Innovation Pitch

Innovation Pitch

Innovation Pitch

The Innovation Pitch provided a platform for innovative projects, companies and start-ups dealing with the 2022 GFFA topic of “Sustainable Land Use: Food Security Starts with the Soil”. The objective was to make these new and pioneering GFFA-related ideas, trends and solutions from practice and research accessible to the interested public.

The Innovation Pitch featured a selection of particularly innovative concepts being presented and then discussed. The projects were from Zambia, Denmark, Austria and Germany. The event was facilitated and broadcast live. The 30-minute Deep Dive, which were held directly afterwards, provided an opportunity to ask the presenters about their projects.


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Farmer first – Cultivating carbon crops

Soil is one of our planet’s most important ecosystems – supporting all life on Earth. While 95% of our food is directly or indirectly produced from our soils, centuries of intense cultivation has already exhausted one-third of the planet’s arable farmland. Whereas conventional farming depletes soil and releases carbon, conservation agriculture encompasses a set of sustainable techniques to regenerate the soil in partnership with nature; allowing farmers to sequester carbon from the atmosphere, build and grow above ground biodiversity, and create a resilient farming system that produces nutritious food for a growing population. But farmers adopting regenerative practices that protect and restore soil has been held back, primarily by two factors: low operating margins and lacking expertise.

Enter in: the Agreena solution. Co-founded within the industry by visionary farmers and fintech-savvies, the Danish Agtech company created the first European farm-based carbon certificate platform to offer a financial premium to farmers focusing on sustainable techniques by connecting them to the voluntary carbon market. Using a set of core principles to regenerate soil, the company’s unique vertically integrated solution suggests putting the farmer first – backing with the knowledge, support, and incentives to implement sustainable ag practices at scale. The AgreenaCarbon product is based on a yearly harvest cycle, with the data capture process giving farmers the opportunity for payouts from year one. In this presentation, Agreena discusses how a carbon marketplace offering end-to-end integration for farmer-owned & controlled carbon certificates provides industry integrity and true impact outcomes.

In 2021, AgreenaCarbon has already proven success with more than 150 Pan-European farmers registering 50,000 hectares of farmland into the soil carbon marketplace. Initial results? 125,000 tonnes of CO2-equivalent reductions and €1M annual revenues secured – now, the company is initiating its larger mobilization of ‘Impact Farming.’

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Zambian – German Agricultural Knowledge and Training Centre

The German-Zambian Agricultural Knowledge and Training Centre (AKTC) is a project within the Bilateral Cooperation Program of the BMEL.

Since 2014 hundreds of farmers have been trained in sustainable mechanized crop cultivation methods and the reasonable use of agricultural inputs. Trainees range from market-oriented family farms to commercial farmers. Field trials and demonstrations accompany the trainings and deliver evidence about different cultivation methods and their effects, e.g. on soil quality.

The AKTC works with different methods, like ripping tillage, burning and discing as well as direct seeding and the use of cover crops. This allows economic and ecological comparison, which are both of importance to the farmers. All land plots cultivated by the project with modern sustainable methods show a significant increase in microbial activity and diversity due to adequate cultivation methods.
Direct comparison of long term trial results will allow the identification of methods the most suitable for the agroecological and climate conditions. In the upcoming years the AKTC will reach out to other countries in Southern Africa to share its findings; thus developing itself towards a regional competence centre for climate resilient agriculture.

The effects of climate change have been experienced not in Zambia alone but within neighbouring countries as well. Droughts have devastating consequences for both human beings and animals. This, therefore, calls for drought-prone Sub Sahara African countries like Zambia to find a lasting solution to overcome droughts. This has compelled the Agricultural Knowledge and Training Centre (AKTC) to go a gear up by implementing the climate-adapted farming methods (CAFM) project. The CAFM project seeks to address the effects of drought being experienced in Zambia through look-and-learn sessions. With the CAFM project, both the traditional mechanical conventional farming (MCF) and the mechanical conservation agriculture (MCA) are being practiced for the farmers to have a result-based comparison in order to make an informed decision on why AKTC wants farmers to adopt MCA practice. The 2019/20 season was the first year when the CAFM project was launched at AKTC, on 27ha. Crops grown under different tillage methods on the project were maize – staple food, soya bean – a cash crop, and a cover crop for the much-needed residue for soil improvement. Farmers from all sectors, from emergent to commercial, were invited continuously to witness different field demonstrations. The demonstrations included land preparation, planting and weed control management

CAFM aims to reduce the impact of climate-related revenue losses and ensure income for market-oriented farmers through the adaptation of climate-smart farming methods in Zambia through the practice of conservation agriculture (CA).

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Regenerative Farming Pilot Network

Starting in September 2021, Arla is establishing a network of pilot farms to provide insights and learnings about how to support Arla’s farmer owners in adopting more regenerative practices. By collaborating closely with farmer owners, Arla wants farmers to drive the evolution and implementation of what it means to farm regeneratively in the context of dairy systems and make them an integral part of agreeing relevant principles and practices for success at scale. These pilots will also create an opportunity for members to meet on farms and gain inspiration, share experiences and learn from each other. Arla will establish a network of pilot farms across Sweden, Denmark, Germany, Netherlands and UK.

