Farm Assessment Report Version 1- November 2013
Working together for a sustainable future
Contents Introduction from Alan Wilson, Technical Manager Agronomy
Introduction from Professor Bill Davies, Lancaster University
Introduction from Kelly Shields, WFA Project Manager
Introduction to Muddy Boots, Technology Partner
How to interpret this report
Soil management & crop nutrition
Quality & harvesting
Final word from Professor Bill Davies
Welcome Introduction from Alan Wilson, Technical Manager Agronomy The Waitrose Farm Assessment (WFA) is an initiative that began in 2011 for suppliers to assess their growers against criteria defined by the Waitrose Agronomy Group. The initiative was launched following the publication of the Foresight Report on The Future of Food and Farming. This report focused on the challenges around sustainability, crop yields, population growth and world resources. Working with our suppliers, we are seeking to understand how growers engage with sustainability, the key challenges they face and how continuous improvement is being implemented, with a view to providing accurate data for research. The first version of the assessment was conducted on almost 1,000 farms around the world between 2011 and early 2013. The latest revision has been formulated by the Waitrose Agronomy Group and was launched in the second half of 2013. This new assessment covers the same key issues whilst capturing greater detail so that root causes can be further explored and better understood. The success of the WFA relies on the accuracy of the information collected. We provide a full training package for the WFA assessors that culminates in an independently verified examination to ensure that the highest levels of assessor competency are established and maintained. We are delighted with the results from the first version of the initiative although we are under no illusions; there is much work to be done if we are to truly assure ourselves that sustainability is being successfully addressed. Areas such as soil organic matter and biodiversity are complex and both face challenges from the
impact of intensive farming practices. To address such challenges, supermarkets must be pioneers in the promotion and implementation of sustainable business practices, driving large scale positive change throughout a global business network. Academic research also plays an important role in identifying opportunities for further development of sustainable business practices. Our fresh produce research strategy is focused around five pillars defined by the Waitrose Agronomy Group. These five pillars are soil, water, biodiversity, inputs and waste, which are also reflected in the categories of the WFA. We trade in 43 countries on farms ranging in size from one acre to 7,000 acres. We may take as much as 50% of a growerâ€™s output or as little as 1%. We are dependent on global economic, social and political stability, all of which exist in a constant state of flux. Above all, we recognise that we are all dependent on the ever more volatile climate, which in recent years has caused unparalleled food wastage. From the results of the Waitrose Farm Assessment, we have gained a clear idea of future challenges. To address these we are working closely with academic partners to identify development opportunities and long term solutions. New ideas need to be expounded, challenged and championed in order to move toward a sustainable future for food and farming. The Waitrose Farm Assessment is one manifestation of our collaborative approach to ensure more environmentally friendly and sustainable practices by Waitrose. The assessment process is not about one farm, one country or one supplier, itâ€™s about the whole world wide farming process, and its success lies with the combined effort of many people. I would like to thank all the growers who took part and the suppliers who have worked to bring this initiative to life. We hope this report is helpful to all who read it. Alan Wilson Technical Manager Agronomy
Farming for the future
Introduction from Professor Bill Davies CBE, Lancaster University This document describes the evolving Waitrose Farm Assessment, a project started in the wake of the publication of the Foresight Report on The Future of Food and Farming: challenges and choices for global sustainability. The Foresight Report highlighted the case for urgent action in the global food system, stressing that with a range of factors converging to affect the demand, production and distribution of food, there will be significant challenges to producers and suppliers over the next 20 to 40 years. Foresight stresses that the food demands of a growing world population will need to be met both as the climate continues to change and as resources such as water, energy and land are becoming increasingly scarce. It is clear that food systems must evolve to become more sustainable, whilst also adapting to climate change. We also need farming systems to contribute to climate change mitigation.
For its part, Waitrose is seeking to work with producers and suppliers to understand how the supply chain can engage with the sustainability agenda. What are the key challenges to be faced and how can best practice be defined and implemented? This challenge requires partnerships with researchers in relevant areas of study and the effectiveness of our evolving partnerships can be seen in the WFA report. As part of the Farm Assessment process, suppliers and growers assess themselves against a standard defined by a group of their peers â€“ the Waitrose Agronomy Group. It is important to stress that the Agronomy Group has defined the standard to which the supply chain aspires. Although it is early days for the WFA we believe that you will be impressed by the programme, its aims and objectives and the progress that we have already made towards introducing more sustainable practices into the supply chain.
Waitrose Farm Assessment Introduction from Kelly Shields, WFA Project Manager My primary role has been to organise the training and monitoring of the assessment process. The most exciting part for me has been to support the transition from a culture of audit to a culture of assessment. This means that Waitrose and its supply base are not only trying to understand the huge challenges facing growers but through data gathering are identifying the areas of focus for future research needs. For version 1 we trained over 100 assessors from both the supply base and Waitrose, a process that has been supported by the University of Lincoln’s Centre of Food Manufacturing. Muddy Boots has also played a critical role in the assessment process and has provided us with an information-gathering platform that is fit for use around the world. Progressing from version 1 to version 2 has enabled us to identify far more specific data gathering opportunities. Now we are embarking upon version 2 (2013-2015), we are hoping that the process will be as enthusiastically received as version 1. I hope you find the honesty and transparency of this report both innovative and interesting. If you are a grower, thank you so much for your contribution.
Introduction to Muddy Boots, Technology Partner Muddy Boots Software is delighted to have been chosen as the Waitrose technology partner for the delivery of the WFA to its growers. The information and results within this report have been generated from Muddy Boots’ Quickfire platform, a web based assessment management system that is used by Waitrose suppliers to aid the collection and dissemination of data in real time. Our aim is to make this task as easy and effortless as possible for everyone involved. We believe that constant development of our applications, especially in the area of mobile data capture, will continue to make data collection easier and quicker. Sharing the results of this initiative is paramount to improving the accessibility and visualisation of information. We hope that this will encourage growers and suppliers to develop increased awareness and help drive best practice improvements. The collaboration between Muddy Boots and Waitrose highlights the important role technology plays in connecting and aligning the supply chain to create the most value for Waitrose, suppliers, growers and customers and therefore build a stronger sustainable relationship for the benefit of all.
How to interpret this report This report examines a selection of results from the Waitrose Farm Assessment to identify areas for future development and further research, and to demonstrate best practice amongst suppliers and growers. The different categories of the WFA are examined in turn, with an articulation of available development opportunities and examples of best practice. In addition, the report examines the performance of each category, question by question, analysing the responses submitted. The results for each question show the percentage of green, amber and red responses which represent respectively best practice, work in progress and development opportunity.
