In the face of global climate change, companies are recognising the importance of taking responsibility for their environmental impact. Working towards net zero is a significant objective for Vitacress, not only to protect the land we use but to nurture the future and ensure long term sustainability. Here we explore some of the progress made across the Group.

Looking after the environment is Second Nature to us

We are working towards becoming net zero by 2040 and have put in place a framework to help us achieve this. Group Environment Manager, Leah Mathias-Collins, comments: “Aptly named, Second Nature, our net zero ambition will be achieved by focusing on emissions, water, plastics, waste, soils, peat and biodiversity. To support this critical work, we are committed to setting science-based targets and FLAG targets – that’s Forest Land Use and Agriculture.” These targets will help us to identify where and how we need to reduce our emissions in our operations and our supply chain.

A critical resource

Water is critical for companies like Vitacress and with volatile weather patterns across Europe, we must make sure we put measures in place to ensure we use it as efficiently and responsibly as possible. In 2022, actions were introduced to reduce the volume we use – in Vitacress Portugal, they successfully reduced their use by 33% when compared with the year before.

Production Director in Vitacress Portugal, Simon Hues comments: “Water is critical to grow the quality crops we deliver to our customers year-round and with changing weather, we knew we needed to address this quickly. We optimise irrigation and have improved the infrastructure to increase our water efficiency. We’ve also modified the growing processes on our farms which has significantly reduced the requirement across all of our growing sites.”

We take responsibility for the land we farm seriously

We know if we protect and nourish our soil sustainably now, it will continue to produce quality crops in the future. In the UK, we are working with NIAB (National Institute of Agricultural Botany) to set a blueprint for soil health. What this means is it will help us to understand the impact of our soil cultivation and therefore, identify where we can enhance rotations (enabling the soil to ‘rest’) and add Organic Matter – this puts natural nutrients back into the soil, encourages worms and increases microorganisms (the things that produce healthy soil). It also increases soil carbon which increases water retention meaning less irrigation.

We need to protect the natural world around us

Now in its third year, the Vitacress Farm Excellence (VFE) programme has made great strides. 100% of our farms work to enhance and conserve wildlife habitats and biodiversity. Launched in partnership with LEAF Marque certification to prove our commitment to sustainable farming, it measures environmental improvements through the delivery of tailored 10-year biodiversity management plans.

Claire Mike, technical & business development director at LEAF, says: “We are super proud to be part of Vitacress Farm Excellence. It’s an exemplary demonstration of a company making a firm commitment to the delivery of more sustainable farming, including water, energy and waste management, pollution control, crop health and protection as well as community engagement. Together with Vitacress and the Hampshire and Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust, we are working together to drive forward a food and farming system that encourages nature and landscapes to thrive and helps farmers in the land, protected and aquaculture sectors adapt to the changing environmental landscape.”

We also work with Carbon Rewild and adopted their bioacoustics technology to monitor birds and bats across our farms and great news – recent results identified that over a third were on the ‘red list’ which means they’re at risk of disappearing. By identifying at risk species on our farms, we know we’re doing something right so we will continue to enhance habitats to encourage them to visit our farms. We will then continue to monitor to ensure we’re on track.

Healthy soil, responsible use of water and enhancing biodiversity are just some of the actions we have taken as a business to make us more resilient, more competitive and more prepared for a rapidly changing climate. Vitacress recognises that achieving net zero is not just a goal; it’s a path to a more sustainable and resilient future for us all.