World Soil Day: Implementing regenerative farming initiatives with Sustainable Futures and UK potato growers
In partnership with agricultural sustainability experts, Future Food Solutions, we are highlighting the next step in our Sustainable Futures programme to scale up the adoption of regenerative farming practices for potato growers. Ahead of World Soil Day on 5 December, this partnership raises awareness of the environmental importance of maintaining healthy soil systems.
The agricultural production of raw materials is currently responsible for a significant portion of KP Snacks’ carbon footprint. Sustainable Futures is specifically aimed at reducing the greenhouse gas emissions of our supply chain, whilst improving soil health and supporting the development of more resilient farming operations.
Working with potato growers across the country, the project encourages farmers to grow cover crops between food crops, which helps to sequester atmospheric CO2 and improve soil health by increasing soil organic matter (SOM). The growers taking part in the programme receive soil analyses of selected fields, the results of which help to create a bespoke plan for each grower to help boost SOM and fix more CO2 in the soil.
We have provided a total of 400 acres of cover crop seed and ongoing advice for growers is provided during the growing season. The cover crops are analysed in terms of above ground biomass, the amount of carbon sequestered, and the value of nutrients (nitrogen, potassium and phosphate) retained in the soil for use by future crops. Each grower receives an individual dashboard which records how adding this cover crop within their rotation is positively assisting soil health.
This information will be collated to provide real data of how growing cover crops helps individual growers improve soil health and sequester carbon, bringing improved sustainability and resilience to KP Snacks’ supply chain. The project also has two trial ‘pilot’ farms where we work with our growers to demonstrate further additional regenerative practices and collect vital additional data to share with the whole supply chain.
Steve Cann, Director of Future Food Solutions, said “Soil Organic Matter has fallen by around 50% in the last 60 years, reducing soil quality, nutrient concentration, and its ability to absorb carbon and hold water. However, implementing regenerative farming practices, such as the use of cover crops – dubbed pop-up rainforests by Sustainable Futures – enables soil to lock in quantities of carbon from the atmosphere, helping to reverse the effects of climate change, while at the same time dramatically improving soil health.”
Nicola Robinson, Head of Sustainability at KP Snacks, says: “We’re proud of the long term partnerships we have with our potato growers and the commitment these growers have made to agricultural sustainability over many years. We are excited to be launching this next phase of partnership with them, promoting the use of regenerative farming techniques as we all work towards a low carbon, resilient supply chain.”
Matt Parkin, Grower Sustainability Project Host who runs a 1000ac family farm in North Yorkshire growing cereal and processing potatoes, says: “I’ve been involved with KP’s sustainable farming initiative for the past couple of years specifically looking at both cover crop establishment and mix optimization for soil conditioning. Results from last year’s trial were encouraging and we saw clear soil improvements in the areas with cover crops and the establishment trial shows possible ways to reduce costs.
“This year I am planning a larger area to be joint funded between myself and KP, to hopefully showcase more options and facilitate more knowledge transfer to other farmers. I see this partnership as an important component in the ongoing work to improve the sustainability of our supply chain.”
Steve Cann added: “We estimate that we have already helped sequester thousands of tons of carbon working with a wide range of arable farmers growing cover crops. This new programme elevates the level of carbon reduction activity that we are carrying out with potato growers, and we’re delighted to be working with a company as innovative as KP Snacks. Looking to the future we see this work playing a bigger part in cropping decisions and farm management.”
The Sustainable Futures delivery program brings together global brands, food processors and farmers to deliver more resilient, sustainable food and drink to the UK and beyond. The program is cross-rotation and broadacre and emerged out of the Farexchange project which created more than 20 new, large scale collaborative supply chains, the majority of which are still in operation today. Sustainable Futures is delivered by Future Food Solutions, an environmental consultancy with more than 20 years’ experience working across all aspects of the supply chain.