Morrisons targets net zero with Downforce Technologies

MORRISONS has announced it has been working with Downforce Technologies, a leader in science-led, data-driven land management solutions, to provide intelligence across its five “Blueprint Farms” in the UK.

Through Downforce Technologies’ platform, Morrisons can assess the soil carbon and biodiversity trends across the ecologically-diverse sites, arming the company with insights to optimise sustainable farming practices.

As British agriculture’s single biggest direct customer, Morrisons set the ambition to be the first UK supermarket to be directly supplied by net zero carbon British farms by 2030.

For businesses like Morrisons, working with a huge number of farms and suppliers across their supply chain, achieving net zero means increasing the level of carbon stored in soil (soil organic carbon) at scale.

To help achieve this, Morrisons has worked with Downforce Technologies to assess the carbon and biodiversity trends across five “Blueprint Farms”. This will equip the supermarket chain with the insights needed to optimise sustainable farming practices across the sites, as well as to measure their impact on soil health and carbon sequestration.

“Reaching net zero is an ambitious goal and one we need to deliver by working to improve soils, biodiversity and landscapes. By working alongside our farmers and experts like Downforce Technologies, we can help support the farmers supplying us on this important journey,” says Sophie Throup, Technical and Sustainability Director at Morrisons. “One of our mantras for this project is ‘seeing is believing’ and Downforce Technologies will be crucial here by helping us measure carbon sinks and prove the success of our Blueprint Farms.”

Measuring and monitoring soil health has historically been a real challenge, with traditional methods such as soil sampling proving expensive, laborious and often inaccurate on a field-to-field level.

Downforce Technologies solves this by using data fusion and machine learning to analyse historical variability in soil carbon and biodiversity. Using multiple sources of publicly-available data from field surveys and earth observations, Downforce Technologies can accurately quantify changes in soil carbon every 10 days, over the past six years at 10m resolution and biodiversity and habitat change over several decades.

Josephine Wapakabulo, CEO of Downforce Technologies said “Morrisons is truly leading the way for more sustainable supermarkets in the UK. To achieve its net zero ambition, Morrisons needs insight over the past, present and future of soil carbon and biodiversity of its farms, and Downforce Technologies delivers this in a fast and scalable way. The platform models how close each farm is to achieving net zero and provides Morrisons and its partners with the data needed to instigate and maintain sustainable approaches to land management.”

With Downforce Technologies, Morrisons has a high-resolution view of the carbon profile of each site, in Northamptonshire, Wales, Cumbria, Scotland and Yorkshire. Since each farm is unique in terms of land use (including arable land and livestock), local weather patterns and soil types, these insights will be pivotal to identifying and optimising sustainable farming practices that work for each site. This data can inform and monitor strategies like changing tilling practices, adopting crop rotations, or promoting agroforestry.

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