Category: Farmers First Tech

Kat Bruce – Going from putting insects in a food processor to raising $27M in 10 years and building the biggest eDNA biodiversity monitoring company

A conversation with Kat Bruce, founder of Nature Metrics , going from scooping insects with a small net and putting them in a food processor, to analysing the goo with an eDNA machine, to working with lots of large food corporations on measuring their biodiversity, food footprint, and impact.

How do you look back at raising 27 million dollars and spending 10 years building the biggest biodiversity measurement company using eDNA in a time where very few people care at all about biodiversity, let alone invest in measuring it. How do we analyse water at a catchment area to see what lives in that area? How about soil measurements for DNA at scale, and what about air sniffing and analysing? And why are the corporations only coming in in the last few years? Where are people moving, and what is still missing?

Scott Poynton – Crises drive change: stories from within the transformation of Nestlé’s palm oil value chain

A conversation with Scott Poynton, founder of the Forest Trust, now known as the Earthworm Foundation, about supply chains, environmental regeneration and addressing environmental scandals from the forests of rural Australia to his groundbreaking work with major corporations like Nestlé on no-deforestation commitments. Scott’s experiences in Vietnam’s Mekong Delta, Tasmania, and reforestation projects reveal the intricate balance between economic growth and environmental conservation.

Do you remember a few years ago Greenpeace released a video with a kitkat chocolate with an orangutan’ finger in it, which very clearly made the statement that much of the palm oil the Nestlé owned company were coming from deforested plots in Indonesia which were home to the orangutans? And before that, the scandal on teak garden furniture, which in the nineties suddenly a lot of European household had teak garden furniture on their balconies or on their terraces? A lot of that wood came from illegal logging in Cambodja smuggled over the borders by members of the Red Khmer and sold to furniture companies in Vietnam.

What do you do as a company when you are hit by a supply chain scandal like this? In both of these cases, the companies called Scott to help fix it. Not their public image, but the actual supply chain. Get traceability in, no deforestation rules and monitoring, social programmes, etc. Learn from the fascinating journey of this forester born in Australia who founded the Forest Trust. It’s regeneration, both socially, economically, and environmentally at scale, and learn why he is so excited about biochar.

Chris Henggeler – Standing on the shoulders of giants (Savory, Ingham, Provenza) and managing over 77000 hectares in remote Australia

A conversation with Chris Henggeler, a second-generation high-density, low-duration herder using herds for land management. From one of the most remote places in Australia, we explore big myths like many animals damage the land, to a huge question: can we actually put the new megafauna to work? Farms need to get smaller, and ranches need to get bigger. If you want to retire in security, you have a vested interest in healthy landscapes.

How do we invest as if our grandchildren mattered? How do we ground investing in ecology, and what human activity is restraining nature from building wealth? This and much more in the conversation with Chris.

Emiliano Mroue – Raising $7.5 million to scale from working with 20.000 to 100.000 farmers

A conversation with Emiliano Mroue, founder of WARC, about their recent funding round, being close to the farmers and why he left a corporate job in Germany to start a farmer focussed anti poverty company in Sierra Leone which turned into a company serving today over 20.000 farmers, mostly in Ghana, in the transition to more regenerative practices. What is their secret to be close to the farmers always, not quite often but always?

Smallholder maize farmers at the edge of the Sahara, brutal circumstances in the Sahel mean most farmers are growing to eat and to survive and, with climate change and current farming practices burn and deep tilling, their survival is literally on the line. These soils can be depleted in a decade or less, not like in the global North where we might have 50 to 60 harvests left. So how do you go about behaviour change with farmers that are in poverty, you want to help them to change, but don’t want to risk their fragile livelihood? How do you find the recipes that work in the local context?

In March 2024, the Ghana-based agricultural service provider Warc Africa has successfully closed its Series B round, securing $7.5 million. The fresh capital raised aims to boost Warc Africa’s reach to serve over 100,000 farmers in Ghana, increase their incomes, and protect the soils.

