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How AgriTech is key to reaching net zero food production:
Case studies

 
 
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Key challenges and how innovators are tackling them.

 

Agreed Earth
 

Founded:
2021
 



Founders:
Kelly Price
Sarah Power
Reed Walker
 



"Helping farmers transition to – and profit from – sustainable practises" 

 

How is it helping in the drive towards net zero?
We connect farmers to the resources they need to transition and profit. Satellite data for decision support is one element, but our real differentiator is harnessing the human element, as farmers learn best from other farmers. We’re harnessing and harvesting the extensive knowledge that farmers who have been doing regenerative practises already possess. We help to digitise and scale this knowledge so that others can utilise and benefit from it. And we’re rewarding the farmers who generate and share the knowledge.

How will agriculture and sustainability change in the next 2 years?
A revolution in agriculture is well underway. Farmers are hitting walls as productivity stagnates or declines while the price of chemical inputs continues to rise. At the same time, countries and companies are being pressured to decarbonise, and as agri-food/land use system is the source of a quarter of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions, it’s a natural target. These two tailwinds will be driving ever more movement towards – and investment in – sustainable agriculture and the companies that enable it.

What role will AgriTechs play in reducing emissions?
Sustainable agriculture’s role in fighting the climate crisis is two-fold: first, by helping farmers reduce chemical inputs, emissions will be reduced because those chemicals are very energy-intensive to produce/apply. Second, by no longer applying so many chemical inputs and (in many cases) reducing or no longer tilling the soil, we can allow the soil microbes to flourish again, thus adding fertility (carbon) back to the soil, turning it into a carbon sink. Thus, sustainable agriculture has a 2-sided emissions impact. The biggest role for AgriTech is in identifying what sustainable practises - or sequence of practises - lead to the best outcomes in certain situations. Whereas conventional agriculture is very simple – whatever problem you wish to solve, you simply apply more chemicals – regenerative/sustainable agriculture harnesses nature to solve problems, and nature is inherently complex. Thus, so is the dataset needed to predict outcomes. This will help farmers avoid yield drop, which gives them both a better return financially as well as the confidence that these practises work and they should stick with them.

 

ALVATECH Water Revolution
 

Founded:
2019
 



Founders:
Zac Gazit
Yuval Chen
 



"Enabling farmers to use saline water to grow crops and improve soil health" 

 

What does the business do?
Scarcity of water for irrigation and reducing soil fertility affects tens of millions of farmers worldwide. The salinity of both water and soil is also constantly increasing due to climate change. ALV TECH’s sustainable technology enables farmers to use saline water to grow crops and at the same time improve their soil health and reduce the amount of water and fertilisers they use. The devices are solar powered, chemical free and farmer friendly with no maintenance. The technology is principally of use in more arid environments than found in the UK. It is being used in 24 countries worldwide, including the cultivation of avocados in Israel, olives in India and grapes in Abu Dhabi.

How is it helping in the drive towards net zero?
Net zero involves reducing greenhouse gas emissions as well as absorbing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. ALV TECH technology reduces emissions by growing crops more efficiently and using solar power so machinery is used less to work the fields and pump water. It also allows carbon dioxide to be returned to the land by reviving soil health and improving soil biodiversity. Reducing water use is also a key element of sustainability.

What changes do you see in agriculture and sustainability in the next two years?
There will be a focus on increasing efficiency and improving resources management, including water usage, soil restoration and smart fertilisers. This will involve much progress with software and sensors – and also practices such as high-density crops, hydroponics, vertical farming and further moves to plant protein. Data gathering, analysis and proving impact in the field will be important, and more farmer-friendly formats and practices are required. Moves will continue to make solar and renewable energy an integral part of agriculture until it becomes the standard.

