"Looks like the weather's turning more autumnal..." says Oli Pascall, walking back to his truck in a farmyard at Yalding.
Casting an eye to the greying sky above the barn, he could be any other farmer from centuries past; only he's not any other farmer, this is not any other farm, and that's not even a barn - it's a £10 million power plant, and it's the reason why he's slightly less bothered about the onset of autumn than his predecessors might have been.
While traditionally, the end of summer would bring the growing season to an end, Clock House Farm's river source heat pump allows Oli and his team to heat their polyhouses with renewable energy and keep growing soft fruit – and their business – into December.
The largest of its kind in Europe, and maybe even the world, to be used in fruit growing, the system extracts heat from the nearby River Medway and sends it up to a plant room where six heat pumps increase the temperature of a separate water system to 45 degrees and pump it up to the farm's polyhouses. The river water is sent straight back into the river, four degrees colder.
"We had to do thermal modeling of the river and of the discharge water," he explains. "There's quite constringent licensing with the environment agency, so they worked with us for about 12 months to make sure what we were doing was ok."
Read more at kentonline.co.uk