Chris Bloomfield and Daniel Reisman – We need animals outside to feed the planet sustainably

A conversation with Chris Bloomfield and Daniel Reisman, co-founders of Collie, a provider of virtual cow guidance system for managing production in grazing, about enabling regenerative dairy, how virtually fencing and cow guidance drastically reduce labour and boost production. To feed ourselves and the planet sustainably, we need to include animals as part of agriculture. We dive deep into going from vegan to grazing, animal welfare, and the state of our planet. How do we enable more farmers to hold complexity on their farms? How do we use technology to enable complexity instead of using technology to make everything mono, as we have done in the last 50 years?

Clint Brauer – After an investment of Chipotle, ready to scale his robots to weed hundreds of thousands of acres

A check-in interview with Clint Brauer, founder and CEO of Greenfield, company powering chemical-free agriculture with advanced AI-powered robots, about his dream to get chemicals and expensive machinery out of broad acre, row crop farming (AKA soy corn farming which currently occupies millions of acres around the world, especially in large industrialised agriculture countries), the ending of the era of the chemicals, and much more.

After interviewing Clint in September 2020, we check in on what has changed; farmers and many others in the space see that the era of chemicals is ending. It might not look like that yet, but we have already won: chemical-free, broad-acre farming is totally possible; now it is about execution. What else has changed? Is Clint still interested in integrating animals, and why has Chipotle invested in the company?

Alfred Grand – Why an Austrian farmer and researcher trained by earthworms is very excited about AI

A conversation with Alfred Grand, farmer at Grand Farm, an organic farm with a high proportion of research, about vermicompost and seed inoculation, but also what policymakers should know about farming. Plus, the role of technology in the regenerative transition. And why he is so excited about AI and robotics.
Dive deep in the story of a bike mechanic turned farmer and researcher, who has been trained by millions earthworms!

Sebastiaan Huisman – Farmers die slowly

A conversation with Sebastiaan Huisman, large-scale organic farmer and advisor, about consulting on many large farm transitions, including the British royal family and working with Wildfarmed. Why is he so optimistic about biodynamic, holistic, and regenerative farming, and why does it all start with children?

Picking apples on an biodynamic farm at age 12 led to setting up one of the largest biodynamic farms in Europe, almost 2000 hectares in Poland, on very very poor soil, Sebastian had an incredible journey from that Dutch farm to the creation of one of Europe’s largest biodynamic farms. As he shares his story, we’ll uncover the transformative impact of regenerative agriculture, not just on the soil but also on the very heart of the community.

Abby Rose – On raising non-extractive funding and the power of AI to help farmers with observation

A conversation with Abby Rose, co-founder of Vidacycle and Farmerama, about the role and potential of AI in observation, alternative investment, the power of transparency, why regenerative viticulture is so interesting, and more.

Why did someone who didn’t really need the money and had serious and reasonable questions about the tendency of startups, both in and outside the regenerative space, to keep raising money, ended up raising funding? Not in a traditional, potentially extractive way, but a revenue share, and service fee, and a cap.

Brett Hundley – From Tyson Foods equity analyst to financing millions of trees

A conversation with Brett Hundley, President of Agroforestry Partners (AP), a fund that invests in agroforestry projects on farmland with the strategy of providing uncorrelated and attractive nature-based investment opportunities for investors.
We talk about moving away from an agricultural system that relies on annuals to a system that relies more on perennial trees. If trees are the answer to whatever the question is, how do we get millions of more trees into the ground?

How do we finance them, and how do we make the key stakeholders, the farmers- that need to give agroforestry operators access to their land for 20 40 or maybe a 100 years- comfortable with these farming systems? How do we get comfortable with writing these checks the other essential stakeholder investors that need to pour hundreds of millions into an industry and a system they are not really used to, with long time horizons (chestnuts, for instance, take 7 to 9 years before they bare fruit but could produce for at least 50 or even hundreds of years)?