Water Introduction Water is one of the five pillars of the Waitrose research agenda. Agriculture accounts for nearly 70% of our global water usage and because water supply is limited in most parts of the world, agricultural water use must be restricted, making it an extremely precious resource for our growers. When we are so dependent on a commodity for which there is no alternative, it is very much within our interest to ensure the long term sustainability of water use. Being smart about how, when and where water is applied has contributed to the substantial yields in agricultural production seen throughout the 20th century. The key challenges now lie in securing sustainable access and optimisation of water and further understanding the intrinsic relationship between irrigation and final product quality. We are honoured to have first-hand experience of the challenges of effective water use through our academic lead, Professor Bill Davies of Lancaster University, who has championed deficit irrigation in hot climates. Great emphasis has also been placed on this subject during Waitrose science days and related training events.
We recognise that the relationship between water availability and plant growth is both a complex and essential issue which is dependent on areas such as varietal innovation, soil organic matter and an understanding of the root zone. Overall we were pleased with the strong results here which reflect the great importance of the water category. However, it is clear that there is still some room for improvement in many countries and over the following pages we offer some examples of best practice in efficient and effective irrigation and water storage.
Water usage around the world Diverse challenges & changing patterns Within our grower base the challenges around water availability and use vary dramatically. For example, bananas are grown in Colombia where there is abundant rainfall. However, recent droughts have emphasised the need for efficient water application methods. In the Dominican Republic, flood irrigation is the common method of irrigation for bananas. While water may be accessible and plentiful at present, this does not mitigate the need to be smart about how itâ€™s used in the long term.
Therefore in both Colombia and the Dominican Republic attention is being paid to investment in sprinkler and trickle irrigation. At home in the UK we face the same challenges of access, storage and varying decisions on application methods. Although our rainfall is often sufficient to meet our needs, we are experiencing more longer drier periods. A potato grower using trickle irrigation would save 70% of water compared to using overhead application. However, this method represents a large investment in a climate of increasing unpredictability.
Water Water storage Simon Faulkner, Produce World Our climate is changing and as a country we are experiencing more extreme weather cycles for longer periods of time. The draw on water for domestic and industrial use is rising as the population increases and as a society, we have to be aware of the wider environmental and conservational impact of agricultural water use. Water storage represents a key focus for improvement, with on farm reservoirs fast becoming a vital component of successful water management. They can also be designed to be a positive source of biodiversity, while offering greater control on quality and volume of water. Needless to say reservoirs present their own challenges; financial investment is high, planning and location preparation takes time and resource and abstraction licencing can be challenging but is essential for ongoing water availability. Even when considering these obstacles, it is essential for the farm of the future to have secure water supplies. Historically growers pulled water from traditional water courses and although this can still be the case, more restrictions are being introduced, especially at times of peak requirement or during periods of sustained dry conditions. Therefore, growers are reviewing the capacity for extraction over short periods. The Produce World grower group recognises this trend and is actively looking at reservoirs and other large scale projects within the wider community to ensure water security and sustainability is maintained.
One of Waitroseâ€™s UK growers leading the way in providing better water security with a 44 million gallon reservoir in Norfolk.
Water Section Performance Is there a water optimisation programme in place?
Green = A comprehensive plan is in place and is already demonstrating improvements.
Is the farm sustainable in water e.g. peak flow, winter abstraction and on farm storage?
Amber = A basic plan is in place but there are no improvements yet. Red = There is little engagement in understanding water use. 76%
What does this mean? Having a water optimisation programme in place is central to good water management on the farm. The result shows that growers are paying careful attention to how water is applied and the yield that can be obtained. An optimisation programme should cover water sourcing, usage and equipment, all of which should be consistently monitored to ensure growers are making the best use of the water that they apply to their crops.
What does this mean? A positive response to this question means that there is clear documented evidence to show that all water use is regularly monitored and efforts are made to make water use sustainable for the environment where the farm is located. The strong result shows that growers have given serious consideration to the source of the water being accessed. Growers progressing in this area will have secured large amounts of stored water on farm or be in a position to have plentiful access.
Development opportunities We are aware that the climate around the world is changing. Growers are having to take into account that traditional water supplies may not be as reliable as they once were. Therefore we are working with growers and researchers to measure the water uptake of different crops through digital moisture identification systems and satellite imagery. We have been working for a long while with Lancaster University on benchmarking irrigation requirements for a specific crop / climate combination as a first step towards assessing efficiency. Deficit irrigation techniques may increase profitability by enhancing crop quality, particularly of fruit crops. In version 2, further information is being gathered to show the very best examples of the optimisation process.
Development opportunities During the course of this assessment we heard of many growers experiencing periods of drought and having to rethink their water requirements and storage capacity. In many countries, traditional methods of extraction from rivers are creating greater environmental concern and in the future we would expect to see all growers having the capacity to acquire and store water relative to the changing climate.
Water Is the quality of water monitored?
Are all drainage ditches and waterways effectively maintained?
What does this mean? The quality of water is an essential measurement both for food safety and efficiency of plant growth. Growers are using a risk assessment approach which relates to the risks and opportunities for the crops being grown. For example salad crops have specific requirements, needing a higher quality of water than some other crops. Development opportunities Although the overall performance is very strong in this category there is a need to pay further attention to holdings outside the European Union. Addressing all non-conformances will help ensure that plant growth is not compromised. Work by Lancaster University has shown that subsurface drip irrigation can minimise evaporative losses from the soil thereby increasing the efficiency of irrigation and prevent leaf / water contact which can constitute a threat to food safety.
What does this mean? Effective drainage is essential for plant growth and yield development. This question is particularly unique to climate and topography, exemplified by the fact that on flat land drainage may not be obvious. The result in this area was very good. Development opportunities We need to highlight how water moves on low lying surfaces and different soil types. Water run-off from farms is an increasing problem due to intensity of rainfall and all growers will want to avoid standing water on their farms. How soil structure is maintained, diffuse pollution and soil erosion are key issues here. The direction of tramlines and ploughing are critical to making improvements in this area.
Water Are water inputs measured and recorded by crop and by growing season?
Have measures been taken to prevent groundwater and watercourse contamination?
What does this mean? We were expecting this question to be challenging due to the requirement to record by crop. Due to climate change, growers in regions of abundant rainfall where irrigation is not currently used are now considering their future options for greater measurement and efficiency. In some countries however, water application is simply not being measured by crop. There is some room for improvement across many of the regions that provide us with fresh produce, however this only reflected a small percentage of the results. Development opportunities Understanding how water is applied by crop is an important development for all growers. We will be working with our suppliers and growers to show progress in use and yield efficiency.
What does this mean? Ensuring agriculture does not impact upon water courses is a key component of modern farming. There are many options available to growers ranging from minimising pesticide applications to creating grass buffer strips between the farmed land and field boundary. Development opportunities This problem is termed diffuse pollution and its profile has been raised by extreme weather and the lack of organic matter in soils. This is a complex issue which the Waitrose Agronomy Group has highlighted as a priority for further investigation.
