Yorkshire Water and Future Food Solutions have announced plans for a collaborative land-based programme that will see farmers, global food & drink brands, non-government organisations & supply chain partners working together to improve soil quality in river catchment areas around Yorkshire.
The utilities company, which serves 2.3 million households and 130,000 businesses, and the supply chain consulting group, Future Food Solutions, have jointly developed the programme, which is set to be the first of its kind in the UK.
With the involvement of leading edge delivery partners, the project will identify new ways to improve soil management that reduces erosion, maintains moisture content and increases agricultural productivity.
The programme, named ‘Sustainable Landscapes’, has commenced in three trial areas based around river catchments close to the villages of Shipton by Beningbrough, Elvington and Topcliffe.
A key focus of the programme is to collaboratively explore innovative ways to prevent farmland soil being lost to waterways.
During the last year, 23,000 tonnes of soil was extracted from water treatment facilities on the rivers Derwent and Ouse.
Retaining soil on the land where it is needed to grow food is one of the multiple ways the Sustainable Landscapes programme will aim to improve the sustainability of the UK’s food and drink industry.
Yorkshire Water has proven the value of collaborative-based projects, most recently working closely with communities and landowners to deliver the Governments Blanket Bog restoration strategy.
This initiative, led by Andrew Walker, Catchment Strategy Manager for Yorkshire Water, protects and enhances the Uplands from Exmoor to The Borders, whilst improving water quality for consumers in those areas.
Mr Walker said, “Developing a collaborative partnership with farmers that has a positive impact on lowland soil quality, delivers for both the environment and our own water management goals.
“If we can make agriculture more profitable and the supply chain more sustainable, whilst ensuring better quality water in the rivers and aquifers, farmers, businesses and consumers, as well as the environment, will all benefit, which is why we are supporting the Sustainable Landscapes programme.”
By improving the health of farmland soil through a combination of practical precision farming methods, proven cultivation techniques endorsed by soil scientists, and new pest and disease solutions, Sustainable Landscapes aims to pioneer a new approach to collaborative working in lowland areas.