2023 wrapped: The power of our people

December 20, 20238 Minutes

2023 wrapped:
The power of our people

Agreena’s rapid growth in size and maturity is a testament to this year’s strategy having the right focus, capacity and direction. Our CEO, Simon Haldrup, reviews the successes of 2023 and sets the scene for the year ahead.

Two million hectares. That’s about the size of Slovenia or around three million football fields. It was also the targeted number of hectares Agreena needed to hit in 2023 to meet our scaling ambition and to sow the seeds of sustainable change in agriculture across Europe.

It’s with great pride that I can say ‘mission accomplished’ for the team. We announced our two million hectare milestone last month, with well over a thousand farmers sequestering carbon across 17 countries, making us the leading soil carbon programme in Europe.

This was just one of many milestones in 2023. Another was achieved in March, when we raised €46m in a Series B round, just a year after our €20m Series A round. Led by one of the most successful growth investors in Europe, HV Capital, the round featured an exciting range of new investors, as well as the support of existing shareholders.

A few months later, we announced our second annual early payout to participating European farmers – paying the largest incentives to farmers under a soil carbon programme to-date and demonstrating that carbon farming delivers true economic benefit to farmers on a consistent annual basis.

COP28 collaborations

Agreena has also achieved many significant corporate partnerships in 2023. The appetite to work with us was particularly clear at COP28 where we encountered a huge range of stakeholders interested in our solution for mobilising funds to support farmers, while scaling carbon removal.

We signed a MoU with UAE agribusiness Al Dahra at COP28 and announced the first of our partnership projects together: transitioning the largest consolidated arable farm in the EU to regenerative agriculture. More than 55,000 hectares of arable land on the Al Dahra-owned Agricost Braila farm in Romania will be part of the AgreenaCarbon programme, sequestering carbon and reaping the financial benefits of doing so through the voluntary carbon market.

We also played a key role in establishing the International Soil Carbon Industry Alliance (ISCIA) – another collaboration that was announced at COP28. ISCIA is an alliance of 15 companies that are coming together to advance climate change mitigation through soil carbon sequestration. It’s an exciting development that demonstrates the growing role of soil carbon in the carbon removal toolkit.

Broader recognition

In panel after panel on World Soil Day at COP28, I saw the same message repeated: we must act now and mobilise agricultural communities worldwide. The moment to transform agriculture, rejuvenate soil, store carbon at scale and feed billions of people sustainably has most definitely arrived.

As this is becoming more widely understood, Agreena’s leading role in achieving this transformation is being acknowledged. In November, we were grateful to receive the Social Entrepreneurship – Future Impact Award at this year’s EY Entrepreneur Of The Year in Denmark. While looking ahead, we’ve made the shortlist of the edie Awards, in the ‘Net-Zero Innovation of the Year’ category – further recognition of the pioneering steps we are taking to radically transform agriculture and deliver on the soil carbon promise.

Our work is rooted in taking the necessary climate action to safeguard future generations, while continuing to feed a growing population, and it’s immensely satisfying to have our success in achieving this acknowledged by others. But, we’re not resting on our laurels!

Digging deeper in 2024

In 2024 we plan to diversify and expand our offerings, using our leading monitoring, reporting and verification (MRV) technology to support farmers, while also providing supply chain solutions and financial services offerings.

For organisations with agricultural value chains, emissions reductions can be challenging, given the inherent complexity of the global food system. Mobilising farmers who are present in multiple geographies to decarbonise and sequester carbon has presented many companies with operational and technological challenges. Agreena will be working with partners to demonstrate the power of our product and technology to address their challenges and we’re excited to share more with you early in 2024. Just as we are excited to introduce our high integrity nature-based carbon credits to the market, bringing farmers and funders closer together and making regenerative agriculture a reality for generations to come.

Driving deeper into Europe will continue to be a top priority for us in 2024. We’ll expand into more central European countries, while accelerating our efforts in existing geographies, such as France and Germany. We’ll also start to mobilise outside of Europe, to deliver a seismic transformation of the agricultural sector.

To achieve this, we’ll remain completely committed to farmers, who sit at the heart of everything we do. Agreena exists to ensure that regenerative farming is good business for the farmer and to demonstrate beyond doubt that it is always better to be a regenerative farmer. This has not changed, and will not change.

Team building

We will also continue to build the team. Only a year ago, there were 100 ‘Agreenians’; today there are over 200 of us. We’ve eschewed the ‘just in time’ approach to hiring – preferring instead to build our teams fast, starting with the senior leadership. Hiring and onboarding the right people in the right way is the greatest gift you can give to your company and we’ve been super focused on doing this.

I’m incredibly proud of the work we’ve done over the past year and grateful to be part of such a diverse and enthusiastic team – a team that wants to be the change they see in the world. Our pledge for 2024 is to continue to meet our sky-high ambitions, with action firmly rooted in the earth.

Let me take this opportunity, on behalf of everyone at Agreena, to wish you a joyful, restful holiday season and we’ll see you in 2024!

December 20, 2023By Simon Haldrup, CEO8 Minutes

Carbon Farming Success Stories: Sakari Niittymäki

October 18, 20238 Minutes

Carbon Farming Success Stories: Sakari Niittymäki

Located southwest of Helsinki between the cities of Tampere and Turku lies Koivikon Tila, a 160-hectare farm that has been in Sakari Niittymäki’s family since the 1950s. It’s a crisp, bright spring morning, and Sakari’s children are home on a bank holiday. They play outside while he takes a moment to speak to us about farming in Finland – the harsh winters, his neighbours’ curiosity and why he believes the future of farming has a lot of potential.

