The Co-op has launched a three-year project to monitor and manage the environmental impact of its farmers.
The Co-op Enviro-Map programme, launched yesterday (23 June) at the Royal Highland Show, will see farmers from the Co-op’s six produce sectors complete online carbon footprint assessments and biodiversity surveys.
The Co-op is collaborating with Alltech E-CO2 on the programme, which has been debuted with the Co-op’s dairy farmer group.
Later this year, the Enviro-Map programme will be extended to farmers in the Co-op’s beef and lamb groups, and in early 2017, to its chicken, egg, and pork farmer groups.
Data on inputs including livestock, produce, feed, fertiliser, fuel, electricity and health will be processed to generate individual farm reports.
These reports will allow farmers to benchmark the performance of their business against others and take steps to improve their efficiency and reduce the environmental impact of their farming practices.
“Basically, we are trying to reduce the effect these six farmer groups have on the environment,” Ciara Gorst, senior agricultural manager at the Co-op, told Farmers Weekly.
“All those farms that undertake the online carbon footprint assessment will receive a report, which will include some recommendations based on their efficiency.
“What they can do then is benchmark against farmers in their region and the wider group.
“Once we are able to measure, we’re able to manage – rather than changes being driven by targets,” she said.
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The Co-op and Alltech E-CO2 are working with the Carbon Trust to get the data certified and provide the Co-op and its farmers with further third-party accreditation.
“This is an opportunity for us to showcase to our customers our good environmental practices,” Mrs Gorst said.
So far, she added, feedback from dairy farmers participating has been positive.
“We think they’re quite excited to be involved. It is quite new to them. We have really worked with them to give them the time to complete it,” said Mrs Gorst.
“Once they get the report and see that it is individual to them, they will see how they are performing and look at how they can improve.”