// Waitrose to trial agricultural innovation and regenerative farming practices at its Hampshire farm
// The retailer aims to achieve the title of being net zero by 2035
Waitrose has announced that its farm at the Leckford Estate will be a testbed for future agricultural innovation and regenerative farming practices.
The Hampshire estate will be trialling new farming innovations over the next 15 years, helping the retailer achieve its aim of being net zero by 2035.
Waitrose said data would be shared with its farming network to ensure that suppliers benefitted from the findings.
The plan will see Waitrose take advantage of its mixed arable and livestock farming system at Leckford.
As well as using beef cattle to fertilise the soil, new methods will promote topsoil regeneration, improve water efficiency, and support bio-sequestration.
An end goal for Waitrose is to strengthen the health of soils, and increase biodiversity throughout the natural habitats that its farms co-exist with.
As well as maintaining wildflower plots to encourage pollinators, herbal leys will be introduced which will be left for three and a half years, grazed by cattle as part of its arable rotation.
This will include grasses, legumes and herbs such as red clover, which will help sequester carbon and add nutrients to the soil to create resilient pasture.
“We will use our farmland at Leckford and the full weight of our resources to facilitate radical change across our industry,” Waitrose executive director, James Bailey said.
“Specifically, we will use a combination of research and practical application to identify the best farming techniques to help us manage this land in a way that is kinder to the environment.
“Whether it’s planting trees to promote biodiversity, or reducing water usage to protect resources or using regenerative soil practices that help sequester carbon, our focus will be on biology rather than chemistry.”
Waitrose has committed over 40 per cent of the farmland to nature conservation and turn any areas with unsuitable topography into natural spots to increase biodiversity.