We are working with 15 potato farmers in Santerre, France, within Nestlé’s supply chain to improve the quality of soil. Fertile soil is packed with life – it’s said there are a billion microorganisms in just one handful – life which is needed to grow the food our growing population needs to eat. But that need for more food has damaged our soils, with heavy tilling, multiple harvests and an increased use of agrochemicals making it less fertile.
Yet well managed soil has the capacity to store more carbon that it emits. The objective of our work in France is to make sure the soils of Santerre are as healthy as possible. Fortunately, the region already has a good number of farmers who are very involved in soil conservation.
A recent United Nations back study found a third of the planet’s land is severely degraded, with around 24 billion tonnes of fertile soil being lost per year. While soil can be created, it’s not something that can be done quickly – it takes around 100 years to produce a single centimetre of it.
Right now we are looking at how the farmers are currently working. The plan is to build on the expertise of these farmers and then highlight their practices that promote the conservation of living soils. We aim to inspire others because we appreciate we cannot do this work alone.
We also want to use our work to convince other industrial players from the area, as well as distributors and farmers in the sector, to join the project so that it can be carried out at a greater scale. By doing this we can be the spark of a bigger movement. We need everyone in the industry to make it work – everyone has a role to play.