The Yeo Valley Organic ReGeneration Project will facilitate the UK’s most comprehensive research into regenerative organic agriculture principles. The company will be able to share soil carbon sequestration ‘best practice’ with its 100+ supplying farmers and with the support of the farmer led social enterprise the Farm Carbon Toolkit (FCT), quantify its success by accurately measuring the increase in soil carbon over a defined period.
Farm Carbon Toolkit Technical Director Becky Willson said: “There is considerable scope for dairy farmers to be part of the climate solution through engaging in the soil health agenda. A key part of achieving change is measuring the current carbon stock and evaluating the impact of management in improving soil carbon sequestration. This is a project that Yeo Valley Organic are pioneering bringing together robust science and measurement on the carbon levels within the soil and farmer engagement and advice to identify improvements which will sequester additional carbon.
“Gathering data over the next 10 years will build up knowledge on how a transition to regenerative organic dairy farming can really benefit our soil, our planet, our farmers and our food production. We don’t have all the answers when it comes to soil carbon, but this is the start of vital work which explores the impact of soil health on our climate crisis and guides the actions of future farmers.”
Regenerative farming methods will drive a big part of the positive change at Yeo Valley Organic, with a number of future plans on the table including ambitions to create one of the UK’s largest areas of agroforestry (integrating trees, forage and the grazing of animals in a mutually beneficial way) in 600 acres of woodland in Somerset; and experiments with Biochar for onward use by growers and gardeners for a closed loop approach.
It also has several workstreams planned around composting, mob grazing, biodiverse planting and herbal leys, to increase the knowledge of regenerative organic principles and its effects on increasing carbon stocks in the soil.
With the commitment to a carbon reduction programme in 2022, there will also be continued work on solar energy projects, hydrogen lorries, electric vehicles and packaging. The brand was the first in the UK dairy industry to introduce a yogurt pot made from 100% recycled and recyclable material. Yeo Valley has also installed more than 3,300 solar panels at its Somerset distribution centre. The £1 million installation is the company’s third major solar project growing its renewable energy production, with a further £5 million being spent over the next five years.