Tesco has today (Friday, January 27) announced that it is partnering with five of its largest field vegetable suppliers to launch the UK’s biggest-ever commercial roll-out of low-carbon fertiliser.

The aim of the roll-out is to boost the UK’s food security and it is expected to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by up to 20% in its supply chain in the first year alone.

Eight fertiliser alternatives will be used across 1,300ha in the 2023 growing season, with plans to scale up to a minimum of 4,000ha in 2024 across Tesco’s field vegetable suppliers, the retailer said.

Six of the eight fertiliser producers will be manufacturing their products in the UK from material including food waste, chicken litter, fire extinguisher waste and algae.

A key aim is to the identify the most planet and cost-effective alternatives to conventional fertiliser.

Sarah Bradbury, group quality director at Tesco, said: “Delivering more affordable, sustainable food means finding innovative, new ways to grow basket staples like potatoes, salad vegetables and carrots.

“Fertilisers are a large source of emissions in farming, but high prices and uncertainty have made it hard for farmers to take advantage of low-carbon alternatives.

“We hope that by working with our suppliers, our learnings from this roll-out of low carbon fertilisers can prove their potential to cut emissions and demonstrate what it would take to scale up production in the UK.

“It’s vital we keep costs manageable for farmers facing the most challenging market conditions in a generation and help our customers to eat in a way that’s good for planet and pocket.”

Tesco said it also plans to introduce the low-carbon alternatives to other produce areas, including wheat and barley, where emissions linked to conventional fertiliser account for more than 60%, as well as grasslands in beef, dairy and lamb supply chains.

The first year of the roll-out will produce up to 70,000t of fresh produce, growing to 200,000t in 2024.

The initiative, Tesco said, is one of many innovations it is driving as part of its ambition to reach net-zero emissions across its value chain by 2050.