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SBF GB&I, producer of Ribena, unveils a research project to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the growing of blackcurrants through regenerative farming practices.

The ambitious project launching today in collaboration with the University of East Anglia, SBF GB&I, Suntory Holdings Limited and Soil Ecology Laboratory will take place across much of the 60 hectares of blackcurrant production at Gorgate Farm in Norfolk, UK, which has been growing blackcurrants for Ribena since the 1950s.

As part of Suntory Group’s overall ambition to support crop resilience and reduce carbon emissions from its supply chain, this project aims to reduce scope 3 greenhouse gas emissions from blackcurrant production and improve soil health so that it can support plant resilience and increase the amount of carbon it can sequester.

The project will focus on minimising external inputs while improving soil health, plant nutrition and environmental protection through:

  1. Sap sampling to better understand and optimise blackcurrant plant nutrition – the theory being macro and micro-nutrient imbalances affect plant resilience and attack by pests and diseases
  2. Utilisation of novel and organic inputs (both fertiliser and crop protection) to replace conventional inputs
  3. Creation of diverse alleyway swards to feed the soil and increase carbon
  4. Improvements to soil health and carbon sequestration through the utilisation of compost extracts to restore soil microbiology

The pilot project will launch in April 2023, backed by investment from Suntory Holdings Limited for at least three years. However, it is hoped that the principles and learnings developed will lead to a step change in sustainable production not just in blackcurrant but for many other crops well into the future. Creating a blueprint that could support other growers as they start their regenerative agriculture journey.

The project will use the widely adopted Cool Farm Tool to quantify the on-farm greenhouse gas emissions and soil carbon sequestration. This will ensure accurate and consistent carbon reporting. The wider results it is hoped will be reported via peer-reviewed scientific papers charting the project’s findings.