Belgian cooperative Vlaams Hoeverund and retailer Colruyt Group have teamed up for a pilot project on carbon farming.
The project will see the OKay and Bio-Planet owner joining forces with the Flemish cattle-breeders' cooperatives to fix carbon in the soil through innovative measures.
Colruyt Group will provide inspiration, advice, and financial support, while the farmers get down to work on creative crop rotations, among other things, to complete the initiative.
The test project is co-supervised by Inagro, the retailer added.
Vlaams Hoeverund is a cooperative uniting Flemish cattle farmers since 2019, with the goal to bring high-quality beef to the market.
Since its inception, cooperative has worked closely with Colruyt Group on two important pillars – quality and sustainability.
Soil with good organic carbon content are more resistant to erosion, have a better water balance, and are more fertile.
It also provides better protection against drought or flooding.
Carbon-rich soil works like a sponge, as it retains water better in dry conditions and lets water through better in wet conditions.
Franky Coopman, soil consultant at Inagro, said, "Carbon farming means taking carbon out of the air and ‘storing’ it in the soil. There are several innovative techniques and smart applications for carbon farming, from organic fertilisation and more diverse crop rotations to agroforestry.
"We are also exploring the possible revenue models that can be linked to this in our Belgian agricultural sector, but we have also noticed that incentives for active soil management are sometimes lacking."
Colruyt Group And Vlaams Hoeverund Cooperation
Vlaams Hoeverund has been working for a long time on making cattle farming more sustainable, for example, in terms of circularity, and developed an interest around carbon farming as well.
In addition, as a retailer providing thousands of customers with fresh food on a daily basis, the retail group aims to incorporate sustainable agriculture practices.
Geert Hanssens, expert in agriculture at Colruyt Group, added, "Colruyt Group mainly aims to achieve a sustainable movement; we want to provide that 'spark': we help look for solutions, techniques and crop rotations that also offer added value for farmers."