Soils worldwide hold three times as much carbon as our carbon-saturated atmosphere, and could hold much, much more, yet conventional farming dependent on fossil fuels and chemical fertilizers, herbicides and pesticides, is the source of about one-third of global carbon emissions. Agreena, a Danish startup, is working to help conventional farmers to transition to regenerative agriculture, which focuses on improving soil health and naturally sequesters carbon in topsoil, and to get paid by corporations that have pledged to offset their own carbon emissions. By quantifying the increased carbon in soils, those farmers have that would otherwise escape into our carbon-saturated atmosphere
Grit Daily caught up with Julie Koch Fahler, co-founder of Copenhagen-headquartered Agreena, to discuss the next era of climate friendly agriculture.
Grit Daily: First and foremost, can you tell us a little about Agreena?
JKF: Yeah, of course. Agreena is a Danish startup based out of Denmark that is working with farmers across the Pan-European market. We developed one of the first international soil carbon certification programs – essentially, we track soil cultivation practices in order to mint, verify and sell carbon certificates generated by farmers who transition from conventional farming to regenerative agriculture agriculture practices. By regenerating soils, farmers are actually removing carbon from the atmosphere and storing it in their soils – and we quantify that.
Grit Daily: What type of potential is there to make an impact?
JKF: A third of our global soils are degraded, costing over 10 percent of GDP through lost biodiversity and ecosystem services. But beyond that, rehabilitating agricultural and degraded soils can remove a total of 51 gigatons of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and raise food production by 17.6 megatons per year. Soils are our life-supporting resource. And carbon is the currency of our climate future.
On the farmer’s side, we are able to provide an additional revenue stream – and with tight margins, this new market is of significant interest for them. We have grown the number of hectares in our program ten-fold this year and are launching in seven new countries this quarter. With scale, the impact we are talking about for both the environment and farmers is tremendous.
Grit Daily: Your company has been referred to as the ‘farmer’s fintech’ which sounds like an oxymoron. Can you elaborate?
JKF: Put in other words – we are connecting farmers to the exploding voluntary carbon market. This way we incentivize and co-finance farmers transition to more sustainable practices. We built a tech solution that supports the farmers by encouraging them to easily upload data and make plans for their annual harvest cycle and adoption of regenerative agriculture practices. Then, we are tracking, monitoring, reporting using satellite imagery and remote sensing, coupled with soil sampling. We are essentially bridging what’s happening at the field-level of farms with advanced technology to allow farmers to enter the green economy. We are also steering toward additional fintech solutions.
Grit Daily: What are the other fintech solutions in store?
JKF: Carbon markets are just the start for us. We are now working in a EU pilot project related to sustainable blockchain, which has the potential to help scale up our business significantly. With partners, in collaboration with Danish financial regulators, we are essentially testing bringing the tokenization of carbon certificates to new finance instruments – such as green bonds. This could create a huge difference for scaling the growth of climate benefits to society, while also supporting the investment that needs to be made to accelerate the global agricultural transition.
Grit Daily: What’s behind the ‘Agreena’ name?
JKF: A greener agriculture.