IMPACT Awards 2023

Innovation/invention of the year: Nuveen Natural Capital Poland's nature positive farming initiative

Earlier this year, Nuveen Natural Capital Poland (NNCP) launched a new farmland management initiative that seeks to implement nature-positive farming practices for the benefit of nature, climate, and people.

Actions to support the Nature Positive Farming initiative, which was developed in conjunction with its farm tenants, include:

  • Improving soil health by introducing cover crops, four-crop rotation, and appropriate tillage to improve soil health.
  • Reducing water use and preventing pollution of water by reducing artificial fertiliser use, using buffer strips around water courses, and rainwater harvesting on buildings.
  • Monitoring and ultimately reducing greenhouse gas emissions through the use of the Cool Farm Alliance's Cool Farm Tool to measure baseline carbon emissions, followed by an emissions reduction strategy based on actions such as planting cover crops and reducing tillage.
  • Enhancing biodiversity by undertaking a baseline biodiversity survey, and developing a biodiversity enhancement strategy that could involve tree planting, enhanced meadow management, bird boxes, and bee-friendly measures.

In return for implementing these actions, tenants are provided with a longer-term lease contract. The farms are then audited annually to ensure the agreed actions are being implemented by the tenants.

Progress of the initiative will also be reviewed on an annual basis, measured against baselines taken of the four key pillars. It is hoped that widespread improvements could include increased organic matter, improved filtration rates, reduced run-off from soil into open water as well as an overall improvement in biodiversity.

Nuveen Natural Capital says through “a local presence and hands-on approach to land-based investing”, it strives to advance “best practices and help create sustainable production systems for food, fibre and timber”.

“Farming, climate, and biodiversity are the big frontiers we need to address as we tackle how to feed ourselves in a nutritious and regenerative way. Well done to Nuveen for recognising this and driving this Nature Positive Farming Initiative!” commented one IMPACT awards judge.

By the second quarter of 2023, farmland totalling 977 hectares was signed up to the initiative, with plans to sign up a further 4,500 hectares of farmland by year-end 2023. NNCP said it expects to roll out the initiative across its Polish farmland portfolio over the next three to five years.

Nuveen Natural Capital is a land-focused asset management platform with $12.4 billion of assets under management and over three million acres across more than 590 properties in 10 countries.