Bayer CropScience and Farm Frites recently started a Food Chain Partnership initiative designed to implement sustainable agricultural practices in potato cultivation in the Netherlands and Belgium. The goal of the partnership is to support a bottom-up approach with potato farmers addressing value-adding sustainable potato-growing practices at individual farm level. This is intended to minimize the environmental impacts of agricultural production in order to keep potato farming attractive in the long term.
“Potato is a valuable crop for farmers in western Europe and a key raw material for the potato processing industry, for example for flakes, mash and French fries,” said Leon Boer, Director Potato Procurement of Farm Frites. “Therefore, the implementation of sustainable practices is a must for local farmers. With this collaboration we want to enable our contract growers to consistently meet our high-quality standards and stay competititve.”
Within this initiative, Bayer CropScience will share its vast expertise in potato agronomy and sustainability measures. “Bayer CropScience’s contribution to sustainable agriculture is at the core of our business supporting our customers with innovative solutions, proactive stewardship and partnerships,” explained Silke Friebe, Head of Food Chain Management at Bayer CropScience. “Our core competencies lie in developing and supplying integrated crop solutions that are locally adapted and tailored to the individual needs of our customers. The common goal is to help drive a sustainable productivity increase and to improve crop quality.”
Set-up of pilot farms to put theory into practice
In a first step, a set of measures to improve sustainability in potato cultivation and the associated in-field activities have been jointly compiled and shared. This toolbox of available measures covers a broad range of topics: biodiversity, erosion, soil fertilization, stewardship, energy, product quality, pest and disease monitoring as well as advice on the efficient and safe use of crop protection products. Five pilot farms, three in Belgium and two in the Netherlands, which supply their harvests to Farm Frites have been selected for the coming potato season. The two Dutch farms are also members of the Skylark foundation, a cooperation between arable farmers and food processors aimed at promoting greater sustainability in agricultural production. All partners are striving to align this Food Chain Partnership initiative closely with the Skylark foundation methodology.
Involved farmers were interviewed individually to identify the sustainable measures best suited to optimizing their own farm operations and meeting individual farm needs. All pilot farms will use the Skylark methodology to assess their last five year developments on sustainability measures. Based on the individual selection and priorization of activities at the pilot farms, action plans were defined in a bottom-up approach together with Farm Frites and Bayer to jointly implement and follow up on specific activities throughout this coming potato-growing season. Following analysis of the results achieved in the first season, recommendations and refinements will be made for follow-up in the next season.
To encourage interaction and provide a platform for sharing experiences and knowledge among farmers Bayer and Farm Frites will organize a ‘Tour de Farm’, a set of open field days at the pilot farms, at the end of May.
Bayer Food Chain Partnership fosters stronger links along the supply chain and promotes sustainable agriculture
In its Food Chain Partnership business model, Bayer CropScience brings together growers, traders, processors and retailers. Building on the company’s profound knowledge of crops, the common goal of the Food Chain Partnership initiatives is to improve yields and quality of the harvested produce, helping to drive a productivity and efficiency increase based on sustainable agricultural principles for the benefit of all partners involved. Bayer CropScience can build on ten years of experience in Food Chain Partnerships in 30 countries spanning 40 crops, primarily fruit and vegetables.
This successful model is currently being extended to broad-acre crops such as oilseed rape, wheat and rice.