Food manufacturers launch regenerative agriculture projects

By Gwen Ridler

- Last updated on GMT

Two new regenerative farming programmes have been launched by food manufacturers. Image: Getty, Martin Barraud
Two new regenerative farming programmes have been launched by food manufacturers. Image: Getty, Martin Barraud

Related tags Agriculture

Innocent Drinks has launched a £1m fund to support regenerative agriculture, as Nestlé and Diageo partner to protect and restore the countryside in Yorkshire.

New sustainable farming fund from Innocent

Drinks firm Innocent is making £1m in grants available through its Farmer Innovation Fund to its ingredient suppliers for projects that support the transition to low carbon farming, higher biodiversity and fairer farming practices.

It described its investment in sustainable farming as the key to achieving a 50% reduction in its scope 3 emissions by 2030.

Grants of between £20,000-£500,000 will be made available to all Innocent ingredient suppliers, with a special focus on those providing priority fruits such as apples and oranges. Grants of more than £500,000 would be considered on a case-by-case basis.

Nick Canney, chief executive of innocent Drinks, said: “We’re on a mission to help people live well through the delicious goodness of fruit and veg, working to ensure everyone gets enough today and in the future. That’s why we are proud to play a part in helping our suppliers secure fruit and veg for the long term.

“We see the Farmer Innovation Fund as a great opportunity to weave a strong connection from our drinkers to our farmers by working with our suppliers to safeguard the future supply of fruit and vegetables. So, they can continue to play their role in delivering sustainable and healthy diets.”

Longer term, the fund will also cover grants for advocacy, education and collaboration beyond innocent’s supply chains and innocent will share its learnings throughout the process to accelerate the transition to sustainable farming within the wider sector. 

Regenerative Agriculture Director, SAI Platform and chair of the External Advisory Board for the Farmer Innovation Fund Dominik Klauser, added: “We need to see more investment in supporting farmers on their journey towards de-risking and embracing regenerative farming practices. It’s great to see businesses like innocent drinks committing to support the farmers within their supply chain to make this transition.”

Previous grant winners include Döhler, who are using the fund to map out how to reduce the carbon footprint in their apple and mango supply chains, and Agrarias Manchegas, who are using the fund to optimise farm inputs via data management and precision agriculture technology. 

Nestle Purina and Diageo partner on regenerative agriculture project

Meanwhile, the Landscape Enterprise Networks (LENs) programme has completed its first trading round involving Diageo, Nestlé Purina, and farmers in Yorkshire.

Spearheaded by sustainability consultancy 3Keel, the programme has seen Nestlé Purina and Diageo partner to invest in measures across almost 700 hectares of arable land in Selby, Thirsk, Vale of York and Goole areas of the county.

The investment will support growers to introduce a wide range of regenerative agricultural practices, including reduced cultivation systems, improving nutrient use efficiency and introducing grazing livestock into the rotation.

Alan Sargent, 3Keel’s lead on the project, said: “Yorkshire is a great example of how an engaged network of local experts and stakeholders can work together. Yorkshire Water is supportive of the programme, while the York and North Yorkshire Combined Authority is also helping to loop in local initiatives and organisations to increase the scope and impact of LENs activities.”

While most measures will be implemented by participating farmers over 2024, some practices will extend over a five-year period. The ecological impact of these measures will also be monitored, through the LENs Monitoring, Reporting and Verification programme, alongside their implementation.

A second round of funding is now in preparation, which will expand the network with new partners, farmers and hectares of measures, and is expected to be contracted in summer 2024.

The Landscape Enterprise Networks programme

 The full list of measures in this inaugural trade are:

  • Using nitrogen-fixing crops (legumes) in arable rotations
  • Adopting reduced/no till cultivation systems
  • Using inhibitors with fertiliser to prevent nitrogen loss
  • Integrating organic manure into fertiliser regimes
  • Introducing grazing livestock into arable rotations to promote holistic mixed-farming systems
  • Establishing cover crops in the autumn to prevent nitrogen and water run off
  • Spring cropping over multiple years to allow time in the calendar for over-wintered cover crops

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