A conversation with Johannes Scheibe, founder of Ruumi, a satellite grazing app, about financing land regeneration and how Ruumi works with farmers and companies to create the conditions for a better future.
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We know grazing can dramatically improve grassland and store massive amounts of carbon. There are great examples around the world from Gabe Brown in the US to Kenya, Australia, the UK, etc. But how do we get thousands of farmers/ranchers to change their grazing practices in the next couple of years? How do we use the exploding soil carbon markets and satellite tech to make this happen?
Finance isn’t enough to help farmers transition practises
Johannes argues that we need to understand what works and why it works, and the mechanisms behind growing grass and growing healthy grass. It is necessary to understand the exact characteristics of a given farm and get away from rulebooks. By systematically breaking down what works and why, we get the knowledge that goes into building the app, and we can also explain it to farmers in a good way.
‘Unforeseen things, different soil types, different grass types, you know, can really have a massive impact on your journey. So having a good consultant who understands the science behind sustainable farming, and how you can actually make it happen, and then help you implement it, that’s very important ́ – Johannes Scheibe
‘We create a transition plan where we figure out what can be done without jeopardizing operations. How fast can it be done, and then also, how many carbon credits would that be, how much revenue could you get from that, and what could they finance. So that we can say, this is your business case’ – Johannes Scheibe
The role of satellite and remote sensing in tracking agriculture practises
Johannes and his team are using two different types of satellite imagery. One is multispectral, which is really good at detecting biomass above ground and it also gives you some indication of moisture. That way you can figure out what is the dry part of the biomass, which is essentially what you need as a farmer to know how much you can feed your animals. That is combined with radar satellite imagery, which can penetrate clouds and it’s more accurate for seeing height differences.
‘We have a lot of measurement data from farmers about grass heights, historically, and current as well […] we built this model just for this purpose, to figure out how much grass you currently have.’ – Johannes Scheibe
‘For example, with this growth model, we can say, “Okay, your grass should grow this much every day currently”. But then suddenly, we see that your grass goes way faster. So that means we can actually say you put fertilizer on there. And we know pretty much how much nitrogen it was as well. So then we can say, “Okay, that impacted your soil negatively as well” ‘– Johannes Scheibe
Insetting vs offsetting
Rummi sells carbon credits, Johannes tells us that, technically anyone could buy these offsets anywhere on the planet, any kind of company or industry. Even though they want to make sure that these are companies, which can show a track record or that have some believable strategy for reducing their own emissions. They set the same type of pricing for carbon credits within the supply chain and the voluntary carbon market.
‘We pre sell these credits […] even though we only verify the emission reductions after they have happened, we can still convince buyers of these carbon credits that we will make them happen’ – Johannes Scheibe
‘You also have to the second kind of distribution channel, which is within the food supply chain and there you typically speak of insetting, because these carbon credits stay within the supply chain’ – Johannes Scheibe
‘Typically, they have goals for, “I want to reduce my emissions by 50% by 2030” and oftentimes, a lot of these emissions come from how the raw materials are produced, or the inputs are produced and that then comes down to the farmers, that means we need to reduce emissions for the farmers. But they don’t know how, so that means they actually pay us to onboard farmers and help them go through the transition plan’ – Johannes Scheibe
OTHER POINTS DISCUSSED
Koen and Johannes also talked about:
- Migrants, the elderly, and the way we farm;
- Regenerative grazing;
- Perfect food labels.
- Liz Carlisle’s book
- The Counter article on reckoning
- Book Freedom Farmers
- Soil Fire Farm
- Black Farmer Fund
- Heal Food Alliance
- Liz Carlisle – Let’s get real, regeneration is nothing new, so let’s honour the indigenous history
- Lauren Tucker, co-founder of Kiss the Ground helps the next generation of regenerative businesses to thrive
Feedback, comments, suggestions? Reach me via Twitter @KoenvanSeijen, in the comments below or through Get in Touch on this website.
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The above references an opinion and is for information and educational purposes only. It is not intended to be investment advice. Seek a duly licensed professional for investment advice.