Water Ferti-Irrigation Jim Flambert, Primafruit
Martinavarro has implemented an effective and innovative water management system with the objective to balance water and fertiliser inputs and consequently deliver fruit of the highest calibre and quality. A fertiirrigation system allows the grower to address these two areas that are essential to crop health and growth. Water quantity In order to ensure their trees receive an optimum supply of water, the irrigation process involves careful planning to calculate the quantity required by the crop. For this, meteorological stations are in use on farm to measure the crop evapotranspiration and subsequently determine the water requirement of the trees. A system of water control is in place and this process is aided by the use of advanced technology to measure the water soil percentage and tree activity. Watering times Working with Verdtech, humidity sensors and dendrometers have been installed at various points throughout the orchards. This equipment measures the expansion and contraction of the tree trunks to allow optimal watering times to be determined. Results This use of technology has not only improved irrigation practices but has also allowed the planning of optimum times to irrigate and feed the plant throughout the season. Using these technologies, the development of the fruit on the tree can be monitored in real time to ensure optimal use of water.
Soil management & crop nutrition Introduction Soil quality is just one of the fundamental areas for sustainable practice addressed by the Waitrose Farm Assessment. Todayâ€™s increased reliance on artificial fertilisers, heavy machinery, and the issue of climate change are linked to a reduction in soil quality and the subsequent reduction in biodiversity which poses a threat to the sustainability of farming. The drive behind this area of the assessment was to understand how growers are optimising artificial inputs as well as benefiting from organic manures. We recognise that there must be reductions in artificial inputs and clearer targeting for improved optimisation. The use of artificial inputs is both expensive and a potential source of carbon depleting chemicals. Furthermore, understanding and appreciating the differences between soil types and their respective strengths and weaknesses is crucial to good soil management and the wider sustainability agenda.
Organic matter matters The assessment results have shown us that soil organic matter is one of the most complex and misunderstood issues relating to soil management. Despite its importance, there has been a worrying reduction in the number of UK soil scientists in recent years, which has undoubtedly contributed negatively to this issue. New training initiatives are now in place and the British Society of Soil Science is providing a basis to remedy this lack of soil scientists. With their understanding of key soil issues, the Waitrose Agronomy Group can focus on soil quality as one of five research priorities. In addition to research and development we have undertaken to review how insecticides applied to soil impact on soil health. For example, Waitrose Agronomy Group is involved in a project to improve soil structure and crop yield by adding organic matter to soil.
â€œSoil organic matter matters since it underpins many aspects of soil health including structure, nutrient supply, water retention and is the fuel which drives biological activity.â€? Professor Karl Ritz, Cranfield University
Soil management & crop nutrition Section Performance Does the farm have a soil management plan?
Does the soil management plan improve the percentage of organic matter in the soil?
What does this mean? The variability of soils from heavy to almost pure sand means that soil management plans are vital. However, in situations where growing is purely hydroponic, it is not usual to find a soil plan which explains the number of reds in this category. Development opportunities The need for greater appreciation of soil health was one of the most striking opportunities found in this assessment. Consequently, this subject has a very high profile in the Waitrose Agronomy Groupâ€™s research agenda. Waitrose Agronomy Group is engaged with Professor Karl Ritz from Cranfield University and see this as a core area for research funding. We are also focusing on the promotion of soil biodiversity and improved quality and quantity of soil organic matter. We therefore have to ensure that this basic question has a much stronger set of answers in the future.
What does this mean? We recognise that the building of organic matter is not a quick fix. Organic farming methods show that organic matter is built over a long period of time with a sustained range of inputs. The question was deliberately included due to its importance in fertility and biodiversity building as we seek to reduce the level of artificial inputs. Development opportunities The Waitrose Agronomy Group in conjunction with Cranfield University and Rothamsted Research is identifying a range of simple solutions to improve the percentage of organic matter in soil. We have recognised that organic matter building and breakdown is a complex process involving bacteria, microbiological processes and insects. For example, earthworms are a key indicator of organic matter and soil health. We are investigating the relationship between these variables. However we recognise that these solutions will not completely solve the challenge of low organic matter in soil. The importance of other crops in a rotation cannot be over-stressed and in general terms the more diversity the better the chance of improved organic matter. Of all the questions in this assessment, we view this as the most important in setting the direction for the future of farming.
Soil management & crop nutrition Are measures in place to minimise soil compaction?
Are measures in place to minimise erosion?
What does this mean? The increasing use of heavy machinery on farms can cause soil compaction. In addition poor structure of soil can increase compaction further. From the responses we can see that nearly all growers realise this is an issue but are struggling to find long term solutions for soil compaction and resulting challenges, such as poor aeration and poor root growth. Development opportunities There are many opportunities to minimise compaction such as the fitting of caterpillar tyres to tractors, reducing tyre pressure, changes in vehicle movements and more precision trafficking to avoid coverage of large areas of field. We have highlighted these at our conferences and training sessions. More information can be found on the DEFRA website at https://www.gov.uk/soil-managementstandards-for-farmers
What does this mean? The responses for this question were similar to the previous question as growers are all aware of the importance of minimising erosion. Once again, soil structure can play a key part in this subject. Development opportunities This subject has been highlighted at conferences and training sessions with our suppliers. Choice of machinery, timings of cultivations and the building of organic matter are key considerations here as are field design and surface water strategies. Surface residue management is also an important area to control. More information can be found on the DEFRA website.
Soil management & crop nutrition Is there a nutrient management plan for each of your specific crops?
Is there a plan in place, where possible, for the reduction of artificial inputs for your specific crops?
What does this mean? Responses for this question were very strong with almost all growers having a crop specific nutrient management plan in place that is designed to meet individual crop needs. Nutrients are expensive and growers around the world will ensure they use them efficiently. This result demonstrates that crop requirements and offtake have been closely monitored allowing for nutrient levels to be optimised.
What does this mean? There is huge variability in the amount of artificial nutrient applied to a single crop. Success in minimising the use of artificial nutrient is related to a healthier soil composition and we are working with growers to minimise environmental impact in this key area. From the proportion of red and amber responses we can see that this is very much a work in progress and recognise that on some soils this is a very real challenge. Development opportunities Consistent with the answers for other questions, we are working with growers to reduce artificial inputs. The work at Rothamsted Research led by Professor Andy Whitmore has shown that for many crops a combination of both organic matter and artificial inputs obtains the best yields.
Soil management & crop nutrition Is justification for all artificial fertiliser inputs documented?
Are all operators trained in fertiliser applications?
What does this mean? This is a standard question for most crop assurance schemes so our expectation was 100% conformance. Although there are very few reds we will expect further improvement in this area in version 2 of the assessment.
What does this mean? This is another question for which we expected 100% conformance, meaning there must be a written training assessment to cover anybody directly and indirectly employed on the farm using fertilisers.