What role will AgriTech play in reducing emissions?
AgriTech is approaching net zero and sustainability from multiple directions and that is exactly what is needed. Companies like ALV TECH are enabling better use of existing resources along with reducing the need for ploughing and tilling. Using technology to gather and analyse information and develop special crop types will be important, as will controlling the growing process using greenhouses and hydroponics. Tech that enables improved soil conditions and carbon capture will also play an important role. It’s an important and exciting time for AgriTech.

 

Deep Branch
 

Founded:
2018
 



Founders:
Peter Rowe
Robert Mansfield
Bart Pander
 



"Using microorganisms to convert clean CO2 into high-quality ingredients" 

 

How is the business helping in the drive towards net zero?Deep Branch is a carbon dioxide recycling company. We enable global sustainable animal nutrition by using microorganisms to convert clean CO2 into high-quality ingredients.

How will agriculture and sustainability change in the next 2 years?The sustainability of animal farming and broader concerns regarding the reduction of emissions are two of the biggest problems of our time. By 2050 the world’s carbon emissions must be net-zero to avoid the increasing impacts of climate change, yet by this point, our planet’s population is predicted to increase by a third. With the average consumption of animal products increasing, it’s thought that the output of animal farming will have to double to meet demand. This means that we will need to see huge changes in agriculture to deliver sustainability.

What role will AgriTechs play in reducing emissions?AgriTechs will play a vital role. Of the total emissions associated with the average person, approximately one quarter comes from diet and the majority of those emissions are associated with animal products. Although at Deep Branch we recognise the best way to reduce dietary carbon intensity is to reduce meat consumption, we’re pragmatic in recognising that not everyone sees it this way. With a growing population and a limited amount of arable land, we can’t produce enough protein to feed ourselves or the animals that we eat with the current means of protein production. At Deep Branch, we’re tackling this problem through the development of Proton™, our singlecell protein. We have partnered with two multinational animal feed producers to co-develop Proton™-based feeds for use in aquaculture and poultry. Over the next two years, we’ll be scaling our output and working together to finalise feed formulations for an anticipated 2023 market launch. Rather than relying on the conventional protein sources of protein, fishmeal and soy, which are often shipped from South America, Proton™-based feeds can be produced from locally sourced ingredients with 90% less carbon intensity.

We believe innovation will only continue to move toward producing food sustainably, rather than cheaply, as initiatives and conversations about repairing the environment become increasingly important – meat, too, can move into a position where it is carefully grown. This is where we see AgriTech come in: developing innovations that can be used across the value chain to improve efficiency, profitability, and sustainability.

 

Recycled Crop Nutrients
 

Founded:
2020
 



Founder:
George Coldstream
 



"Processing industrial waste streams into fertiliser products" 

 

How is the business helping in the drive towards net zero?We are looking at industrial waste streams involving fertiliser nutrients, agricultural crops and animal waste. These waste streams are generally in the form of ashes that farmers cannot make use of. We are processing the ashes into granular and pelleted agricultural and horticultural fertiliser products that farmers and growers can then apply.

Many chemical fertilisers are imported and can be very expensive. Such fertilisers may not contain the wide range of nutrients that help crop growth and improve soil structures. The ash products that we are developing are multi-nutrient products with a range of benefits that make them a more sustainable choice. For example, power stations and anaerobic plants have been built in recent years with inadequate consideration of their waste streams. This results in ashes going to landfill. We are working with several operators to convert their waste streams into fertiliser products, helping both them and the agricultural end user achieve their net zero goals.

What changes do you see regarding agriculture and sustainability in the next two years?Subsidies are obviously going to play a key role. Farmers are now more concerned for their soil health as they transition to more sustainable farming practices. They are looking for more natural products that contain a wider range of nutrients that are going to improve their soil structures and crop health. This will enhance soil carbon storage while reducing carbon emissions.

What role will AgriTechs play in reducing emissions?Cutting edge AgriTech research, complemented by traditional facilities, is key in helping UK agriculture to become the most digitally enabled farming industry in the world. Achieving this will involve bringing all parties together.

How AgriTech is key to reaching net zero food production report
 

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