Andrew Walker, Asset Strategy Manager for Yorkshire Water, said the Sustainable Landscapes Humber Project laid the foundations for addressing some of the most urgent problems the world is currently facing.
He said: “Growing cover crops to increase soil organic matter is one of the most effective ways of combatting the major environmental issues we face today.
“In just seven weeks, they generate enough carbon-sequestering organic material to make a significant dent in atmospheric CO2.
“If grown on a global scale, arable farming could become the first sector of the economy to be net carbon zero.”
He added that the Sustainable Landscapes Humber Project could also play a major role in the reduction of flooding in Hull – a notorious problem for the city as much of it lies below the high-tide line.
Yorkshire Water is a core partner in the Living with Water partnership in the city, alongside East Riding of Yorkshire Council, Hull City Council and the Environment Agency.
“The remit of the Living with Water partnership is to implement measures that reduce or mitigate the impacts flooding has on Hull,” Mr Walker said.
“Research shows that achieving just a 1% increase in soil organic matter would enable agricultural land to store an extra 200,000 litres of water per hectare.
“Therefore, this project has huge implications for flood attenuation in and around Hull. Birds Eye has long term relationships and collaborations with its growers, so by working with them to increase the levels of soil organic matter in the Humber region, we can make a real impact.”
Paul Rhodes, director of Future Food Solutions, added that growing cover crops also has significant implications for soil health and the wider environment.
He said: “The plants’ root structure holds the topsoil in place reducing erosion, and the increase in organic matter means less farm inputs are required, enabling farmers to grow food more efficiently and profitably.
“Of the inputs that are required, less are leached away into the waterways, making for healthier rivers and watercourses and this has a positive knock on effect on local flora and fauna.”
James Young, Agriculture and Veg Sourcing Director, Nomad Foods said: “We have a rich history in the Humber catchment area, having worked with local farmers for over 60 years growing highest quality peas for our consumers.
“Sustainable agriculture is at the heart of our company purpose at Nomad, and has always been at the core of the partnership with these farmers.
“Therefore, we’re very excited to be involved in this project and the opportunity to work collaboratively with partners on finding solutions to issues such as climate change and flooding, as well as improving soil health for future crop production.”
Soil organic matter, water content and other metrics will be monitored by the University of Hull on an ongoing basis.