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The rollout is expected to reduce GHG emissions by up to 20% in the first year at no extra cost to farmers

Tesco has launched a large-scale trial rollout of low-carbon fertiliser with five of its largest field veg suppliers.

The rollout is expected to reduce GHG emissions by up to 20% in the first year at no extra cost to farmers.

Eight fertiliser alternatives will be used across 1,300 hectares in the 2023 growing season, with plans to scale up to a minimum of 4,000 hectares in 2024 across the retailer’s field veg suppliers.

The supermarket has said the new fertiliser alternatives could offer cost savings for farmers as chemical fertiliser costs have risen by as much as 140% in the last year.

Six of the eight fertiliser producers will be manufacturing their products in the UK from material including food waste, chicken litter, fire extinguisher waste and algae.

The UK manufacture of fertilisers, the retailer said, will create green jobs and could help reduce reliance on chemical fertilisers.

“Fertilisers are a large source of emissions in farming, but high prices and uncertainty have made it hard for farmers to take advantage of low-carbon alternatives,” said Sarah Bradbury, group quality director at Tesco.

“We hope that by working with our suppliers, our learnings from this rollout of low-carbon fertilisers can prove their potential to cut emissions and demonstrate what it would take to scale up production in the UK.”

Huntapac, Tesco’s biggest carrot supplier, will be taking part in the trial and using the R-Leaf low-carbon fertiliser.

“By moving to these new low-carbon technologies, we can save money compared to chemical-based fertiliser and at a time when all costs are going up for farmers, any steps that reduce them are ideal,” said Stephen Shields, technical director at Huntapac.

Tesco has announced plans to introduce the low-carbon alternatives to other produce areas including wheat and barley as well as grasslands, beef, Dairy and lamb supply chains.

The first year of the rollout will produce up to 70,000 tonnes of fresh produce, growing to 200,000 tonnes in 2024.

The trial is part of Tesco’s plans to reach net zero emissions across its value chain by 2050.