Sainsbury’s announces £1 million investment to help shape the future of farming

Tomatoes for R&D

Sainsbury’s has handed out over £1 million to its farmers and growers. Announced to over 700 farmers and suppliers at Sainsbury’s annual farming conference, the investment grants are set to drive the future of agriculture.

The 13 allocated projects are set to improve animal health and welfare, efficiencies and supply chain resilience at field level and development of new products or processes which help to improve quality, taste and freshness.

Sainsbury’s Agricultural Research and Development fund was first introduced last year to encourage farmers and growers to adopt leading-edge technologies and make use of research and innovations in farming. The funding was awarded to 14 projects across the UK, which included innovations to extend the British strawberry season and reduce the reliance on natural gas for tomato, cucumber and sweet pepper growers. Through these and other innovations, Sainsbury’s is working towards its target to double sales of British food by 2020 as part of Sainsbury’s 20x20 Sustainability Plan.

The application for entries was opened in September to Sainsbury’s 2,500 British farmers and growers with support from Farming Minister, David Heath.

This year saw 56 entries submitted, 21 of these were shortlisted across 14 sectors. The average awarded amount per project is £77,000 including a project to investigate methods of improving the yield of UK pears by optimising pollination.

This £1 million investment is the latest in Sainsbury’s ongoing commitment to working closely with farmers and growers to restore biodiversity, protect our natural resources and habitats and raise environmental, animal welfare and social standards throughout our supply chain.

Judith Batchelar, Director of Sainsbury’s Brand said: "We launched the Agricultural Research & Development fund last year, and were inspired by the level of innovation and forward-thinking that was evident amongst the farmers and growers we work with. This year, once again we’ve seen just how forward-thinking the agricultural industry is with 56 impressive entries.      

"There are clear challenges facing the industry, but by helping farmers and growers to realise the potential of the innovative ideas they have and look at ways to adopt existing technologies and research, we can take real steps towards new and more efficient ways of working that benefit both them and our customers."

As part of last year’s grants, the Wheat Development Group was awarded funding. This investigated three new technologies that measure nitrogen status of milling wheats under ‘real life’ conditions. The project has worked well this year and research is very much seen as a two-way process with both researchers and growers benefitting from the knowledge gained.

As a result of the research, milling wheat growers can now make better informed decisions to reduce nitrogen inputs and improve their environmental credentials to provide a more resilient supply of UK sourced grain.

The 13 allocated projects are:

  • More crop per drop: reducing the water footprint and increasing shelf life of potted and cut herb production in the UK
  • Controlling weight variation through post-weaning management methods
  • Improving the yield of UK pears by optimising pollination
  • Pest-free Organic brassicas
  • Planting a future in Peru
  • Improving supply continuity and product quality for leeks by developing frost protection methods and improved crop storage
  • Development of best management strategies for the commercial deployment of cleaner fish in salmon farms
  • Evaluation of the use of Faecal Egg Count estimated breeding values to reduce the use of anthelmintics in UK sheep systems
  • Evaluation of a new on-line, on farm Faecal Egg Count diagnostics and decision support system for the management of internal parasites in livestock

Additional investment in extensions of projects from last year’s grants

  • Alternative techniques for the control of Potato Cyst Nematode (PCN) on Jersey Potatoes
  • Improving soil and water management for sustainable intensification of potato production of four key Sainsbury’s varieties
  • Extending the British strawberry season through the application of supplementary LED lighting
  • Improving protein prediction and functionality in milling wheat

Notes to editors

  • Sainsbury's has supported British farming for 144 years and we continue to work collaboratively for the best solutions on price, animal welfare and carbon efficiencies
  • Sainsbury's has ten dedicated agricultural Development Groups with Dairy being the first and most established having been set up in 2007 and currently over 300 farmers
  • Judith Batchelar is co-chair of the Leadership Group tasked with shaping the Government’s Agriculture-Technologies Strategy
  • Sainsbury's has invested over £30 million since 2006 in its ten dedicated Farmer Development Groups across key agricultural categories
  • As part of Sainsbury’s 20x20 Sustainability Plan, Sainsbury’s aims to double sales of British food by 2020.

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About the article

  • Posted on: 10 December 2013
  • Type of article: Press release

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