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Sustainable Agriculture

Our work in sustainable agriculture

Tate & Lyle’s sustainable agriculture programmes focus on the agricultural raw materials where we believe that we have the most opportunity to make a positive impact: stevia and corn. We work with farmers to improve their environmental stewardship and positively impact the communities where they live and work.

Following the acquisition of Sweet Green Fields in 2020, we launched a stevia grower outreach pilot programme in Dongtai, Eastern China in partnership with Earthwatch and Nanjing Agricultural University. The focus of the programme is to improve farmer’s environmental stewardship and livelihoods through education and changes in farming practices. Today, the programme continues to expand among our suppliers.

In 2018, we partnered with Truterra™, the sustainability business of Land O’Lakes, one of America’s largest farmer-owned cooperatives, to develop a sustainable agriculture programme that uses cutting-edge technology to enable farmers to more effectively target and measure the impact of efforts to protect the environment. In 2019, this first-of-its-kind programme expanded to 1.5 million acres of corn (equivalent to the acres of corn we procured in 2019) and was recognised as largest registered continuous improvement project to date. Field to Market: The Alliance for Sustainable Agriculture, is a US-based collaboration extending throughout the agricultural value chain focused on providing opportunities for continuous improvement in environmental outcomes. Today, 100% of the corn and corn-based ingredients that we procure are enrolled in the programme.

Programme results and highlights

The programme has been running for three years and continues to support 1.5 million acres, more than 22,000 fields and over 1,800 growers.

 

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In spite of the challenges that the pandemic posed to the agriculture sector, our first year-on-year progamme results show that farmers have been helped to achieve modest environmental improvements on retained acres*.

  • Greenhouse gases were reduced by 2%, the equivalent of removing 2,430 cars from the road in one year.
  • Soil quality has improved slightly as measured by the Soil Conditioning Index (SCI), while topsoil erosion reduced by 1%. SCI is a tool used to gauge organic matter levels in soil, which is an important metric as organic matter is a primary indicator of soil quality, the capacity to sustain plant productivity. Soil organic matter is an important factor in carbon sequestration, the long-term storage of carbon dioxide, and efforts to tackle global climate change.
  • Nitrogen use efficiency measures the efficiency with which soil nitrate-N from fertilizer, crop residue, manure, and soil organic matter, is converted into grain-N. Nitrogen use efficiency continues to be considered advanced within the industry at 0.93 pounds of Nitrogen per bushel; a 1% increase from 2019.

 

*While we have 1.5 million acres in the programme, we report results from ‘retained acres’ which are those acres that were in the programme in 2019 and 2020. Retained acres in 2020 were 1.24 million, representing an 86% grower retention rate, which we believe speaks to the value our partners see in the programme.

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Supporting Sustainable Stevia

Following our acquisition of the stevia business, Sweet Green Fields, in November 2020, we launched a stevia grower outreach programme in China in partnership with NGO Earthwatch and support from Nanjing Agricultural University.

Reviewing the first results from our Sustainable Agriculture programme with TRUTERRA LLC

Anna Pierce
Sustainable agriculture is incredibly important to us. We believe we can have the most impact by building partnerships with members of the value chain and key stakeholders – for example by supporting growers as they continue their regenerative agriculture journey. I’m proud of the work we are doing in this area.
Anna Pierce
Director of Sustainability
Learn about our other sustainability commitments for 2030: