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Potato farming going green – do you know your carbon emissions?

31 July 2011

Up to 17 per cent of potato crisps’ carbon footprint comes from potato growing, revealed PepsiCo’s agricultural sustainability manager Mark Pettigrew at the AHDB Potatoes Storage Forum.

Speaking at the event at Sutton Bridge Crop Storage Research in Lincolnshire, Mr Pettigrew highlighted that measuring emissions is key to targeting areas where they can be reduced.

Until recently, there had been no tool to effectively monitor greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. However, thanks to an initiative to construct a farm-scale GHG calculator, potato growers can now measure their carbon footprint.

The Cool Farm Tool was developed by Dr John Hillier of the University of Aberdeen to monitor all areas of production in response to industry concerns.

With GHG very much in the public eye, PepsiCo is conducting a trial with a selection of its growers monitoring their production emissions.

“The first step in reducing emissions at the farm level is to develop the right tools to measure them.  This will vary by crop production.  The new tool is user-friendly and provides the carbon footprint there and then,” said  Mark.  “Armed with this information, we can work with our growers to make big reductions in emissions.”

 The need to reduce energy use was reiterated in the workshops, with discussions on topics such as inverters and the advantages and disadvantages of storing at more ambient temperatures.

“Lowering the carbon footprint of storage is not only good for the environment, it also helps growers maintain their profit margins,” said Adrian Cunnington, head of Sutton Bridge Crop Storage Research, who co-ordinated the Storage Forum.

“Understanding sustainability is key to the future and improvements can offer substantial benefits,” said Adrian. “Numerous growers took the opportunity to speak directly with the key speakers, asking questions on the issues that concern their own businesses.”

The afternoon sessions looked at the latest research on CIPC, backed up with practical workshops that included delegates participating in modelling a practical store set-up.

The Cool Farm Tool is free to download and use at www.growingforthefuture.com/content/Cool+Farm+Tool.

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