Are plant-based burgers more about profit than benefiting the planet?

Plant Based Burger

ESUS Agri Ltd recently calculated that the base ingredient (pea protein) cost per kg for plant-based burgers is £0.16, a vast difference compared with the top-of-the-range beef burger at £3.55.

The most significant ingredient in the plant-based burger is water, 16% is pea protein.

The beef burger contains 85% beef, whereas water is a small ingredient in the beef burger.

The margin over the base ingredient for the plant-based burger is 99.7% compared to 66.4% for the beef burger.

It seems to us that profit is driving plant-based burgers more than concern for the planet.

We set out our calculations below:

Beyond Meat Burger
Plant Based Burger
Reds Original Beef Burger 284G
Retail Price
17.70 10.57
Base Ingredient Peas Beef
Base Ingredient % 50% 85%
Base Ingredient Price  £/kg
Ex farm
0.317 4.180
Base Ingredient Cost
0.16 3.55
Base Ingredient Costs
99.1% 66.4%
Ingredients Water, Pea Protein*(16%), Rapeseed Oil, Coconut Oil, Rice Protein, Flavouring, Stabiliser (Methyl Cellulose), Potato Starch, Apple Extract, Colour (Beetroot Red), Maltodextrin, Pomegranate Extract, Salt, Potassium Chloride, Concentrated Lemon Juice, Maize Vinegar, Carrot Powder, Emulsifier (Sunflower Lecithin), Beef (85%), Fortified Wheat Flour (Wheat Flour, Calcium Carbonate, Iron, Niacin (B3), Thiamin (B1)), Beef Bone Marrow (3%), Water, Onions, Seasoning (Sugar, Salt, Spices (Black Pepper, Ginger, Cumin), Onion Powder, Emulsifier (Diphosphates), Mushroom Extract Powder, Yeast Extract, Natural Flavouring, Antioxidant (Ascorbic Acid)), Brewed Shio Koji (Rice, Salt)
*Assumes 3.5kg peas to produce 1kg pea protein

Crop Trials of Diverse Winter Fodder – Good for Cattle and Wildlife

Farmer in field of crops

Less than ¼ mile from ESUS Agri HQ, on the farm of our neighbours JR, RA & RD Stanbury, in a new Innovative Farmers field lab, livestock farmers are driving new research into a variety of winter grazing crops to reduce feed and input costs while enhancing soil health and biodiversity.
The study’s objectives are to lessen soil erosion and provide habitat.
The farmers will contrast their customary winter forage, which consists of a single type of Brassica monoculture, with a diversified, 16 species fodder crop mix, which includes clovers, hairy vetch, ryegrass, spring oats, kale, and linseed.
In addition to supplying a nutrient-rich crop that supports animal health and performance, their objectives include reducing soil erosion and fostering natural habitats for wildlife during winter grazing.

Cost Saving

Farmers will cut down on feed expenses and the amount of time the herd spends indoors during the winter, many beef farmers plant just one brassica forage crop, such kale or fodder beet.
This field experiment will examine if a diverse crop’s increased biomass might increase farm resilience by safeguarding the soil structure. Benefits are anticipated to include decreased erosion and runoff as well as increased worm populations, infiltration rates, and water holding capacity.

Benefits That Extend to Farmers

The government’s upcoming transition to a new farm payment system and the new Sustainable Farming Incentives programme make the field lab’s findings potentially especially important as there is a growing emphasis on keeping the soil covered over the winter.

Extension of Arable Regen Ag

The benefits of diverse cropping have been well documented in arable farming context. In the livestock sector diverse grass mixtures went out of fashion as high-yielding varieties were bred that performed well when highly fertilised monocultures protected from pests and diseases with agrochemicals outperformed the traditional mixes and were much simpler to manage. The current hike in energy and fertiliser prices is renewing interest in diverse mixtures and work done in New Zealand, Germany and Canada confirms that new diverse mixes can outperform monocultures, improve soils and add to farm resilience.
Please check out the video presentation on our You Tube Channel

£120,000 capital grants available through DEFRA Countryside Stewardship

Shepherd herding his flock of sheep in a green meadow

The Countryside Stewardship (CS) scheme’s next application window is now open, giving more farmers and land managers in England the opportunity to plan while also receiving money for environmental activities and sustainable food production. There are four offers:

Mid Tier

Five-year agreements with a variety of alternatives for ongoing land management, as well as up to £120,000 for capital projects such as fencing installation. Acceptance is not guaranteed, but last year all our applications were accepted. The deadline is July 29, 2022.

Wildlife Offers

To assist farmers and land managers in protecting and preserving wildlife and the natural environment:

  • The Arable Offer,
  • Lowland Grazing Offer,
  • Mixed Farming Offer
  • Upland Offer

Guaranteed acceptance. The deadline is July 29, 2022.

Capital Grants

For specific environmental projects, such as:

  • Restoring hedgerows,
  • Planting trees
  • Installing hardcore tracks,
  • Roofing yards and silage pits
  • Fencing ditches and watercourses

Available year-round.

