Lipton trials climate mitigation measures for tea growers in Kenya

Lipton Teas and Infusions will test climate mitigation measures in the Kericho region of Kenya. The trials are aimed at reducing nitrogen fertilizer-related emissions, which account for around 25% of the total emissions from the tea-making process.

The business will utilise drone imagery and mapping to improve crop management, and introduce precision farming and “high-throughput canopy phenotyping” that measures and monitors crop growth, yield and adaption, for various tea plant varieties.

The trials are being delivered in partnership with Cranfield University and with support from the UK’s Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) and UK Tea & Infusions Association (UKTIA).

Lipton’s chief research and innovation officer, Taisa Hansen said: “Combining our experience of tea growing with Cranfield University’s specialist research capabilities will enable us to identify the key innovations that this industry requires.

“We are moving fast because climate change will not wait. Our profound thanks go to BBSRC and UKTIA as, together, this multi-million-euro project will support the entire tea industry and further our mission to create value for all.”

Recorded emissions data will also inform a new tea typology led by the UKTIA, the Tea & Herbal Association of Canada and the Tea Association of the USA, which will enable tea producers to calculate their carbon footprint with greater accuracy, with results that are comparable across the tea industry.

The results of the trial will be used to inform Lipton’s Innovation & Technology Academy. The Academy, Kenyan Government and the University of Kabianga earlier this year, offers training and degrees on tea cultivation, harvesting, and processing.

Regenerative approaches

Lipton is the latest to announce trials aimed at boosting the climate resiliency of crops.

Following successful trials which reduced carbon emissions on farms by 15%, ADM and Bayer are expanding their jointly-delivered regenerative agriculture programme. Changes made to on-farm processes included reducing tillage, planting cover crops and companion crops, planning crop rotation and adopting organic and bio-based inputs to promote crop growth.

Now, ADM and Bayer will extend the programme to more oilseed rape farmers, plus additional crops including corn, wheat and barley. It will also be expanded beyond Poland to other markets in Eastern Europe.

Also in Europe, Heineken has received its first harvest of barley produced on land where regenerative agricultural practices have been adopted at scale. The brewing giant has worked with farming and food processing cooperative VIVESCIA, based in France, to support hundreds of farmers to adopt more sustainable farming practices.

By the time this year’s harvest was complete, some 200 farmers in the North-East of France were participating in the large-scale regenerative agriculture programme, representing around 25,000 hectares of land. Heineken and VIVESCIA are hoping to expand the scheme to 500 farmers by next year, and then 1,000 by 2026.

Closer to home, Chivas Brothers, a Scotch whisky business owned by Pernod Ricard, has unveiled plans to reduce the environmental impact of grain production and to safeguard crops from climate-related risks.

The business will work in partnership with agricultural merchant Scotgrain and malt producer Bairds Malt to help farmers continually improve their environmental sustainability practices and enhance climate resilience.

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