'Green' greenhouse takes top honours

07 December 2021

Environment Climate change and renewables South West Net zero
Gregory Laycock-Hammond with Minette Batters and Dr Liam Fox MP

Gregory Laycock-Hammond with Minette Batters and North Somerset MP Dr Liam Fox

A Somerset student’s design for a new type of energy-efficient greenhouse that can be used to produce food all year round has won a major award from the National Farmers Union (NFU).

Gregory Laycock-Hammond, 9, from Yatton Junior School, was one of nine winners of the NFU’s Farmvention competition who exhibited ideas to aid climate-smart farming and food production at the House of Commons.

Children from the winning schools showed MPs how they utilised their Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) skills and knowledge to develop practical tools for sustainable farming.

The winning inventions were among hundreds of designs submitted by students for Farmvention, which teaches STEM subjects through the lens of agriculture and farming. This year the focus was on the aim for British farming to be net zero by 2040.

As well as attending the House of Commons event, the winning schools received £1,000 to spend on STEM or outdoor learning equipment.

Winning idea

Gregory’s winning idea was for a ‘four seasons’ greenhouse which combines the best elements of an indoor farm and a glasshouse whilst being affordable to buy and run.

He built a prototype greenhouse and tested it at various different sunlight and heat levels to see how much insulation and artificial light would be required to make it work efficiently all year round.

Gregory said: “Even with efficient LEDs it takes a lot of energy to light a dark space enough for plants to grow, so combining panels which can let in some light with insulation gives you a growing space that is cheap to run and heat.”

At the event, NFU President Minette Batters awarded the students a trophy to mark their achievement.

She said: “The ingenuity of the inventions showcased is truly exciting and I hope this experience has inspired children about the possibilities within both farming and STEM careers.

“For me, the best thing was seeing each project demonstrating a real understanding of the needs of farming and food production, as well as an impressive element of creativity, innovation, scientific knowledge and skill. It highlights what teachers who have used our resources already know – that farming is a fantastic way to teach STEM subjects in a practical and meaningful way.”

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