Higher Tier

Five or 10-year agreements to manage complex land in environmentally significant sites, commons, or woodlands that require support from Natural England or the Forestry Commission. Deadline: 29 April 2023. These agreements take a lot of preparation and should be considered well in advance.

Regenerative Farming

Countryside Stewardship projects can be used to ease your way into Regenerative Farming in several ways. You can get paid to grow:
• GS4: Legume and herb-rich swards
• SW6: Winter cover crops
• AB3: Beetle banks
• AB8: Flower-rich margins and plots
• AB15: Two-year sown legume fallow

ESUS Agri Ltd has the knowledge and experience to assist you in exploring the options and navigating the application and delivery process.


Esus Agri Ltd provides a free initial consultation to examine your farm’s application possibilities, explore choices, and advise you on rules and regulations. We use mapping software to create schemes that emphasize the most significant available possibilities, ensuring that every selection is appropriate for your farm. Then we produce an evaluation report with extra information, such as costs and financial returns. If you decide to proceed we will complete the application for you and deal with any queries from the RPA and/or Natural England.

Ongoing Management.

If you are already a part of a scheme or are contemplating joining one, we can assist you with the ongoing management. You can choose from our range of packages that range from keeping you on track with paperwork and management to getting your entire scheme mapped through The Land App and supporting you with day-to-day decisions.

Hello and welcome to ESUS Agri Ltd.

Group of Cows in a Field

ESUS Agri was incorporated in 1995, however we can trace our history back to 1969 to Harrison’s Fleming Advisory Services (HFAS) whose business we took over 1995. HFAS provided technical and management consultancy to large scale tropical plantations companies, governments, and development banks. HFAS was always at the forefront of sustainable and renewable agriculture, it was a world leader in biological pest control, the optimization of fertiliser usage and improving conditions for employees. HFAS Diversified into privatisation and was responsible for the largest privatisation of a plantation company in Africa.

ESUS Agri has built on the legacy of HFAS, whilst broadening the range of services and the geographical areas in which we operate, to encompass large scale cereal production in Eastern Europe. For 10 years we operated our own sheep and arable farm in North Devon, and since 2018 our focus has shifted from overseas work to our work in South-West England.

Brexit has brought change and uncertainty to farmers in South-West England. ESUS Agri has been operating in markets where change and uncertainty are the norm, we have the skills, experience, and techniques to help our clients survive and thrive.

3 Carbon Credit Myths Stopping Farmers Trading Carbon Credits.

Carbon Credit Myths

There are many myths currently being circulated about Farm Carbon Credits.

Antony Pearce dispels three of the myths

To learn more about The First Certified, Multi-National Carbon Payment Programme for Farmers in Europe check out our web site click the button below

Mixed Species Winter Grazing

Countryside Stewardship Scheme - Esus Agri Ltd

At ESUS Agri we are looking all over the world for innovations in Regen Ag that can be introduced into South West England. New Zealand farmers get no subsidies so they have to innovate all the time, and mixed species winter grazing is one such innovation.

This video from Quronsense NZ shows some of the exciting potential of multi-species winter crops and bale grazing for improving soil health, animal health, resilience, profitability and the well being of farmers. However these innovations are not silver bullets, they won’t suit everyone, and need to be adapted to each unique situation.

Regenerative Farming brings Big Savings and Carbon Credits

The Big Savings of No-Till

Analysis of the Groundswell Benchmarking Group results from 2020 harvest shows that No-Till Regenerative Farming more profitable than conventional tillage.

Average output per hectare is 21% lower

Variable costs are 18% lower

Gross margin is 24% lower

Labour and machinery costs are 32% lower

Net margin very similar – the Groundswell group achieved£27/ha, while those with conventional systems ended up with £7/ha

It is when we look at the investment per hectare that we see the big savings. In 2020 the Regenerative Farms had over £ 300 per hectare less at risk than the Conventional Farms. In 2022 the difference is likely to be in the region of £ 400 per hectare, imagine the effect of that on the overdraft!

Whilst the cost of financing £ 300 in 2020 was about £ 15 for most farmers, the change in financial gearing puts the farmer back in charge of his/her business, not her/his bank manager.

It is the Regenerative Agricultural Practices which sequester carbon and thus the Soil Capital Carbon Payments for more details follow this link of email JamesSiggs

To see the full Groundswell Benchmarking presentation follow this link

New Revenues from Soil Carbon Should Be Seen As The Cherry On The Cake Of Practice Change

Regenerative Farming

Following on from our last blog, we are looking at how to generate income from no-till beyond the savings identified in our last blog.

ESUS Agri is a partner of Soil Capital Carbon and works with farmers throughout South West England who are taking up the Soil Capital Carbon Offer. At present farmers have lots of questions about carbon schemes . In the last issue of Direct Driller Magazine (, Andrew Voysey, Head of Sales and Carbon at Soil Capital Limited writes about 10 questions farmers ask. He concludes:

“But new revenues from carbon should be seen as the cherry on the cake of practice change. Even more significant are the cost savings and operational resilience that can be achieved as soil health is continuously improved.

