This year will be memorable for many reasons, not least the Queen’s Jubilee and the Olympics. Amongst the farming community, however, 2012 will mainly be remembered for some of the toughest growing conditions in living memory.

We were faced with droughts before spring had really begun and floods during one of our wettest summers yet. These have had a sometimes catastrophic effect on farmers - BBC’s Countryfile estimated they would cost British agriculture up to £1bn.

Volatile weather is increasingly the norm eight of the past 10 years have seen significant crop loss due to extreme weather across Europe. So it is becoming ever more important that manufacturers find ways to work with farmers to deliver sustainable agricultural practices.

The fact is an economically and environmentally sustainable farming industry is vital for the future of the UK food industry. For PepsiCo, British farming is the engine of our business, from the potatoes for Walkers crisps to the oats for Quaker porridge and the apples for Copella juice.

We believe collaboration is key and that means building long-term relationships with the farmers who supply us. We are currently working with many of our UK farms to deliver ‘50 in 5’ - a 50% reduction in water use and carbon emissions of our key UK crops by 2015.

One way we will achieve this is through significant investment in new farming technologies such as i-crop, a system that offers precision information about crops so farmers can judge how much water to use, and a smartphone app that helps forecast crop yield more accurately.

Our partner in this work is Cambridge University, who we’ve worked closely with for almost 40 years. Our goal is to deliver technology that can help farmers grow ‘more crop, per drop’.

” i-crop will help farmers judge exactly how much water to use”

The results are promising. Initial trials of i-crop have proved the potential of the technology with a 13% increase in crop yield against an 8% reduction in water use across 46 of PepsiCo’s UK potato farms. We are now embarking upon drip irrigation trials that have the potential to make watering crops more precise and efficient than ever.

Our work in this area is just one reason PepsiCo recently received the prestigious Stockholm Industry Water Award, recognising our global achievements in reducing water consumption in our operations and supply chain.

Of course, water use is not our only challenge and we are also working to cut carbon in our supply chain. We were one of the first companies to use the Cool Farm Tool, a carbon calculator that enables farmers to readily assess their carbon emissions, and we are trialling lower carbon fertilisers with our growers.

We are also investing in new potato crop varieties that offer improved yield, are more disease resistant and take less water and fertiliser. All these programmes will play a significant part in helping us hit our ‘50 in 5’ target.

Food supply is one of the most pressing challenges we face. We want to ensure UK farming is sustainable now and in the future. I invite all who share this goal to join us on this journey.