Transforming the agricultural sector away from emissions-intensive and harmful, for both humans and the environment, practices is critical in a climate-neutral economy. One company called eAgronom is working with farmers to introduce sustainable carbon removal activities that also help them generate additional revenue streams and access better financing.
Since its beginning in 2016, the company has gained more than 2,500 customers covering more than 1.5 million hectares of farmland in Europe and has raised $14.3 million in funding from investors. We interviewed Robin Saluoks, eAgronom’s co-founder and CEO who explained how the company is adding value to its clients, its expansion plans, and what activities farmers can do to reduce emissions.
What is eAgronom and why did you decide to start the company?
eAgronom is an agriculture-focused climate technology company dedicated to organizing data and promoting regenerative practices among farmers. I come from a farming family but studied computer science. So I ended up building a Farm Management System in 2016 to manage the family farm. Fast forward to today and we have over 1 million hectares that are managed by it.
eAgronom did not have a carbon-related business model in mind at the time but we had something called a humus balance calculator already in the prototype. The goal at the time was not to make money with it but to promote soil-friendly farming. Later we found a matching business model that has proven to be a success.
What services do you offer to farmers to help them increase or adopt sustainable practices?
We believe that improving soils makes a lot of sense for farmers in the long run. In the short run, it requires investments and new knowledge. eAgronom is providing both. Our clients receive carbon credit income, value chain premiums, sustainable loans, and better interest rates. eAgronom works with many partners like banks, food companies, credit traders, and landlords to bring these benefits to farmers. Our role is to help farmers with practice implementation and provide software solutions for calculating and verifying CO2 sequestration.
How does the Carbon Program work?
Our carbon program follows the strictest principles developed in the market and is about helping farmers to sequester carbon in their soils. We start with an initial carbon consultation, followed by the development of a practical carbon sequestration plan. Farmers then adopt sustainable practices, which lead to the generation of carbon credits.
These high-quality credits can be sold, providing farmers with an additional revenue stream to support their sustainable transition. We are using a measure and model approach, meaning that all modeled carbon sequestration is further verified with physical soil sampling. Farmers also gain access to sustainable finance, improve their soil quality and can reduce their cost of inputs.
You offer sustainable loans support. Is that applicable to farmers in the EU or globally? How does it work?
Our sustainable loans support is primarily focused on EU farmers. We verify if farms meet specific sustainable practices and issue a Sustainable Farmer Certificate. This certificate allows farmers to access better loan or lease terms from our partner banks. It’s a step towards aligning agricultural financing with sustainable practices, providing financial incentives for farmers to adopt such methods. Today, we have been cooperating with Swedbank, the largest bank in Scandinavia, for over a year.
You also launched another project in 2021 called Solid World DAO. What are its goals and how does it complement your current suite of services?
Solid World DAO, spun out in 2022 to become an independent foundation. It aims to create an infrastructure for transparent and liquid forward carbon credits. Solid World DAO is completely separate from eAgronom but we cheer for them since they have the same final goal in mind – fight against climate change.
Can you give us some examples of sustainable agricultural practices that farmers can apply today with minimal costs to reduce emissions from their activities?
Farmers can adopt several low-cost sustainable practices like crop rotation, reduced or no tillage, and using cover crops to improve soil health. These practices help in carbon sequestration and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Additionally, precision fertilization and efficient water management are effective in reducing the environmental footprint of farming activities.
In my opinion, most farmers are capable of pursuing these changes. But they need support, information, and incentives. This is where eAgronom and others come in. Everyone needs to play a part if we are to curb carbon dioxide emissions, including the public sector.
How many hectares of agricultural land globally are covered by your Carbon credit program and how many clients have you worked with so far?
Our platform is about to hit 1.5 million hectares of farmland across Europe and Africa. That number is comparable with the total amount of arable land of several countries. To give you an idea, it’s comparable to the arable land available in Portugal or New Zealand, and greater than that of Austria, Uruguay or Ecuador. We have more than 2,500 farmers participating since we got started in 2016 and we’re constantly expanding our reach to include more farmers and land under our sustainable farming programs.
You recently announced major expansions in Eastern Europe and Africa. What are your future expansion plans? Do you have any milestones in mind?
Our work in Eastern Europe is super crucial for reaching the 4.1 million hectare target by 2025. eAgronom is going to be offering a pan-European solution by the end of the same period and targeting specific regions in East and South Africa. The good news is that we have already reached the 2023 annual target in November.
How do you see the future of sustainable agriculture going forward? How resistant are farmers to adopting such practices?
It is possible to reach climate-neutral and soil-positive food production – we see a clear path ahead of us! Farming is like any other production business but our “factory” is the environment around the farm. Bugs, butterflies, soil life – it is all part of the “factory”. Therefore, improving the environment around the farm will also help us to make food production more efficient.
We continue bringing more financial incentives to eAgronom clients and setting up field trials all around our markets. It is important to lead the way and visually prove to farmers that certain practices are possible and even profitable. We have managed to get over 1000 farmers to adopt soil-friendly practices and we are not slowing down!