Sustainability and Biodiversity

In 2021 British Apples and Pears launched its first ever sustainability report.

Authored by Professor Louise Manning, the report looked into sustainability practices in British apple and pear orchards.

It included survey data from farms representing 75% of the total top fruit growing area in the UK; and in-depth case studies to explore on farm sustainability initiatives.

It looked at energy conservation, waste management, working with nature and much more.

Here are some of the key facts:

92% of growers are implementing biodiversity measures in or adjacent to their orchard

93% use biological controls

83% work with beekeepers

64% of packhouses and stores generate their own energy

62% have wildflower leys on headlands

33% are not irrigating any area in their orchards

Growers are planning to plant 1.14 million trees in the next two years, increasing to 2.71 million trees over the next five years.

 

Biodiversity

Biodiversity is an important part of any good orchard. An ecosystem like an apple or pear orchard flourishes when a diversity of plant and animal life is encouraged.

British apple and pear growers use wildflowers, mixed grasses, regenerative farming and plant hedges to encourage biodiversity. They leave the orchard margins uncut to offer protection for wildlife and to encourage insects.

British apple and pear growers are also big bird lovers too. There are 493 bird boxes across 25 apple and pear farms, with 40% of those in orchards. And the support for biodiversity doesn’t stop there, British apple and pear growers are planting hundreds of metres of new hedges every year to provide shelter and food for birds and other animals.

 

Energy conservation

British Apple and Pear growers are focusing on improving energy efficiency as well as sequestering carbon and generating energy. They are:

  • Making more efficient use of nutrients
  • Investing in more efficient and effective storage temperature control
  • Using more electric vehicles
  • Automating fruit packing

In our stores and packhouses, energy conservation is being driven by more mechanisation and automation. This investment in storage and palletisation in stores and packhouses is a key strategy for British apple and pear growers and extremely important to us.

 

Water conservation:

Water conservation and careful water management are essential parts of sustainability in orchards. One third of growers surveyed are not currently irrigating any area in their orchards. Instead of using mains water, one third of those irrigating are using rainwater harvesting, 44% are using surface water (rivers and ditches) and 63% are using ground water. Furthermore, one third of the packers and storage operators said they had a closed water system.