There are plenty of other questions that we field from farmers about the carbon markets and our particular programme every day. You should be full of such questions and you should do your due diligence carefully.

But with the right perspective on how to navigate the offers that are emerging, this does not need to be overwhelming or paralysing. On the contrary, an exciting world of new opportunity is emerging and there are plenty of reasons why it makes sense to get involved sooner rather than later.

But new revenues from carbon should be seen as the cherry on the cake of practice change. Even more significant are the cost savings and operational resilience that can be achieved as soil health is continuously improved.”

Download the article here


Soil Organic Matter Underpins Soil Health

Soil Carbon Soil Health

Famers have always understood that soil organic matter (SOM) underpins soil health. However, since the invention of the steel mouldboard plough and specialisation of farming, all too often, SOM is being destroyed faster than the soill can replenish it. Reducing cultivations, returning to diverse rotations and planting cover crops between cash crops can increase SOM, soil carbon, reduce costs and increase profits. Then there is the cherry on the top of Soil Capital Soil Carbon Payments.

To learn more about Soil Capital Soil Carbon Payments go to

To read Dr Tom Sizmur, Associate Professor in Environmental Chemistry at the University of Reading’s paper “Crops and Carbon Farming” presented at the AHDB Webinar “Cover Crops and Carbon Farming”which sets out how SOM accumulates and the means of increasing SOM and the benefits click on the download below.

Regenerative Agriculture Shifts the Paradigm

Regenerative Agriculture

A large part of my working life has been about paradigm change, either being subjected to paradigm changes or working with organisations to change paradigms, the mental images you have in your mind of the way things are ‘out there’ or ‘in here’.

As I participated in an agronomists’ meeting last week I started going back through my own farming experiences and related paradigm changes.

When I left my father’s rather traditional fam and entered the wider farming industry in 1977 it was a period of white-hot technical and financial change; plant breeding, chemistry and agricultural engineering combined to enable us to increase cereal yields by 50%, abandon centuries old crop rotations and grow cash crops where previously we could only grow grass. It was an exciting time, with little regulation and we did not heed the warnings as fungicides quickly lost their efficacy because new chemistry was being invented all the time.

I spent 15 years working in tropical agriculture, mainly oil palm, rubber and cocoa, across Asia and Africa. I had the good luck to start my career with PTPP London Sumatera Indonesia (Lonsum), a very progressive plantation company that valued its people and its natural resources; cover crops were mandatory, burning was forbidden, erosion was controlled, non-invasive weeds were allowed, and pests were controlled biologically. We were all very proud to work for Lonsum and our results were outstanding, looking after your people and the environment pays. I found this to be the case over the rest of my career.

I returned to farming in the UK to find that yields had plateaued, chemical usage had increased, weed and disease resistance to chemicals was escalating, more and more regulation meant options were being taken away all the time and famers were totally reliant on subsidy for their incomes.

In 2012, I visited Soil Capital in Belgium. It was mind blowing, what they were doing with cover crops was like being back in the tropics. When I took on the management of 16,000 ha in Romania in 2014, I called on Soil Capital for support. We already had a four-year rotation of wheat, oilseed rape, wheat/barley, sunflowers, we diversified this further, sold the ploughs, introduced cover crops, improved timeliness and yields went up by 50% in two years.

So where is my paradigm now? I recently read David R Montgomery’s books “Growing a Revolution” and “Dirt” ( Both books reinforce what I have learnt over the years: looking after your people, your environment, and your animals pays. This is reinforced from the findings of Groundswell Benchmarking summarised in our blog “Regenerative Farming brings Big Savings and Carbon Credits”(

I am sure that most farmers think that they are looking after their people, their environment, and their animals, this is what they do with the plough and chemistry, government subsidy gives them the illusion that it is working. However, an examination of profit margins in the John Nix Pocketbook for Farm Management ( reveals that the average farmer is losing money without the subsidy, and the subsidy will be phased out by 2028. The paradigm is shifting.

I am now focussed on farming in South-West England. Most farms have cattle and sheep, so are well placed to switch to regenerative agriculture, but it requires a huge paradigm change. Recently a son who wants to change to regenerative farming told me that his father had said “If I had wanted to do that, I would have done it 40 years ago”, the son has persisted and is being allowed to try regenerative farming on a part of the farm. The start of a paradigm shift.

A major issue is risks, these can be reduced using available resources. Moving to direct drilling requires a big investment, but there are experienced contractors throughout South-West England with a wide range of no-till drills ready which will enable farmers to try direct-drilling with minimal investment and a skilled operator. The risks and costs of the introduction of mixed species swards of grasses, legumes and wild flowers, can be reduced by entering a Countryside Stewardship Scheme.

In conclusion, my own paradigm has not changed. I believe with passion that to be successful farmers we must look after our people, our environment, and our animals to have a sustainable business. We must reduce our reliance on chemistry and rediscover the art and the science of regenerative farming. My mission is to help farmers in South-West England do this so that our grandchildren can enjoy a bountiful countryside, rich in nature and delivering wholesome sustainable food with vibrant rural communities where farmers are valued.