UK – Unilever, a global leader in consumer goods, has embarked on its inaugural regenerative farming initiative in the UK, focusing on mustard seeds and mint leaves cultivation for its Colman’s products.

This initiative is a pivotal step in Unilever’s commitment to invest in regenerative practices covering 1.5 million hectares of land and forests by 2030.

The project’s testing phase will unfold over four years, concentrating on mustard and mint farms surrounding Norwich and Peterborough.

The participating mustard farms, which have been integral to Colman’s for over two centuries, will witness the first crop under the program next month.

Unilever is partnering with key stakeholders, including farming cooperatives such as the English Mustard Growers and Norfolk Mint Growers, along with technical and academic collaborators like Farmacy and the National Institute of Agricultural Botany (NIAB).

The collaboration aims to address the challenges faced by these crops and landscapes by implementing and trialing innovative regenerative agriculture practices.

Among the practices being tested are the use of low-carbon fertilizers, strategic crop nutrition plans, the incorporation of cover and companion crops to reduce pesticide use, deployment of digital water irrigation scheduling systems, and reduced cultivation methods.

Crucially, Unilever is actively engaged in collecting baseline data with its farm partners to create a robust framework for measuring the impact of these practices.

The framework encompasses critical factors such as soil health, fertilization patterns, biodiversity, water efficiency, and carbon reduction.

Mustard farmer Michael Sly highlighted the significance of the collaboration, stating, “As with all farmers, we are facing the challenges of climate change directly on our land. Alongside our English Mustard Growers Group, we’re on the journey with Unilever and NIAB to integrate regenerative agriculture practices that include strong measurement processes, to improve our yield, improve the soil health, and maintain the flavor of a fantastic product alongside that.”

Mint farmer David Bond echoed the sentiment, stating, “This new project with Unilever will enable us to implement regenerative agriculture practices on a wider scale, together with more measurement and analysis from our partnership with NIAB, so we can continue to learn and improve for the future.”

In a broader context, this initiative aligns with the UK government’s push for sustainable farming. Environment Secretary Steve Barclay recently outlined major updates for UK farmers, including increased funding and reduced red tape.

These updates aim to strengthen supply chains, support British farmers, and align with the government’s commitment to producing at least 60% of the nation’s food.

Among the improvements announced are a 10% increase in the average value of agreements in the Sustainable Farming Incentive and Countryside Stewardship, streamlined application processes, and enhanced environmental incentives. Notably, farmers are encouraged to adopt actions that boost sustainable food production and contribute positively to the environment.

As Unilever pioneers regenerative farming in collaboration with local farmers, this initiative exemplifies the company’s dedication to sustainable and responsible agricultural practices, setting a positive precedent for the broader industry.

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