Farmers in East Yorkshire seek to cut emissions with ‘cover crops’

Trials of an innovative project have shown plants, which are planted to cover the soil can sequester more than four tonnes of carbon every year

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An innovative project which aims to slash carbon dioxide emissions, reduce flooding and improve soil health will soon see 40 farmers in East Yorkshire grow ‘cover crops’ in their fields.

The ‘Sustainable Landscapes Humber project’ is a collaboration between the water supply and treatment utility company Yorkshire Water, Nomad Foods-owned frozen food brand Birds Eye, the consultancy for the food industry Future Food Solutions and Hull and Teesside universities.

Trials have shown plants which are planted to cover the soil rather than for the purpose of being harvested, known as cover crops, can increase soil organic matter, a substance important for the soil fertility, by up to 40 tonnes per hectare and can sequester more than four tonnes of carbon every year.

Andrew Walker, Asset Strategy Manager for Yorkshire Water, 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 carbon dioxide. If grown on a global scale, arable farming could become the first sector of the economy to be net carbon zero.”