Morrisons tries net-zero new model farms

Morrisons has pledged to be the first supermarket to be completely supplied by net-zero carbon British farms by 2030, working with its 3,000 farmers and growers to produce net-zero carbon meat, poultry, fruit and vegetables.

The chain is British farming’s biggest supermarket customer, and as UK agriculture currently accounts for 10 per cent of all UK greenhouse gas emissions, the impact of the supermarket opting for zero emissions could be substantial.

Morrisons will start working with a selection of meat and produce farmers to create net-zero carbon farm ‘models’ and will look at the emissions picture through the whole lifecycle of farm produce - from germination to leaving the farmgate for a Morrisons store. Once a workable blueprint has been established, the models will then be shared with all Morrisons farmers, so that all food can be produced in this net-zero carbon way.

The farm models will look at reducing carbon via: rearing different animal breeds; using low food-mile feedstuffs; using renewable energy and low emission housing; and, cutting down fuel and fertiliser use. They will also look to offset carbon emissions via: planting grassland and clover; restoring peatland, improving soil health; planting trees; and, seeding hedgerows.

Within agriculture, beef farming is the most carbon intensive - generating 45 per cent of carbon emissions for only five per cent of products sold. Nearly half of this is down to methane produced by cattle. So in addition, Morrisons will work with its beef farms to use smaller cattle breeds, pick low methane feeds, and look at methane reducing supplements (such as seaweed).

As part of the programme, Morrisons will also work with universities, vets, farming and countryside organisations and carbon experts. Morrisons will partner with the NFU to pool farmer knowledge, work with Natural England on planting and water use, and use industry experts to measure and evaluate data. Morrisons will also work with Harper Adams University, which specialises in agriculture and environmental subjects to set up the world’s first School of Sustainable Farming to offer farming training.

Morrisons net-zero carbon UK agriculture target forms part of its plan to become net-zero for emissions by 2040, in line with Paris.

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