PepsiCo UK and Ireland has announced plans to cut carbon emissions and water usage across the farming of its core crops in the UK by 50% over the next five years.

In its first ‘Sustainable Farming Report’ published today (19 October), the parent company of Quaker and Tropicana has detailed a number of initiatives including new i-crop ‘precision farming’ technology, trials of low-carbon fertilisers, and plans to replace around 75% of PepsiCo UK’s current potato stock with varieties that will “significantly” improve yields and decrease wastage.

Richard Evans, president of PepsiCo UK and Ireland said: “Farming is in the DNA of our business – we rely on British produce every day and sustainable agriculture is essential to our future. In partnership with our 350 UK farmers, I’m confident that we will realise our aim to reduce carbon emissions and water used in farming by 50% over the next five years.”

I-crop, a web based crop management system, uses a computer programme for measuring carbon emissions on the farm. PepsiCo believes it will enable the firm’s 350 farmers to “monitor, manage and reduce” their water use and carbon emissions more “efficiently and effectively”.

PepsiCo is currently trialling i-crop in 22 UK farms. It will be rolled out across all UK farms in 2011.

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Andrew Clark, head of policy services of the National Farmers Union said: “As UK farmers we are well aware of the need to produce more food with less environmental impact. Only a long-standing partnership between PepsiCo and its growers will deliver the 50 in five target by investing in new ways of growing and storing crops to achieve this goal. But the reward is substantial: more productive and sustainable UK-sourced food will be a win-win for the economy and the environment.”

PepsiCo this month said it will place more emphasis on producing products backed by science as it announces plans to create a nutrition business unit to develop new products in a series of drinks categories.