Cornish company which grows cauliflower for supermarkets changing ways due to climate change

  • Watch Charlotte Gay's report.

A Cornish supermarket grower is changing its farming techniques to conserve rainwater before the summer heatwave and protect itself against the harshening weather caused by climate change.

Riviera Produce has been farming near Hayle since 1870 and is one of the biggest food producers in the UK selling their Cornish cauliflowers and other vegetables the major supermarkets.

In order to adapt to the hotter drier summers and wetter winters, the team have been planting crops which have no financial value to sell on.

During the winter months 90% of the supermarket cauliflower stocks are grown in Cornwall. Credit: ITV News

David Thomas is the farm manager at Riviera Produce, he says these cover crops helps drainage and encourages worms so so when it rains "there's somewhere for the water to go instead of just running off the top".

He admits the "extreme" weather patterns of the past few years is making farming basic food crops harder than ever.

"This past summer we went about 12 weeks with no rain. Crops don't appreciate a long period like that. We're trying to trying to even out that those extremes by using the soil and the cover crop to do so."

Healthy soil has lots of worms which gives the land room to absorb rainwater Credit: ITV News

Managing Director of Riviera Produce David Simmons admits these changing weather patterns also come at a cost."These soils have taken thousands of years to produce and to see it run off into the road is heart breaking but financial suicide."

Statistics from the Met Office show a trend of temperatures in Cornwall are getting hotter and the duchy's generally getting more rain than ever before.

Last year a drought was declared, it was the hottest year on record, and South West Water brought in a hosepipe ban for households.

The trend shows an overall upward pattern of rising temperatures in Cornwall Credit: ITV News/Met Office
Statistics collected by the Met Office show the average rainfall has slowly risen since the 1840s Credit: ITV News / Met Office

Keeping up with the changing climate is vital for businesses like Riviera Produce to succeed with bigger implications over food security in the UK.

MD David Simmons says "If we can't produce it in the UK, it's got to be imported.

"Instead of having a cauliflower from Cornwall, you'd have it from Spain and we're very conscious at the moment with the issues with oil and electricity because we're not we're not in control of that.

"If we do the same thing with food, we could easily see the same issues. As soon as there's a problem with the supply chains coming in from abroad, the price will go sky high.

"There'll be empty shelves. And we should be encouraging more British food, because the more British food we can produce, the better food security we've got."