Pembrokeshire farmer Morgan Scale is growing carbon neutral potatoes for the Puffin Produce Root Zero brand, offsetting emissions from production through the use of woodland, hedgerows and cover crops.
Root Zero has recently planted a ‘Biodiversity Woodland’ of 2,500 trees on 1.2 ha of Pembrokeshire, creating a ‘stream-side woodland corridor with species including oak, cherry, downy birch and hazel.’ The new woodland is expected to sequester 380 tonnes of carbon over the next 100 years. In total, growers for the brand are expected to plant 12 ha of trees by 2030.
Huw Thomas, CEO of Puffin Produce, commented, “Planting the first trees for the Root Zero Biodiversity Woodland is a major step towards achieving those targets and showing that we can create commercially successful, sustainable products by adapting the way we grow, process and transport our vegetables. I’m proud that Root Zero will be leaving a woodland legacy for generations to come.”
Mr Scale is currently growing 28 ha of Maris Piper for the pre-pack market and 20 ha of Marfona and a range of other varieties. As well as trees and woodland, he uses a cover crop mix of 50% grasses (mainly oats); 25% legumes (such as clovers and vetches); 20% brassicas (forage rapes and turnips); and 5% flowering crops (like phacelia, buckwheat, and sunflowers). The farm claims already sequester enough carbon to offset on-farm potato production, as well as the emissions created by potato supply chain, including transport, storage, packaging, and to the kitchen table.
Building soil fertility on the 360 ha mixed farm is seen as a key element of reducing fertiliser use and therefore reducing the emissions associated with growing potatoes.