Co-op said its farmers were laying a network of ‘bee’ roads throughout the UK to support pollinators and promote bio-diversity.
First year figures of the retailer’s environment-impact measurement tool, Enviro-Map has revealed farmers have a network of hedgerows long enough to stretch from London to Lisbon.
Caroline Morris of Manor Farm, which is part of the Co-op’s Beef Farming Group, has planted wildflower margins around the field boundaries on her Buckinghamshire farm.
She said: “The wildflowers look fantastic in the summer and they have certainly increased the number of butterflies on the farm.
“Our neighbour, who produces honey, has found an increase in production since our wildflowers have been in place so there has clearly been an increase in the number of bees in the area.”
Enough to stretch from London to Lisbon
The same size as occupied by Los Angeles International Airport
Around 16 tennis courts
Enough to fill 140 full size football pitches
Co-op also said renewable energy was a major focus for the 400 farmers who have taken part in the self-assessment programme, with 20 million kilowatt hours of energy being produced every year – enough to power 5,000 homes.
Nearly 80 per cent of farms export the equivalent of the electricity they consume with over two-thirds favouring solar panels and 16 per cent opting for wind turbines.
Matt Hood, Co-op’s trading director, said: “The need to create a more sustainable approach to farming and food production is just as important as producing high-quality, fairly-priced food and we can only achieve this with regular and reliable measurement of our producers.
“We are delighted to see that in year one alone, they are already offsetting their farming practises by contributing heavily to improved biodiversity levels which are so utterly critical to the air we breathe and the water we drink.”
The Co-op’s Enviro-Map was a three-year project in association with Alltech E-CO2 to chart the environmental impact of its farming groups, aiming to improve on-farm efficiency and reduce carbon footprint in a cost-effective way.