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Tesco to spearhead largest ever roll-out of low-carbon fertiliser

Tesco has announced it will partner with five of its largest field veg suppliers to launch the UK’s biggest ever commercial roll-out of low-carbon fertiliser.

The retailer said the roll-out was expected to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by up to 20% in the first year alone, and at no extra cost to farmers.

Eight fertiliser alternatives will be used across 1300 hectares in the 2023 growing season, with plans to scale up to a minimum of 4000 hectares in 2024 across veg suppliers.

The supermarket chain also plans to introduce the low carbon alternatives to other produce areas, including wheat and barley, as well as grasslands in beef, dairy and lamb supply chains.

According to Tesco, the first year of the roll-out will produce up to 70,000 tonnes of fresh produce, growing to 200,000 tonnes in 2024.

With chemical fertiliser costs rising by as much as 140% over the last year, low-carbon fertilisers could also be a cost-effective alternative for farmers struggling with shortages caused by the war in Ukraine.

Six of the eight fertiliser producers will be manufacturing their products in the UK from material including food waste, chicken litter, fire extinguisher waste and algae.

The UK currently imports around 60% of the fertiliser it needs, while domestic production has recently been hit by the closure of chemical fertiliser plants.

Tesco said its initiative aimed to accelerate uptake and create a roadmap to scaling low carbon alternatives.

Group quality director at Tesco, Sarah Bradbury, said: "Fertilisers are a large source of emissions in farming, but high prices and uncertainty have made it hard for farmers to take advantage of low-carbon alternatives.

"We hope that by working with our suppliers, our learnings from this roll-out of low carbon fertilisers can prove their potential to cut emissions and demonstrate what it would take to scale up production in the UK.

"It’s vital we keep costs manageable for farmers facing the most challenging market conditions in a generation and help our customers to eat in a way that’s good for planet and pocket.”


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