The central theme of Sustainable Agriculture is soil health. "That is the core of this plan, which is aimed at making sustainable agriculture commercially feasible," says Dirk Peters, agronomist at Lamb Weston / Meijer. "The four other material themes are greenhouse gas emission, water use, biodiversity and plant protection products. We measure performance on all these themes and work together with growers to continuously improve on them."
The plan contains all kinds of practical improvements such as specific fertilization based on GPS technology, the monitoring and optimization of moisture in the soil via app-linked soil moisture sensors, and biological control of nematodes. In the potato fields and at Arnold Timmerman's farm, about 40 Dutch LWM growers received an explanation from experts about soil health, the influence of fertilization on plant growth and plant health and the practical use of information from satellite images.
The Sustainable Agriculture Plan was developed in 2017 by Lamb Weston / Meijer and CLM Research and Advice, after which it has been tested in the Netherlands since the beginning of this year with eight growers in three regions. "Together we started working on these five themes to test sustainable agriculture techniques, perform baseline measurements, share experiences and find new solutions", says Dirk Peters.
Solutions that are needed for the challenges that agriculture faces. "A safe and secure food production for future generations is a well-known global theme," says John Wiskerke, Director Strategic Supply Chain & Ambient Business at Lamb Weston / Meijer. "That offers possibilities for potatoes, which produce more calories and good nutrients per hectare than any other agricultural crop, and can be grown with relatively little water and fertilization."
He also emphasizes the importance of close collaboration with the growers. John Wiskerke: "We link theoretical knowledge to practical implementation and strive to continuously improve our performance. The starting point is a healthy return for growers while maintaining soil health. In our view, that is the core of sustainable agriculture. With an ever lower negative impact on the environment and local societies, achieving a healthy soil and improved yields."