The Heinz Global Agriculture Program (GAP) is based on the principle of creating a long-term farm management philosophy that is equally focused on productivity, environmental stewardship and prosperity. When these best practices are properly implemented, growers can expect their farming operations to become economically, environmentally and socially sustainable.
Our team of agriculture experts has travelled the globe as part of an extensive education initiative to share best practices and teach farmers how to grow tomatoes more efficiently and sustainably, providing not only significant health and environmental benefits, but also economic and social advancements.
Progress Against Agricultural Goals
Heinz has made steady and strong progress toward achieving our three key sustainability goals for agriculture.
Goal 1: Water Reduction 15%
Since 2005, the use of drip irrigation in California has grown to nearly 75% of total acreage from 30%. Approximately 60% to 80% of the tomatoes used by our tomato paste co-packers have been grown through the use of drip irrigation.
Our water conservation techniques have included:
- Developing hybrid tomato seeds, through natural selection, that require less water for each ton produced;
- Evaluating pressurized systems that enable more efficient and accurate irrigation, compared to surface flood or furrow systems;
- Analyzing water absorption rates, plant needs at each stage of growth and results of water testing tools, such as tension meters, soil probes and shovels, to observe moisture at plant root systems;
- Designing systems that eliminate water runoff and minimize evaporation;
- Testing irrigation systems for water application uniformity and variations in flow and pressure; and
- Developing procedures to regularly maintain and repair irrigation systems.
Heinz has encouraged the adoption of drip irrigation in tomato growing because it delivers the precise amount of water the crop needs, when it needs it, where it needs it, and thus minimizes irrigation waste.
Drip systems deliver water slowly and evenly to the root zone of each plant, and the grower can adjust rates according to changing crop needs. Alternatives such as overhead sprinkler or flooded furrow applications inevitably require more water be applied than the crops need to allow for losses from evaporation, surface runoff and leaching.
Other advantages of drip irrigation include:
- Less disease (foliage is not wet by the irrigation)
- Less fertilizer needed (can be injected into the irrigation water and thus delivered with maximum efficiency to the plant roots)
- Fewer weeds (buried drip systems don’t wet the soil surface), which minimizes chemical usage and tractor passes in the field)
Government research supported by Heinz Australia found that drip systems used about 50% less water than furrow systems and increased yield by about 30%.
Goal 2: Carbon Footprint Reduction 15%
Heinz teamed up with several global sustainable companies to implement the Cool Farm Tool, a program that will estimate the net GHG emissions generated from the agricultural process of different crops around the world. Developed by the University of Aberdeen, U.K., the Cool Farm Tool is a carbon calculator that farmers utilize to reduce total carbon emissions. This technology allows users to input data into an online, open-source spreadsheet program that will calculate their farm’s current environmental impact contingent on factors specific to each farm. The Cool Farm Tool provides farmers with the power to adjust these numbers to see the potential environmental benefits of applying different practices and new farming techniques.
Heinz agronomists started to educate growers to utilize the Cool Farm Tool in countries such as Canada, Italy, Portugal, United Kingdom, Poland, New Zealand, Spain and the United States.
Goal 3: Increase Yields by 5%
In fields where Heinz tomatoes are grown, the Company achieved its goal to increase tomato field yields 5% above 2005 (absolute) in the following areas:
California yield increases of 18% were driven by:
- Improved natural breeding techniques – HeinzSeed has a market-leading 47% share;
- Increased drip irrigation from 45% to 75%; and
- Strong financial returns, allowing growers to adopt best practices.
Chinese yield increases were driven by:
- Our growers strictly following Heinz Good Agricultural Practices;
- Direct involvement of Heinz agronomists;
- Increased drip irrigation from 40% to 100%; and
- Introduction of HeinzSeed.
Canada was already a high-yield area, further increases limited by:
- Irrigation limited to 50% acreage; dependent on erratic rainfall; and
- Humid climate faces greater disease pressure.
New Zealand's yield goal was achieved despite a challenging climate and no drip irrigation:
- Heinz agronomists worked closely with growers;
- Implemented HeinzSeed variety trials; match right variety for conditions; and
- Precipitation during growing season is common to region.
Portugal yield goals exceeded due to:
- 80% usage of HeinzSeed;
- Strong Heinz agronomy presence; and
- 100% drip irrigation usage.