Development opportunities Over recent years we have been working with Lancaster University to investigate how rhizobacterial inoculation can be used to maintain nitrogen fixation and increase crop yields. Although this wonâ€™t be a solution for everyone, in some cases this may be an opportunity for the reduction in artificial fertilisers. This may be one component in the process of maximising nutrition from organic sources.
Development opportunities The large number of amber responses suggests this is a recording issue. We are working with our suppliers to highlight the importance of this issue and all assessors are reminded that this question needs to progress in the next assessment.
Soil management & crop nutrition â€œApproximately 5 tonnes of animal life Our soil management strategy
can live sustainably
Phillip Effingham, Pollybell Organic Farms
in 1 hectare of well
Sustainable soil is at the very heart of our organic vegetable production, providing a reservoir of biodiversity, water, nutrients and a medium by which the crops can establish the optimum root structures necessary to achieve good strong growth.
farmed soil.â€? Soil Association
There is a wide range of soil types on the farm ranging from black sand through black loams to strong clay loams. Our soil management strategy is designed to deliver good yields of organic quality produce across this range of soils ensuring sustainability for future generations. The strategy consists of six elements;
1. Land Rotation Programmes have been carefully constructed to match cropping needs, to support crop nutrition and to minimise pest and disease. A sound rotation also maintains the abundant levels of soil organisms which combined with increasing organic matter enables the peak performance of vegetable crops. 2. Sound planning of Crop Production Programmes to ensure the crop is matched to the soil type for the appropriate harvest period and to enable the necessary soil preparation activities to be carried out in a timely manner. 3. Management of soil structure ensures timeliness of key cultivation operations avoiding adverse weather conditions and having the correct equipment to address the needs of individual crops. 4. Continual analysis of the soil quality, soil health and nutrient status to monitor performance and variation within our crop production activities. Good monitoring enables appropriate actions to be taken to resolve issues in a well-planned manner. 5. Nutritional Management to maximise the benefit of organic manures and composts in a whole farm programme to suit crop requirements. 6. Irrigation Scheduling to manage the water requirements of individual crops over a wide range of soil types with full consideration for soil health and structure.
Biodiversity Introduction The last few decades have seen an unprecedented decline in all forms of farmland biodiversity. Biodiversity covers all living species and for the grower this can be seen as both a spectacular addition to farm value or a potential increase in species that compromise yield and quality. With so much attention placed on cultivation, biodiversity management can be viewed as nonbusiness critical or difficult to develop and maintain. British farms are world leaders in biodiversity management however no farming culture can operate in isolation; increasing pressure on commercial returns married with confusion over environmental grants have had a negative impact on developing biodiversity management further. Our work with LEAF has been tremendous in reaffirming
and promoting our belief that farming and wildlife can coexist symbiotically. The Waitrose Farm Assessment worldwide results showed we need to work harder with overseas growers to break through some of the cultural barriers that are preventing biodiversity management from flourishing. To this end, the Waitrose Agronomy Group has placed biodiversity as a leading priority for funding. We are engaged with the universities of Reading, Sussex, Cambridge, Worcester and Lancaster on this topic. One of the most interesting aspects of the new assessment is that biodiversity plans for each farm have to be in place and we ask deeper questions about the ability of the farm to sustain a wide range of species. We are aware that farms cannot in themselves solve this issue but they can have a hugely positive impact and Waitrose will lead and disseminate best practice in this crucial area for sustainability.
Common farmland species in the UK? Pollinators: Common blue butterfly (Polyommatus icarus)
Ground nesting birds: Skylark (Alauda arvensis) A small brown bird with a small crest and white-sided tail. Due to a recent and dramatic decline in its numbers, it is now a RSPB Red List species. Small mammals: Hedgehog (Erinaceus europaeus) Hedgehogs are small with rounded bodies covered in short, dark spines. Common across mainland Britain, they feed on slugs, snails and insects.
Males have blue-violet upper wings with beige colouring underneath. Females have brown upper wings with orange crescents. Adults collect nectar from flat-headed flowers and caterpillars feed on wild plants. Pollinators: Bumblebee (Bombus spp) A relatively large black body with yellow banding. They are social insects; colonies can reach 200 worker bees. To feed, workers gather pollen and nectar from plants and fruiting trees making them very important pollinators.
These species are reliant upon a healthy soil and abundant and consistent food supply.
How do your farm practices affect biodiversity?
Biodiversity Section Performance Have the different habitats for the farm been identified?
What does this mean? On the surface results are disappointing. Globally, there are almost 50% of responses showing a non-conformance to this important area. However, there may be some mitigating circumstances due to the type of growing region. The responses on UK farms were vastly improved and we thank the LEAF organisation for their role in third party accreditation within the UK. Development opportunities We have already launched a number of research projects aimed at showing the value of adopting an agro-ecological approach to food production on farms. In addition, this subject has been a key component of our supplier conferences. We expect a much better result in the basic identification of farm species habitats in the next assessment. We are also working closely with the University of Cambridge on a research scoping project, where we aim to increase our understanding of the behaviour and importance of pollinators. Throughout this process we aim to better understand existing research findings to deliver the most effective outcomes. We are trying to show that biodiversity should not be the last thought at farm level but by making it the first thought, yields and farm performance can increase.
Is there a biodiversity plan for the farm?
What does this mean? A biodiversity plan is a simple written document that we expect all growers to have. Working with local interested parties, growers, even those in the most intensive areas, can mitigate the impact that they have by caring for the environment around them. Development opportunities We expect a substantial improvement from all types of farming systems in the next assessment. We are specifically looking at land management and bee populations with the University of Worcester in the next assessment, focusing on how bees can positively affect fruit quantity and quality. We acknowledge the place of associated habitats where habitat creation is not possible.
Biodiversity Has there been a record kept of all animal species seen on the farm over the period of the plan?
Please indicate the % of farmed land that is uncropped
Green = â‰Ľ10%
Amber = <10% but broad categories of uncropped land Red = <10% or not known 43%
Development opportunities This question is particularly focused on farmland birds as they are a very good indicator species for the overall health of the farm. However the next version of the Waitrose Farm Assessment widens the response to all species including those underground as well as above.
What does this mean? The most striking thing here was that 70% of the farms assessed had more than 10% of their land left as uncropped. This is much higher than we expected and a good platform to build upon. It does not mean that good land is being kept out of production but that the farm design has been implemented sympathetically, with a large proportion able to accommodate wild species. Development opportunities If managed effectively, uncropped areas can improve the biodiversity of farmland. There was a wide variation in the answers with some African growers only farming a small percentage of their total area. We are interested in providing a clearer articulation of the benefit of biodiversity on farms through uncropped land. We will be placing greater emphasis on ensuring that crop management is not in conflict with the creation of good biodiversity. We are working with the University of Reading to understand the relationship between uncropped areas and successful soft fruit production. This may impact upon overall input used for the crop.
