Earthworm Foundation is supporting McCain in its new commitment to implement regenerative agricultural practices across 100% of its potato growing regions
Earthworm Foundation is to support its partner McCain Foods to implement new and ambitious global commitments towards soil health. McCain aims to introduce and run regenerative agricultural practices across 100% of its potato growing regions, an area of 370,000 acres, by 2030.
This commitment is aligned with Earthworm Foundation’s work bringing major players together to create systematic change to positively impact soil health, along with our ambition to help deliver one million hectares of land to transition to regenerative agriculture through our Living Soils Initiative.
Launched in 2018, Earthworm Foundation’s Living Soils (Sols Vivants) initiative supports McCain, along with Nestlé, Bonduelle, Lidl, Herta, and Purina, to improve and measure soil health in their supply chains in France, Europe’s largest agricultural producer. We also support Grupo Bimbo with regenerative agriculture in the US, and run Mitti Bole (Soil Speaks), a project to revitalise the health of agricultural soils in India. Our work in soils aims to accelerate soil regeneration through collective action mobilising the power of supply chains and partnerships with scientists, researchers and technical partners.
McCain will pilot its new commitment in France, where our partnership began with them in 2020. This pilot will begin by organising the installation on eight pilot farms by the end of 2021. Four of these farms are already in place, where McCain’s field and agronomy team are undergoing further training to make the transition to regenerative agriculture. These farms will host farmers for practical demonstration and discussions, with the aim of engaging with 160 by the end of 2022. At the heart of this strategy is developing research and technical partnerships to further advance good practices in soil health. Working closely with pilot farms, Earthworm and its technical partners will work with farmers and McCain’s agronomy team to train, coach, measure and support the transition to more sustainable practices.
Healthy soil is teeming with life, with around 50 billion organisms in any given handful. Yet the United Nations (UN) estimates a third of the planet’s soil is degraded, with intensive agriculture being one cause of that. This leaves soil not fertile enough to grow crops. Damage to the soil continues to be done. The UN’s Global Assessment of Soil Pollution report estimated pesticide use increased 75% between 2000 and 2017, with the global annual production of industrial chemicals is project to increase by 85% by 2030.
Earthworm Foundation CEO Bastien Sachet believes our continued partnership with McCain reinforces the collective dynamic strongly established in France around Earthworm’s work to create healthy soils. “By offering partner farmers support in their transition, McCain is accelerating the deployment of better practices for the soil,” he said. “Soil health benefits everyone, so we are pleased to see that it is at the heart of McCain's ambitions - healthy soils mean healthy plants, which means less pesticides and healthier food.”
McCain’s CEO Max Koeune sees the coming years as critical in making progress to protect the resilience of farms. “We must all contribute to growing food that will help feed the planet sustainably for the generations to come, and protect and sustain the livelihoods of those who grow that food. We have to start today, if the planet is going to be better tomorrow.”
With around a quarter of global emissions due to agriculture, land use and forestry, we believe improving soil health through regenerative agriculture practices is a vital way to store carbon and tackle climate change. It can also increase biodiversity, reduce pollution and maintain regular yields for farmers.
By driving regenerative agriculture practices in its supply chain, we are supporting McCain, along with other major players and their growers, to reverse the deterioration in soil health, leading with an example for others in the food industry to follow.