Frontier launches pilot to help farmers trade natural capital

Frontier Agriculture is trialling an environmental scheme that would enable farmers to be paid for adopting more sustainable farming practices as part of their supply agreements.

The initiative would help consumer businesses and their producers create more resilient supply chains through improvements to natural capital assets such as soil, water, farm biodiversity and carbon management.

See also: Free business advice through Defra resilience fund – last round

A small group of farmers in the north and north-east of England are taking part in Frontier’s trial, led by the company’s sustainable crop production team.

Jim Stotzka, lead on sustainability at Frontier, said: “The growers involved are obtaining funding as part of their supply chain agreement to increase the biodiversity on their farms or take on practices that result in carbon reduction and sequestration.

“This opens up additional revenue streams for them and helps to mitigate the risks often associated with adopting new or different practices, contributing to the longevity of their farm businesses as a whole.”

The growers supply feed to Cargill’s SeaFurther aquaculture programme, and the trial has allowed Frontier to demonstrate its plan with a view to creating a wider pilot.

Dave Robb, SeaFurther programme lead at Cargill, said: “The aim of the initiative is to support salmon and trout farmers to reduce their carbon footprint, but to do that we have to look at areas for improvement across the whole supply chain.

“One crucial area where we can reduce emissions is by ensuring the use of sustainably produced, nutritional feed.”

Much of the raw material required for aquaculture feed comes from cereals and oilseeds grown in the UK, with wheat gluten being a valuable high-protein ingredient.

“Through Frontier’s pilot, we’re able to reward feed growers directly as they adopt more sustainable production models, helping them to fund things like cover crops or changes to their soil management techniques,” Mr Robb added.

North Yorkshire farmer Alan Petch is involved in the pilot. He said: “For me, it made sense from a crop production perspective. Frontier’s scheme has been structured to address the environmental aspects, but it also considers the needs of the farmer and wider supply chain.

“As a grower this is really important because it’s much more than just attaching short-term incentives to specific land management activity – it keeps the bigger picture in mind.”

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This article forms part of Farmers Weekly’s Transition series, which looks at how farmers can make their businesses more financially and environmentally sustainable.

During the series we follow our group of 16 Transition Farmers through the challenges and opportunities as they seek to improve their farm businesses.

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