Digital application launched to give ‘innovative advice’ on steps to improve soil health

By Oliver Morrison

- Last updated on GMT

GettyImages/Luis Alvarez
GettyImages/Luis Alvarez

Related tags Soil soil health regenerative agriculture Biodiversity

The Soil Health Scorecard aims to address the challenges of innovation and sustainability in agriculture.

Unveiled by European agri-tech company ABACO Group and crop science organisation NIAB, the Soil Health Scorecard (SHSC) aims to support farmers and growers to better manage the health and productivity of their soil and the assessment of soil quality across the UK. This solution provides a database to record and analyse soil sample results and offers tangible advice to farmers on how to improve the quality of their soil.

The partnership arrives in a challenging period for the agricultural and farming sectors. As rising costs and soil degradation are creating an increasingly challenging environment for the UK’s agricultural sector, partners are leveraging technology and innovation to improve soil quality, productivity and in turn, sustainability in food production over the long-term. This collaboration will now be used by ASDA, Tesco, and McCain within their own supply chains.

The scorecard establishes an open, accessible, and data-driven solution that supports data collection and benchmarking for soil health. The application provides a way to measure the success of specific management practices and offers tailored advice to farmers on how to improve soil health.

The Scorecard will allow supply chain partners to fast-track the technology transition in agriculture and innovatively address key issues in food production. Through AI analytics, the scorecard is expected to transform the way farmers approach soil health management, and the collaboration among different players is a significant step toward sustainable and innovative farming practices.

Chris Brown, Senior Director of Sustainable Supply Chains at ASDA. "This platform is the first of its kind and will enable key stakeholders to monitor and improve soil across the UK. We believe it is a step in the right direction towards more sustainable farming practices."

The digital solution will help farmers improve the targeted and efficient use of nutrients, increase yield resilience, reduce the need for fertilisers, and provide better support for biodiversity. It will also provide a cutting-edge enterprise view and benchmarking of soil health within the Agri supply chain.

"This is the culmination of many years of research,"​ revealed Elizabeth Stockdale, Head of Farming Systems Research for NIAB. "We cannot overstate the importance of protecting the soil for generations to come, and the Soil Health Scorecard will help ensure that we do just that."

Natalie Smith, Head of Agriculture at Tesco, said: “Soils play a critical role in our natural environment, not just for food production, but for protecting and promoting biodiversity, improving resilience to flood and drought, and reducing our impact on water sources. Through existing initiatives such as the planting of cover crops and herbal leys, we and our supplier partners have made progress in improving soil health, but we need to do more. This innovative new platform will help farmers and the wider food industry monitor and improve the health of our soils, and we’re looking forward to trialling it in our supply chain.”

James Young, VP of Agriculture at McCain GB&I, said: “Given the challenges British agriculture is currently facing, the shift towards regenerative farming is vital to futureproof the industry. At McCain, alongside our farmers, we’re committed to implementing regenerative agriculture practices across 100% of our potato acreage by 2030. To achieve this goal, we’ve created a Regenerative Agriculture Framework, with minimising soil disturbance as one of its core principles. We’re delighted to be trialling the ground-breaking Soil Health Scorecard app, which we believe will be an important tool to aid progression in this area and support the adoption of more sustainable practices.”

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