Energy Introduction Energy consumption represents a large proportion of the cost of food and can vary extensively between crops. The need to increase efficiency of energy use and embrace renewable energy sources are consistent themes within the WFA. The WFA focuses on energy use at the farm level and measures this through renewable energy sourcing. Whilst the number of growers utilising only renewable energy is encouraging, there is always more that can be done and we must continue to promote the viability of wind, solar and anaerobic digesters, to ensure that further efficiencies can be derived from these technologies. Within this section the WFA not only focuses on the type of energy source, but on the savings made through minimising energy leaks or wastage. For example using crop covers in glasshouses, replacing old equipment with energy efficient models and
sealing cold stores correctly are all effective measures to minimise energy consumption. We anticipated a mixed result in this section and were not surprised to see how the supply base performed, as this is one of the key challenges facing farming the world over. In the new version of the assessment we have asked for greater detail so that challenges and successes within this area can be better defined and analysed. We need to consider the viability of fossil fuels as a long term source of energy. Non renewable sources are gradually being replaced by more sustainable energy sources, but the pace of change is inconsistent between countries, crop types and individual growers.
Solar energy Jim Flambert, Primafruit The installation of one hectare of solar panels in the Copiapó Valley will allow Subsole to generate enough energy to pump water from the ground for the irrigation of over 265 hectares of grapevines. Located in the middle of the Atacama Desert, they are aided by ideal climate conditions with the highest solar radiation in the world. This reliability and the viability of the project allowed Subsole to receive professional, technical and financial advice. The energy Subsole’s photovoltaic system produces sustainable, clean, cheap, and secure energy with zero CO2 emissions resulting in a 389 tonne reduction in CO2 emissions. To begin with, the solar panels are capable of producing 300 kW of energy. In the following two stages, the generating capacity will reach 1 MW, equivalent to the amount of energy required by more than 600 households.
The potential Subsole’s solar panel system sets an example for Chilean and international agriculture, as well as for the development of clean and renewable energy in the industrial sector of the country. It demonstrates that, even in the most arid desert in the world, it is possible to generate enough energy to irrigate and produce high quality fruit. It is an innovative solution for a country that is looking to diversify its energy sources and wants to have more clean energies in its matrix. This project is perfectly replicable in other areas of Chile and in any kind of industry. New business opportunities This project will bring new business opportunities. In the Copiapó Valley, Subsole will continue harvesting table grapes two months earlier than in any other part of Chile. Moreover, they will reach the highest international standards of environmental care and sustainability, laying the foundations for the future.
Energy Section Performance Has energy from non-renewable sources been reduced in the past year?
What does this mean? This was an encouraging response as it shows that two-thirds of suppliers are attempting to reduce their use of non-renewable energy sources. We recognise there is much inconsistency from country to country and also in the effectiveness of various forms of renewable energy. This is a most challenging area for our growers in terms of long term planning and short term financial costs. Development opportunities We have seen many anaerobic digesters commissioned and we support these where they are utilising a by-product of food production. Solar panels have become more common sight usually where the farm has a large building that can be utilised. There are some striking examples of growers having a large area devoted to solar.
Renewable energy sources Keston Williams, Barfoots of Botley Current farm and factory sustainable energy production includes wind, solar and PV, biomass, anaerobic digestion, CHP and geothermal. All have both positives and negatives associated with them and not all will fit every scenario. There are, however, lots of developments in this area and many advances in technology have made these systems more affordable and more efficient. Energy production needs to be balanced with efficiencies that can be achieved on farm or in the packhouse and factory. Investing in resource efficiency might actually require less initial investment and may pay back in a much shorter time. Key areas to focus on would be refrigeration, compressors, lighting and equipment efficiency.
Energy Renewable energy sources
Keston Williams, Barfoots of Botley Barfoots of Botley produces a number of vegetable products for Waitrose, one of which is sweetcorn. The process involves cutting the top and bottom off a cob and removing the husk around the sweetcorn. This creates a lot of green waste, 25,000 tonnes a year in fact! In order to deal with this waste (there aren’t enough cows on the South coast to eat that amount), Barfoots invested £6million in an anaerobic digester. This has now been up and running for over two years and produces 2.4 mW per hour. This is enough to power the factory, farm and export two-thirds to the National Grid. The digestate is then used on the farm to replace artificial fertilisers, and improve soil condition and organic matter.
Future developments in anaerobic digestate are required to enable more efficient use of the end product. • Digestate typically contains good levels of nitrogen and potassium, but is low in phosphate. If digestate continues to be used on the same land, phosphate fertiliser will be required or too much potassium might be applied. • There is therefore a need to create a more balanced fertiliser, possibly using the ash from a biomass plant that is typically high in phosphate. Water recovered from the digestate could be used to supplement irrigation supplies. • There is a need to find a low energy process that could convert the digestate into a more concentrated form (solid or liquid) that could be transported efficiently. • Converting gas to electricity is only 42% efficient at best. It makes more sense to be able to use gas directly in heating, fuelling vehicles or injected directly into the National Grid. • Geothermal energy can be used in many areas of the world, although here in the UK holes need to be bored to a depth of over 2.5km. However, improvements in heat pump technology could make a much shallower drill viable.
Waste Introduction Our War on Waste policy has been incorporated in our procedures at Waitrose and we work with growers to ensure that food is not unnecessarily discarded. We source from many countries and environments and realise that a â€˜one rule fits allâ€™ approach is not effective. Science & technology can both play a great part in reducing waste, for example by driving more resilient species breeding and pioneering better storage and transportation methodologies. We also have to think more radically about production methods to help growers achieve more consistent yields and accurate timing. Waitrose is very aware that savings made by growers and suppliers have in many cases been dwarfed by losses attributed to climate change. The poor summer of 2012 resulted in over a million tonnes of lost production of potatoes and the lowest
yields since the drought year of 1976. These types of crop losses are usually omitted from the general waste figures but play a crucial part in farm sustainability. There will always be contributory factors to the issue of wastage that are beyond our control. That is why it is so important we do our utmost to reduce waste in the areas that we can influence and ensure that our efforts with suppliers permeate down to farm level. This includes monitoring seed and plant health, planting density, crop protection, harvesting, post-harvest management, transportation, specification reviews and finally effective supply chain communication. We view waste reduction as vital to the long term sustainability of a supply chain and the assessment results showed that this is perhaps the most difficult challenge that growers face.
Supporting our growers... Maximising crop utilisation
Working in collaboration with our suppliers and growers, we have been able to utilise weather affected produce in crops such as potatoes, plums and apples. Despite their imperfect appearance, Waitrose is sticking by weather blemished British apples and the farmers who grew them by stocking bags of the fruit in its stores this autumn. The blemished Cox, Braeburn, Gala, Jazz and Red Dessert apples taste just as good as flawless-looking versions of the same varieties. Orchards in Suffolk and Kent that supply Waitrose were devastated by severe frosts that struck when their apple and pear trees were in blossom. One Suffolk grower in 2012 even lost more than half his predicted harvest to the harsh weather. The fruit that did survive was left with frost markings to its skin. Waitrose has stepped in to help its growers maximise their income by putting packs of the weather blemished apples on sale this autumn.
