KP Snacks, whose brands include McCoy’s and Tyrrells, have launched the next step in their Sustainable Futures programme as part of their partnership with agricultural sustainability experts, Future Food Solutions, which aims to scale up the adoption of regenerative farming practices. Ahead of World Soil Day on 5th December, this partnership will raise awareness of the importance of maintaining healthy soil systems.

Through the Sustainable Futures programme, KP Snacks is working with a number of the company’s potato growers from across the country to grow cover crops between food crops in the farm rotation to sequester atmospheric CO2 and improve soil health by increasing soil organic matter (SOM). The growers taking part in the programme will receive soil analysis of selected fields, and guided by the results, Sustainable Futures will provide each grower with a bespoke plan which focuses on improving soil health and increasing soil carbon sequestration.

The project also has two trial ’pilot’ farms where Sustainable Futures will partner with the growers to demonstrate additional regenerative practices, as well as collecting vital data to share with the whole supply chain.

The agricultural production of raw materials is currently responsible for a significant portion of KP Snacks’ carbon footprint across its value chain, with this initiative specifically aimed at reducing the greenhouse gas emissions of its supply chain, whilst improving soil health and supporting the development of more resilient farming operations.

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.”

The project will provide KP growers a total of 400 acres of cover crop seed and advice will be provided during the growing season. The cover crops will be 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 will receive an individual dashboard which records how this cover crop addition within their rotation is positively assisting to improve soil health.

This information will then 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.

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.”

Mr Cann said: “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.”