Through this network we will:

  • Establish a multinational farmer-led knowledge exchange network
  • Provide all pilot farms with training and one to one support from regenerative agriculture industry experts to support them in getting started on their journey.
  • Measure, track, and document the impact of regenerative farming practices on pilot farm ecosystems
  • Understand and document any behavioural changes of pilot farm members
  • Build the understanding currently lacking in dairy production systems of what it means and looks like to farm regeneratively, learning within the context of a variety of management systems and countries
  • Share knowledge and learnings through roundtable discussions, case studies and project progress reports
  • Combine farmer knowledge with external experts to identify common regenerative principles and practices that could be adopted at scale by Arla farmers.
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Coalition of Action for Soil Health (CA4SH)

The Coalition of Action 4 Soil Health, developed in a multi-stakeholder approach for the UN Food Systems Summit will facilitate the adoption and scaling of restoration practices that improve soil health in productive landscapes through investment and policy action. Specifically, value-added proposition of CA4SH is to develop global coordinating and operating mechanisms and processes (including tools for monitoring outcomes across different scales) to guide and catalyze public and market-based private sector investments in soil health as a foundational and proactive response for addressing food and nutrition security, climate change, socioeconomic returns and growth, productivity, and rural livelihoods), biodiversity, climate and nature.

The CA4SH will be operationalized through different regional hubs that are able to support the specific needs and priorities of stakeholders in different geographies. Actions will include:

  • Convene public and private investors and develop stakeholder engagement approaches designed to guide investment into effective soil health actions.
  • Promote research and development that builds on current knowledge and methods for restoring and managing soil health and embeds science in farmer-focused solutions, alongside rigorous monitoring to support evidence-based decision making.
  • Coordinate with the many ongoing science-based initiatives – including those led by farmers – with knowledge and experience to provide mechanisms and guidance for linking investment decisions to soil management best practice.
  • Work with farmers and private sector to design economic incentives and support mechanisms to enable implementation.
  • Establish tiered national and global tracking mechanisms and systems to provide empirical and quantitative data to support a soil health investment framework.
  • Engage in public-private sector policy dialogue to ensure that an enabling environment for promoting soil health.

CA4SH will link with existing initiatives, including 4 per 1000, UNCCD LDN goals, Global Soils Partnership, Living Soils in the Americas, WOCAT, the Soil Health Initiative, RECSOIL, Soils4Climate, the Soils Investment Hub of WBCSD, as well as UNFCCC and CBD and UNFSS Action Track 5, Build Resilience to Vulnerabilities, Shocks and Stress. Together, CA4SH will function as a coordination centre and clearinghouse focused on achieving global soil health by developing a multi-stakeholder platform and bridging between different sectors (public, private, research).

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GRAND GARTEN, which is a segment of GRAND FARM for research and demonstration, is a market garden. A diverse range of fresh organic, seasonal and regional summer and winter vegetable and herbs are grown by hand and sold regionally. Even if the production is considered „bio-intensive“, aiming for the highest yield possible at the specific location, market gardening is protecting, even regenerating its resources at the same time. We use compost, mulch, cover crops and crop rotation, therefore we regenerate the soil. Because
we don’t use any mineral fertilizers and pesticides, we do not pollute the air and ground water table. At the same time, when we grow food and soil, we mitigate climate change, adapt to climate change and stop the loss of biodiversity. Compared to the SDGs, market gardening touches 11 out of 17 SDGs. Because we are a research and demonstration farm, we also cooperate with universities and research institutions from Austria, EU as well as the USA and Africa. And we grow people. In 2021 we had 16 interns from 7 different countries at GRAND GARTEN, which worked and lived with us for weeks or months each. Within app 120 events during 2021, we directly reached more then 2000 people.

We improve soil protection, when we permanently grow either cash crops or cover crops in our soil. We do not use any pesticides and mineral fertilizer, we do not compact through heavy machinery and when applying a transfer mulch cover we prevent water and wind erosion and increase water infiltration at the same time.
We restore degraded soil, when we use compost, mulch, cover crops and crop rotation. We grow a divers range of crops on beds, which are no longer compacted or treated by pesticides or mineral fertilizer. We restore degraded soils, while we use them. We restore degraded soil, when we use seed coating with the microbiome of earthworm compost.

We make the use of infinite land resources more sustainable, when we intensively care for them. We use them in a bio-intensive way, without degenerating the soil, but regenerating it.

Fair access to land is indirect easier to get with market gardening. Because of the intense production of high value crops, farmers do need only 0,5 ha to 1 ha of land to have a sustainable income, compared to other production systems, where farmers do need much bigger land.

At GRAND GARTEN, we try to combine the production of food with regenerating soil and other resources, while at the same time educating young people.
GRAND FARM combines production with research and demonstration and is choosing future proof food production systems such as agroforestry and market gardening. Such systems are established on the farm, evaluated by scientists, NGOs and other stakeholders and later on demonstrated to the society.

Let’s work together! It is the only chance we have to solve the problems we are facing as a society!

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At Gut&Bösel soil is the focus of all our work. We are 3000ha big farm with 25 employees located one hour East of Berlin focusing on agriculture and forestry while researching and developing different methods of regenerative farming to understand how to transform big scale agriculture in the future.

We truly believe that healing the soil with multifunctional land use systems can directly address the most pressing issues of our time – from climate change and loss of biodiversity to global hunger and health.
Therefore all our work is dedicated to benefit the soil and create healthy and resilient eco systems: Our innovations in agriculture and forestry range from mob grazing to compost, syntropic agroforestry, forest transformation and the development of new software and technology. Furthermore we are working on collecting data to understand the contribution margin costs and externalities of multifunctional agriculture – like biodiversity, carbon build-up, soil temperature, water absorption capacity and water storage capacity.

Our setup in Alt Madlitz of both long established companies, startups, involvement of universities and a newly founded foundation with a focus on research and education allows us to test, innovate, measure and scale these promising innovations for a sustainable food system.

Especially because of the challenging conditions, our sandy soils and low precipitation, we are faced with here in Brandenburg, we are convinced: what works for us, will work in other parts of Germany – and even the world. We therefor hope to develop a blue print of land use models for other farmers to use in the future.

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