Waste Section Performance Has farm waste been calculated?
Does the farm have a waste plan?
What does this mean? We have been working on this subject for many years and the concept of calculating farm waste has proved to be one of the most difficult to implement as it is not simply about farm product being discarded. Our waste policy relates to any waste in the production process. Therefore despite the number of reds, we are actually pleased that so many of our growers have responded. In addition to physical waste we take into account crop failure. Development opportunities The retailer has a unique role to play by ensuring there is strong communication throughout the supply chain. Our buyers and food technologists will endeavour to utilise crop in seasons of stress. However our figures show that crop waste is very seasonal and that climate change has had a serious impact upon the stability of crop yields. There is no simple solution but new crop production methods and varieties are being sought in several key production areas.
What does this mean? Having accepted that farm waste needs to be calculated the next step is to implement a waste plan working with the supplier and retailer. Development opportunities Part of the retailerâ€™s role is to ensure long term stability at farm level and to tie in promotional activity with genuine seasons of surplus. We also have a dedicated variety development team that ensures the sustainability of the chosen varieties.
War on waste
Simon Faulkner, Produce World (Sutton Bridge) Ltd
In November 2008, Waitrose requested we implement a project to reduce the waste from production in the field right through to the packed product on the shelves. To achieve our objective we have adopted a targeted and collaborative approach with our growers to reduce waste through the following methods:
• Improved programming that matches farms more closely with varieties. This looks at geographical spread, soil type and farm capabilities. • Measurement and identification of key defects in crops and setting improvement targets. This will have been aided by improved agronomic input and variety selection. • In the factory, we have identified key defects and challenged the factory process to improve efficiency.
• By challenging the specification we have improved crop utilisation and managed to reduce waste. • Store waste has been measured and identified and reductions achieved in this area. • Finally, through in-house training, we have improved the branch knowledge of the product to ensure correct management throughout the production process.
Through these methodologies we have succeeded in a reduction in waste from 43% to between 25-28% over the last four years. Working with our growers on these key objectives, we believe we can drive down waste even further over the coming years.
Pesticides Introduction Plant Protection Products in fresh produce include insecticides, herbicides and fungicides. Our strategy is to promote integrated crop management which is a process of assessing pesticide usage in conjunction with other alternative practices. The questions in the assessment focus on standard best practice and a score of 100% was expected. Their inclusion on the insistence of the Waitrose Agronomy Group was also due to the critical importance of this issue in relation to human and environmental safety. Pesticides contribute to higher yields being achieved. We are becoming increasingly aware that continued prophylactic use may pose increasing challenges in periods of extreme weather. How we ensure plant health and sustain high biodiversity is a key challenge for us all. In this section we have used example questions rather than an exhaustive list, therefore we have summarised the overall performance of the category rather than looking at each question in turn. In addition, the pesticide questions replicate those of many assurance schemes, therefore our expectation was 100% conformance.
Chemical store best practice Ben Cleghorn, Parallel Grapes This chemical store belonging to a Chilean table grape producer demonstrates many of the measures that are required to be in place to ensure the safe management of chemicals and the importance put upon these. The store is purpose built and ensures chemicals are appropriately controlled. It has internal cages for product segregation and is devoid of porous materials. Health and Safety is considered top priority with good lighting, extensive signage, fire extinguishers and emergency washing facilities all close to hand and an inventory on a nearby shelf for the signing in and out of product.
Pesticides Section Performance 2% 4% 3%
Is the pesticide and fertiliser store bunded to a suitable level?
Are the contents and layout of the store compliant?
Does the farm provide showering/wash facilities and a first aid kit including eye wash within easy reach of the pesticide mixing area?
Is there a comprehensive system for compliance with harvest intervals and is access to recently sprayed blocks restricted?
2% 1% 4%
Are records kept of all applications to the crop both pre and post harvest, including justification for use?
Is there a pesticide reduction programme in place?
Are non-chemical options being used in the growing of the crop e.g. cultural techniques, non chemical control, IPM and biologicals?
Does the grower have procedures in place to minimise impact of pesticide applications on neighbours crops and own farm crops?
Does the grower have access to an up to date database of current permission to use PPPâ€™s?
Is there a competent person trained to national standards to administer on site permissions to use these chemicals (e.g. BASIS)?
What does this mean? While these questions are standard features of many assurance schemes, their importance here cannot be ignored and we wanted to take the opportunity to reaffirm this as an important part of the Waitrose Farm Assessment. The responses relating to the use of non-chemical options are encouraging and show positive developments in this area. Some non-chemical options that growers are utilising include seed treatments, biological controls, integrated pest management and measures such as chromatic plates, elimination of damaged leaves and removal of plants with virus. These all represent areas for future development with the aim to reduce pesticide applications throughout the grower base. The question regarding minimising the impact of pesticide applications shows a good result. We are working with the farms that have not been able to conform to this question and hope to see positive developments from them as part of version 2. We were surprised however at the number of red and amber responses relating to showering/wash facilities and have identified this as a critical area for improvement. Overall the results for this section were pleasing and we hope to see even further progress toward 100% positive results in version 2.
Question in focus Is there a pesticide reduction programme in place?
What does this mean? Integrated crop management systems aim to limit pesticide applications and with new technologies and pesticides coming to the market we would expect a reduction in overall quantity and toxicity. The results show this to be generally the case but the number of growers not recording their work in this area was a concern. Further work is underway to help drive this forward in the coming years.
Development opportunities Waitrose is working closely with the University of Hertfordshire to evaluate a pesticide scoring system to help accurate measurement and implementation of pesticide reduction. This work will inform and improve the Waitrose policy on encouraging the use of safer and more sustainable crop protection products. Waitrose and its suppliers know this will be a key focus over the next few seasons as we make further progress on reduction and selection.
Worker welfare Introduction Ensuring that the businesses we work with provide safe working environments for their people is paramount. However itâ€™s all too easy to forget that welfare isnâ€™t solely concerned with making sure that the proper health and safety standards are adhered to. The John Lewis Partnership prides itself on the happiness of the Partners within its businesses. At Waitrose we strive to exemplify this culture for our suppliers and for each farm that we source from and insist on the highest standards of worker welfare throughout our entire supply chain.
Improving worker welfare conditions is a win-win for all members of the supply chain and we would encourage growers to share resources and best practice on worker welfare where appropriate. Resources on worker welfare can be found on the Waitrose Sustainable Agriculture website (http:// sustainableagriculturewaitrose.org/). To share any such resources, please contact the Waitrose Responsible Sourcing Team, who can arrange for these to be uploaded. Welfare is central to building a sustainable future as the success of any journey towards sustainability will always be based on the decisions and implementations of the people involved. In this section we have used example questions rather than an exhaustive list, therefore we have summarised the overall performance of the category instead of looking at each question in turn.
