East Yorkshire pea farmers set for global stage with pop-up rainforest project

A landmark pilot scheme involving East Yorkshire farmers growing "pop-up rainforests" between seasonal pea crops is set to showcased on a global stage.

Heads at Future Food Solutions, Yorkshire Water and Birds Eye

The Sustainable Landscapes Humber Project was launched last year with the aim of growing a specially-selected range of plant species capable of naturally capturing huge amounts of carbon dioxide, restoring soil organic matter and reducing flooding.

It features 40 local farmers who grow peas for frozen food giant Birds Eye in the Yorkshire Water catchment area.

Under the initiative, farmers grow cover crops in the window between harvesting peas and sowing their next food crop and also in the winter period before next year's peas are drilled.

Now the project is set to be featured in the United Nations Climate Change Conference being held in Glasgow in November.

James Hopwood, UK Agriculture Manager at Birds Eye, said early results from the pilot had been encouraging.

He said: "Birds Eye has worked with partner growers in the region to secure the planting of a variety of cover crops over 400 hectares.

"These crops were then sown to retain nutrients and protect the soil from the elements and capture carbon.

"In just 90 days, the cover crop programme had retained sufficient carbon to make 400 four-person UK families carbon neutral for a year.

"The programme generated sufficient benefit to offset the impact of cultivation, making ploughing a net zero carbon operation.

"We are now looking at how to repeat this project for other crops, such as wheat, and given all these benefits and the potential to scale this initiative across the world, we have submitted an application to jointly exhibit at COP26 later this year."

Guy Shelby, of Benningholme Grange Farm near Skirlaugh, is one of the pea farmers taking part in the project.

He said: "While this is just a pilot scheme, I think it demonstrates how farming can be part of a wider solution to climate change and biodiversity loss.

"It will help inform decision-makers what could be possible on a larger scale to reduce carbon emissions and create a more resilient and sustainable agricultural supply chain."

Source: Hull Live