ABACO, ASDA, Tesco, McCain Foods, and NIAB launch digital application to address the challenges of innovation and sustainability in agriculture Giulia 15 May 2023

ABACO, ASDA, Tesco, McCain Foods, and NIAB launch digital application to address the challenges of innovation and sustainability in agriculture

The Soil Health Scorecard provides innovative advice on steps to improve soil quality.

ABACO Group, a European leading Agri-tech company, ASDA, Tesco, McCain Foods and NIAB have partnered together to launch a digital application aimed at improving the assessment of soil quality across the UK. This unique 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, all partners chose technology and innovation to improve soil quality, productivity, and in turn, sustainability in food production over the long-term. This collaboration led Abaco and NIAB to develop the Soil Health Scorecard (SHSC) which will now be trialled by ASDA, Tesco and McCain within their own supply chains.

For the first time in agriculture, 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.

Antonio Samaritani, CEO of ABACO Group stated that “ABACO has found ideal partners to foster innovation and sustainability in agriculture and farming. At ABACO, we put Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) concerns at the forefront of everything we do, and finding partners who are completely aligned with these objectives has made this a natural fit for us.”.
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.

“We are thrilled to be part of the launch of this digital soil health scorecard,” said 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,” commented 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, commented: “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.”

About ABACO Group
ABACO is a leading player in the development of software solutions for management and control of land assets. With offices in Italy and Great Britain, ABACO designs and manages innovative solutions for agriculture. Thirty years’ experience have enabled the company to anticipate the needs of an evolving market and to become the trusted partner for some of the most crucial stakeholders in agro-industry and government who face the challenges of sustainable development, traceability, and productivity.

About ASDA
Founded in the 1960s in Yorkshire, Asda is one of Britain’s leading retailers. Dedicated colleagues serve customers from a network of stores and online services, including supercentres, superstores, supermarkets, Living stores, petrol filling stations and depots across the UK. More than 18 million people shop with Asda every week.

About Tesco
As a leading multinational retailer, with more than 345,000 colleagues, Tesco aims to serve customers every day with affordable, healthy, and sustainable food.

About McCain
McCain Foods is the UK’s largest manufacturer of frozen potato products, employing over 1,300 people across five processing facilities and a dedicated seed potato business. We are the largest purchaser of the British potato crop, buying around 15% of the total market from 250 growers, some of whom have worked with us for three generations. McCain is committed to implementing regenerative agriculture practices across 100% of our global potato acreage by 2030.

About NIAB
NIAB is the UK’s fastest growing crop science organisation, with rapidly expanding research capabilities in plant genetics, agronomy, farming systems and data science, the largest national field trials capability, and strong research links with industry, Government, and academia. With headquarters in Cambridge, and regional offices across the country, employing more than 400 people across the UK, NIAB provides scientific research, technical services, and practical advice to improve the yield, efficiency and resilience of crop production across the arable, forage and horticulture sectors.