Foundation Funded Initiatives
KHE Njegas health centre, Kenya The KHE Njegas health centre received Foundation funding with the main aim of ensuring the facility is sufficiently equipped to operate the new laboratory and maternity facilities. The health centre was built through a contributory or matching fund established by KHE and 10 smaller grower groups in Karie. For every kilo of green beans sold for export, the growers and KHE would contribute $0.013 USD to the project raising $120,000 USD of which $80,000 was used for the construction of the health centre. Additional objectives of the project were to provide a closer relationship with growers and strengthen KHEâ€™s presence in the local area.
The provision of modern medical services has vastly improved the care for expectant mothers who would otherwise need to travel 27km or more to reach the nearest referral facility in Kerugoya. The centre has already helped in the reduction of risks during births and also offers health care for children. Immunisations for the young to prevent diseases that cause childhood mortality have been vital, as well as offering improved maternal health care through various health promotion programmes offered at the centre. With two nurses and one lab technician employed in the health centre, it has the capacity to cater for approximately 1,500 patients per month.
Worker welfare Section Performance 1%
Are there operational field toilets in place?
Are all signs in the appropriate languages for the workforce? 1%
Do you provide workers with free access to water and food storage facilities and is there a separate area for the consumption of food and drink and for smoking?
Has a risk assessment been carried out on farm operations with specific reference to health and safety?
Is formal training provided for workers on the use of any farm vehicles and machinery and good working practices, including all terrain vehicles and is the appropriate personal protective equipment provided?
Is an accident log present and up to date?
What does this mean? The Waitrose Farm Assessment has provided some very useful insights into the worker welfare standards across our grower base. On the whole, we have been encouraged by the results. However, the assessments have also identified a number of areas where improvement is needed, which we expect all growers to action in a timely manner. We hope this will lead to an improvement in worker welfare standards across our grower base.
Quality & harvesting Introduction Every initiative that we are engaged in has been designed to improve the overall quality of the food we harvest. There are always many variables outside our control, but this forms the excitement and the risk that working in fresh produce brings. Harvesting time is a key process and no two seasons are the same. In fact the level of variable influences make harvesting one of the most critical functions. Great communication leads to great collaboration and the more we understand about the quality being produced, the better we can manage and maintain a quality fresh offer through to the customer. The Waitrose Farm Assessment identifies quality as a central measure of our success and once harvested, correct handling of the produce is critical, including the speed and type of pre-cooling, together with consistent thermal controls. While we cannot make the harvested stock better, great controls can minimise waste and drive efficiency for all involved. Harvesting is the key stage in defining quality as it is usually the starting point for product degradation.
With this in mind, techniques to provide optimal harvesting and post-harvest management are essential to improving quality that penetrates right through to store. In this section we have used example questions rather than an exhaustive list, therefore we have summarised the overall performance of the category instead of looking at each question in turn.
Strawberries - Harvesting and post-harvest management
Tim Newton, Berryworld • Fruit must be carefully picked directly into the punnets. • Harvest trays should be well ventilated and hold one layer of fruit. • Harvest should be scheduled around the coolest parts of the day, avoiding midday peak temperatures. • Harvest teams should be trained against Waitrose specifications and closely supervised, with no more than 25 pickers to one supervisor. • A shaded area must be provided for consolidating fruit in the field and trays must be kept off the ground.
• Transportation from the field to the packhouse should be adequate to prevent fruit damage/contamination (i.e. provide protection from direct sunlight and dust, chill if long journey, etc.) • Fruit should be in a chilled environment within one hour of harvest. • Pre-cooling should chill core temperature to 5°C within three hours ideally. • Product should be cooled to a homogeneous temperature of 3°C before despatch. • Refrigerations in transport vehicles should be set to 3°C and chilled prior to docking.
Quality & harvesting Section Performance 1%
Is there a documented training plan for all harvesters?
Are all harvest containers clean and well maintained?
Before harvesting commences, is the stock subjected to a quality inspection?
Does harvesting offer protection from product bruising, dehydration, direct sun, rain, etc?
1% 3% 18%
Is the appropriate post-harvest management available for the quantity of stock being harvested?
Does the farm have a system for avoiding contamination of stock?
What does this mean? We are aware of the extraordinary lengths growers go to in producing high quality fresh produce and these results show good performance in a key area. Despite widespread acknowledgement of the importance of this section, there are many variables which affect product quality that cannot easily be controlled. Ensuring the quality of produce is a continuous process throughout the growing season, but it is the timing and assessment of the final product quality that determines the performance of stock. Decisions about long term storage or immediate use are made at this point in the process. We are working with Muddy Boots on solutions to ensure data is available across the supply chain as we seek to maximise quality performance and minimise waste.
Protected cropping Introduction Crops grown under glass or polythene account for a growing number of our sales. These include tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers and in recent years soft fruit. Protected cropping has allowed crops that weren’t traditionally grown in the UK to be grown here. The exciting part of protected cropping is the way the environment can be manipulated to reduce or even eliminate pesticide applications. Many glasshouses use bees for pollination and predators for pest control. Protected cropping units appear in many countries and the assessment process has given us a sharper focus on what can or should be achieved. However, of all the sectors, the issue of energy is most acute in protected cropping units. Particularly in the northern hemisphere, growers are seeking solutions to lower overall energy usage. In the UK, solutions are often combined heat and power units where the CO2 generated is used to aid plant growth. One of the positive aspects of protected cropping is the ability to protect the plant from extreme climate variation, therefore there is currently much attention given to this area and we expect a rise in the diversity of crops grown under glass.
Growing flowers hydroponically Paula Edgington, Waitrose The move to grow tulips hydroponically rather than using the traditional method of growing in trays with a peat based compost has reduced the amount of peat used for growing tulips in the UK and Holland considerably over the last five years.
can be quicker than traditional growing methods. There is also a greater degree of mechanisation to grow and handle the crop which reduces the manual handling and increases efficiency.
When grown hydroponically, the tulip bulbs are pinned into spiked trays, irrigated and placed into cold storage in order for the roots to develop. Once this has happened the trays are placed into the growing location in the glasshouses for the stems to grow and the flowers to develop. The stems are harvested by ‘pulling’ the stem complete with the bulb attached and then the bulb is removed and the stems packed into bunches for sale.
However, there are certain challenges created by this method of growing. There needs to be a far higher level of hygiene to ensure the growing trays used are systematically disinfected to reduce the potential problems with Pythium. In addition, some varieties of tulips do not grow well hydroponically and still need to be grown in compost. Even bearing these factors in mind, it is estimated that over 90% of cut flower tulip production is now through the hydroponic method.
The advantages, in addition to reducing the use of peat, are a cleaner product and greater use of glasshouse space as the crop cycle
Protected cropping Section Performance
Where crops are grown in hydroponic systems is the run-off recirculated?
