UKCEH is delighted to be working with Land App and Sainsbury’s on an industry-leading partnership giving farmers and suppliers in Great Britain greater abilities to enhance their positive impact on biodiversity, soil health, river pollution and climate.
By using Sainsbury’s vast network of suppliers to make genuine improvements to the environment where products are grown, the partnership will set new industry standards.
The partnership utilises Land App’s digital mapping tool and UKCEH’S existing E-Planner data, enabling farmers to choose the best place for activities such as planting trees, creating pollinator-friendly areas, river protection and wild-bird food.
UKCEH’s ‘E-Planner’ data supports and streamlines decision-making by presenting complex environmental data in an easy-to-interpret way, meaning farmers can maximise the benefit for nature, and the farm as a whole. While E-Planner does work as a stand-alone tool, bringing data together with digital platforms like the Land App and agri-food suppliers like Sainsbury’s establishes a pioneering approach to the way suppliers and growers can work together to understand the environmental impact of the food that they produce.
Dr John Redhead, Spatial Ecologist, UK Centre for Ecology & Hydrology, said: “It’s really important for us as environmental scientists to find ways to ensure that our research can make a difference on the ground. We designed E-Planner to place our research data in the hands of farmers, in a way that helps them find opportunities to manage their land in more environmentally sustainable ways.
"It’s been great to work with Sainsbury’s, with its broad range of suppliers, and with the Land App’s widely used digital mapping tool, to widen the reach of E-Planner and help integrate it into farm decision-making.”
As policy makers and land managers start to think in broader terms of nature recovery at the landscape scale - and government agri-environment schemes promoting soil health and biodiversity begin - the drive to improve Scope 3 emissions is all the more pressing.
There is an ever greater need to understand the environmental impact from the individual field level in specific farms, to right across the landscape. Improving biodiversity, soil carbon and habitat connectivity are all essential stages in transitioning to regenerative and sustainable land use. By creating access to a high-quality digital platform for the land that Sainsbury’s influences, not only can live habitat data be used to assess impact, but the pathway to a sustainable future can be precisely mapped out.
On announcing the partnership, Dan Geerah, Head of Innovation at Land App said: “The demand for balancing food production with environmental recovery has never been so pressing. Land App is delighted to partner with Sainsbury’s to help drive environmental regeneration across our landscapes, whilst promoting sustainable food production.”
Gavin Hodgson, Director of Agriculture, Horticulture & Fisheries at Sainsbury’s, said: “The environment is extremely important to Sainsbury’s and our customers, as a business we depend on nature and want to ensure that through our direct operations and wider supply chains we are doing everything we can to protect and preserve it. By collaborating with industry experts and combining it with the wealth of knowledge that our farmers have, together we can play a part in making our food better for the planet.”
Innovative solutions such as these offer a means of addressing potential tensions between farming and nature. By combining Land App with biodiversity expertise at UKCEH, farmers are able to receive suggestions on how to balance their land-use between food production and creating habitats.
The ongoing development of UKCEH’s E-Planner forms part of AgZero+, as part of its remit to translate research outputs into tools to facilitate change on the ground.
AgZero+ is an ambitious five-year research programme supporting the UK’s transition towards domestic food production that is sustainable, carbon-neutral and has a positive effect on nature. It is funded by the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) under research programme NE/W005050/1 AgZero+: Towards sustainable, climate-neutral farming. AgZero+ is an initiative jointly supported by NERC and the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC), led by UKCEH and working in partnership with Rothamsted Research, the British Geological Survey, Plymouth Marine Laboratory, and the National Centre for Earth Observation.