) is returned to the soil.
  • The digestate is used as fertiliser for the land, completing the cycle of agricultural production.

“So it’s sort of circular farming. We’re growing the crops, rotting them down, making gas, making electricity, making heat, and then putting the digestate back on the soil as fertiliser.”

James Dyson

Modern Strawberry Growing: Large-Scale Greenhouse Strawberry Production

  • Dyson farms have a 14-acre greenhouse dedicated to strawberry production.
  • The greenhouse is 450 meters long and houses 850 rows of strawberry plants.
  • Thanks to the use of heat and electricity from the anaerobic digester, Dyson is able to produce high-quality strawberries all year round through innovative farming techniques.

“The exciting thing about growing strawberries like this… is that we can produce wonderful strawberries all year round.”

James Dyson

Modern Strawberry Growing: Innovative Techniques For Protecting Strawberries

  • Dyson employs various techniques and machinery to protect strawberries without using chemicals.
  • Ultraviolet light is used to kill any mold that appears on the plants, and bug-dispensing robots are deployed to release beneficial insects that control pests.

“So we have a number of machines in order to avoid using chemicals or spray anything here.”

James Dyson

Modern Strawberry Growing: Automation In Strawberry Picking

  • Dyson utilizes robots that specialize in picking strawberries, with 16 robots currently in use on the farm.
  • These robots can pick up to 200,000 strawberries in a month and are equipped with cameras to evaluate the strawberries’ ripeness before harvesting.
  • Quote: “And now we’re going to meet one of the 16 robots that we have on-site that pick the strawberries… They’re looking at the strawberry, deciding if it’s a good one to pick, and then they’re snipping it with shears.”

“And now we’re going to meet one of the 16 robots that we have on-site that pick the strawberries… They’re looking at the strawberry, deciding if it’s a good one to pick, and then they’re snipping it with shears.”

James Dyson

Modern Strawberry Growing: Advantages Of Growing Strawberries With Renewable Energy

  • By utilising the heat and electricity generated from the anaerobic digester, Dyson can produce high-quality strawberries year-round.
  • Growing strawberries in this controlled environment reduces the reliance on imports and ensures self-sufficiency in food production.

“I think it’s very important that Britain grows its own food… So, as well as doing exotic things like strawberries, we also do barley, wheat, potatoes, sugar beets, peas.”

James Dyson

Continuous Improvement Through Technology And Experimentation

  • Dyson actively involves engineers and farmers to improve and develop technologies used on the farms.
  • The company encourages experimentation and innovation to make farming more sustainable and produce better-quality food.
  • Dyson is also interested in growing crops specifically for its products, but isn’t disclosing details at present.

“We have Dyson engineers coming up here who are working on ways of improving the technology we use on the farms… We also have farmers here, improving the technologies that we have.”

James Dyson

Future Crop Growth For Dyson Products

  • While specific crop details are undisclosed, Dyson expresses interest in growing crops, in the future, specifically for their products.
  • This suggests that the company aims to incorporate their own agricultural produce into the manufacturing of their appliances.

“I can’t tell you what they are and what they will be, but there will be a day when we do that.”

James Dyson
Tag: Modern Strawberry Growing
Image Attribution:
Ivar Leidus
CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

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