Is there a system of personnel control and bio-security in place to prevent the introduction of plant pathogens into the crop?
8% 24% 38%
What does this mean? The recapturing of nutrients is modern technology which is both efficient and useful. Not all growing structures have this ability and the assessment shows that this is a work in progress.
What does this mean? Many crops are grown to a very high standard of hygiene as inadvertent contamination can lead to crop failure. Our suppliers are very sensitive to this hence the inclusion of this question.
Development opportunities The protected cropping area is a considerable part of our business and one where the growing structure can aid efficiency. We are working with our suppliers to ensure that we continually invest in appropriate structures that enable the most modern technology to be implemented.
Development opportunities This is a UK initiative and one that we are increasingly keen to see adopted in all protected growing sites abroad.
Protected cropping Glasshouse biological control Veryan Bliss, Stubbins Nurseries Biological control started in the early 1970s with the introduction to the UK of a parasitic wasp (Encarsia formosa) for the control of glasshouse whitefly (Trialeurodes vaporariorum) a major pest at the time. The Encarsia formosa was bred and delivered on tobacco leaves but later developments meant it was available on easy to use cards by the early 1980s. If used at low level preventatively and with higher levels when the first whitefly is seen, Encarsia formosa has meant that there is no need for any chemical intervention to be used. Since the early days of biocontrol, more and more parasitic insects have become available to us. Each step along this road has decreased our reliance on pesticides, as we learn to use the insects that nature has bred to do the job for us. Today we use bio control to combat four types of leaf miner, the main one being Liriomyza bryoniae. Like most other pests they have natural predators. In this instance these are two kinds of parasitic wasps, which work in a similar way to the Encarsia wasp. Another common enemy is the two-spotted red spider mite (Tetranychus urticae) which has a number of natural predators and the species we use depends upon what crop the spider mite is found in. Some predators find it easier to fight through the jungle of hairs on a tomato or cucumber plant, whereas others are better suited to the smooth leaves of a pepper plant, or are able to fly to find their prey.
The newest pest to hit our shores is Tuta absoluta, a moth that lays larvae that burrow their way into the leaf and sometimes fruit of tomatoes. Even though this is a relatively new pest the control mechanism is via integrated pest management, by using some chemical treatments, combined with pheromone traps, and predators such as Macrolophus pygmaeus. Thankfully we do not have any Tuta absoluta on our sites due to our rigorous hygiene controls. Although it is the latest, Tuta absoluta will not be the last insect to emerge as a pest to glasshouse crops and we need to keep searching for predator insects that help us to reduce our reliance on pesticides. We have already seen 90% reduction in pesticides since the 1970s and our aim of achieving zero pesticide use becomes closer as we continue to learn to control with predators.
Final word.... Summary from Professor Bill Davies CBE, Lancaster University We hope that you agree that this document reports on a significant and ambitious piece of work and is a substantial step forward to a more environmentally sustainable food supply chain. The agenda here, defined by Waitrose in collaboration with its supply base, is to address a high proportion of those issues defined by the Foresight group as areas of concern in the field of food and farming. The impetus for this work has been provided by the Waitrose Agronomy Group, a selection of prominent suppliers and company technical managers who operate with support from the research community. More details on the Waitrose Agronomy Group and its aims and objectives are provided on the Waitrose Sustainable Agriculture website (http://sustainableagriculturewaitrose.org). The Agronomy Group is now working with an increasing number of the UKâ€™s leading researchers both in the agrisciences and in the environmental sciences and ecology fields. Together they are defining best practice in food production and environmental stewardship and more importantly, providing information on new approaches and technologies which will help producers address their major challenges in these areas. On the website, you can find details of collaborating researchers and their on-going work with the supply base. The data presented here show progress towards the ultimate aim of a more sustainable supply chain and our expectation is that as our science - business collaboration grows, more progress will be made towards best practice. Some areas for development are specified here. Individual issues are defined by the results of the WFA and our hope is that this information will be helpful to collaborating researchers in focusing attention on particular challenges to the supply base. Researchers who have expertise in our areas of key interest/concern are asked to respond to priority aims defined herein. These researchers may previously have worked in agriculture or horticulture but increasingly the supply base is needing help from environmental scientists, ecologists and from technologists who may see novel opportunities within the horticulture/agriculture sectors. Waitrose is already providing pump-priming funding which has started to deliver results that are valuable in their
own right but have been used as the basis for additional funding bids to lever more research money into the sector. A good example of our links with researchers who may not have been strongly involved in the fresh produce area is the work on soil health which is underway in collaboration with Rothamsted Research and Cranfield University. These world-leading researchers have previously largely focused their attention on arable systems but are now applying their interest to soil structural and chemical issues which are key for our producers. Our collaborating researchers have broad international expertise in their specialist areas and the supply chain is also benefitting from these links. For example, Ian Dodd at Lancaster University has extensive collaboration with growers and researchers in the Spanish National Research Council and the results of this and other collaborations with microbiologists elsewhere in Europe have led to a Waitrose sponsored project focusing on sustainable water use in water scarce regions and the exploitation of soil biology to enhance resource use efficiency. Waitroseâ€™ focus on reducing the use of pesticides in the production process is manifest in sponsored work on pollinators with a number of universities, including Sussex, Cambridge and Worcester. Â While the assessment process and the documentation process are good news stories that will pleasantly surprise many who are not familiar with the business, the much bigger story is that as a result of our innovative collaborations between Waitrose, suppliers and research partners, we are beginning to change farming and food supply practices for the better. There are multiple benefits from the approach that we are taking but as a result of the WFA programme, we are now starting to document reduced use of input resources by the supply chain, reduced waste and the introduction of a suite of environmentally-friendly practices . Our strongly held view is that our farming and food production activities are having a much more positive impact on environmental quality and biodiversity and, through reduced use of agrochemicals, a likely reduction in risk to human health and well-being. The fact that researchers have enthusiastically signed up to this agenda is also a very impressive, good-news story. We hope that you will follow our progress by consulting successive reports and our website. Bill Davies November 2013
Our research partners Beyond the growers and suppliers that have been invaluable in forming this report, Waitrose would like to express their thanks to the following individuals and research bodies: Professor Bill Davies CBE Professor Simon Potts Professor Francis Ratnieks Professor Karl Ritz Professor Andy Whitmore Professor Peter Gregory Dr. Mark Else Dr. Martin Lukic Dr. Lynne Dicks Dr. Duncan Westbury Dr. Tina Barsby Dr. Kathleen Lewis Waitrose Agronomy Group
Lancaster University University of Reading University of Sussex Cranfield University Rothamsted Research East Malling Research East Malling Research University of Reading University of Cambridge University of Worcester NIAB TAG University of Hertfordshire
For more information please visit the Waitrose Communication Portal. http://sustainableagriculturewaitrose.org