Potato partners in the UK have secured major funding towards sustaining the future of the potato supply chain with their Net Zero Hectare project.
The collaborative research project secured 2.06 million pounds in funding from the Farming Innovation Programme, run by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs in cooperation with UK Research and Innovation. The aim is to sustainably change the way that potatoes are grown, stored and transported.
For the project, UK potato supplier Branston partners with B-hive Innovations, Crop Systems Ltd, The University of Lincoln, David Armstrong Farms and Arbikie Distillery. ‘It is important that the whole supply chain works together, rather than just companies doing their own thing’, explains Vidyanath (Vee) Gururajan, managing director of B-hive Innovations, tells us at PotatoEurope 2022 in Germany.
Together the companies investigate new methods to contribute towards a net zero carbon supply chain for potato crop. ‘Everybody is chasing net zero, but how to enable the combination of wanting to use less chemicals and be more sustainable, while getting more marketable yield? We do not know the answer to this question yet, so we need to try different things and make sure whether or not they work. That really is what this project is about’, says Gururajan.
Collaborating with the University of Lincoln, the project is trialling innovative new approaches to growing potatoes. The project aims to demonstrate how improved crop regimes, such as reduced use of tillage, affect soil composition and in turn crop resilience on a much large scale than previously tested. ‘Our research combines different domains. We are looking at a number of treatments and some different fertilizers in the field. We also look whether we can change something about the transportation of potatoes. We use the time of the three-year project to repeat and reproduce the research. It is much required, because sustainability is important but at what cost? Eventually the real growers in real fields participating in our project will be the judge to say whether or not the different things we try actually work’, the B-hive managing director concludes. Crop storage technology firm Crop Systems Ltd is also part of the consortium, to innovate store design to keep stored crops in optimum condition while minimising energy usage and environmental impact.
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