Regenerative by accident?

“I actually have a degree in chemical engineering,” Sakari laughs when asked if he has a formal farming education. “But I’ve never used it. Farming runs in our family and so I’ve been doing this since 2010. My father even helps out, still. He can’t seem to settle into retirement,” he smiles. They grow an assortment of crops, mainly seeds for organic farmers, on Koivikon Tila, which is a relatively large organic farm compared to the Finnish average. “We raise winter wheat, rye, clover, flaxseed and various grass seeds,” informs Sakari. “No livestock.”

Sakari confesses that he started employing regenerative practices into his farming methods almost by accident. “There were a couple of years where we didn’t do any tilling in some of our fields and I really noticed the difference, especially when compared to our neighbour’s fields,” he remarks. The lack of soil disturbance, Sakari says, elevated the fields much higher than that of Koivikon Tila’s neighbouring fields directly adjacent, indicating better soil health.

Carbon farmer in the field
Implementing regenerative practices by accident can yield pleasant surprises with regard to soil benefits.

Why stick with regenerative farming?

“We decided that the change we saw was a significant enough reason to adopt the practice of reducing our soil disturbance in other fields. It’s only been a couple of years since we started carbon farming and already we see a change in the soil,” Sakari affirms. “The fields aren’t as worn down as they used to be, so now we try to avoid tillage and plant cover crops as much as possible. Almost every field has cover crops this year.”  Being organic farmers, Sakari and his family must now contend with weeds as their most challenging obstacle. “We can’t use any herbicides, so it can be a bit of a struggle in getting the upper hand,” he admits.

When asked what his neighbours think about his carbon farming efforts and whether they’re more sceptical or supportive, he leans toward the latter. “Our neighbours are always curious about what we’re doing. They wonder about the weeds and what will happen next, but they don’t think that what we’re doing is ridiculous or impossible. On the contrary, I’d say that they’re much more supportive than sceptical.” 

Like the rest of the farming community around the world, Finland is becoming more and more acclimated with the benefits of carbon farming through the growing amount of information being communicated in publications and online. “I got started with Agreena because of an ad I saw,” Sakari shares. “I started to dig around a bit, you know, started uploading some of my field data onto the AgreenaCarbon platform. And before I knew it, my profile was nearly complete. So here I am today and nothing has been reversed, apart from a small reduction in yield that I attribute to our organic farming methods more than anything else.”

Carbon farmer and his machinery
Sakari saw enough improvement in the soil quality to implement regenerative practices in all of his fields.

Government-funded programmes that help promote the regenerative practices associated with carbon farming have also been on the rise as of late. In 2017, for example, Baltic Sea Action Group launched Carbon Action – a long-term collaboration aimed to bring farmers, researchers and companies together to promote regenerative farming and benefit food production, the environment and the Baltic Sea. The collaboration is funded by Sitra, a government-backed organisation directly accountable to the Finnish parliamentary system. “There is more and more government support for this type of farming every day,” maintains Sakari. “We have new national and EU policies in support of carbon farming and the financial support is at an all-time high, so now is a good time to transition.”

Carbon farming challenges in Finland

But farming in Finland can also be a challenge due to the long winter months of snow and frost on the ground. “It’s always a challenge with catch and cover crops because we don’t even know what’s going on under the snow,” Sakari concedes. “On top of that, what happens here in the south can be much different than what farmers face in the country’s north. Finland is a long country, after all.” This is one of the reasons Sakari would like to see more interaction between not just Finnish farmers, but between farmers from all over Europe. “I hope to have more exchanges with Agreena programme farmers in the future to find out what best practices work for them, what crops they’re harvesting … things like that really interest me,” he reveals.

Carbon farmer standing in the field
Along with the government support and new EU policies, the financial benefits carbon farming provided made it a good time to switch to regenerative practices.

Although the Agreena programme is still quite new to Sakari, he believes that it’s definitely a step in the right direction. “With the climate crises constantly in our faces these days, it’s good to know farmers can show that they’re doing their part to help with the backing of environmental and economic support from programmes like Agreena as well as national and EU directives,” he says. When asked what he’ll do with the money he’ll earn from the programme for his efforts, Sakari shrugs. “It’s still too early to tell; we might spend it on cover crop seeds or machinery. We’ll have to wait and see.”

One thing Sakari is sure of is the future of farming in Finland for his family. “Right now we’re focused on what works in our individual fields. What might work in one field might not work in another, so I’m excited to see the outcomes,” he says. “But the future of farming has a lot of potential. We’re an industry that’s always needed, so we’re not going away anytime soon.”

October 18, 2023By Wesley Mitchell Spyke8 Minutes

Get in touch

Do you have any questions about Regenerative Agriculture? We love talking to our users and others with interest in Agreena.

Regenerative farming can’t afford to fail

September 11, 202311 Minutes

Regenerative farming can’t afford to fail

Most of us in the regenerative farming and food production industries have heard the UN claims or have seen documentaries like Kiss The Ground, which warn us all that, unless we turn from our wicked ways and adopt more climate-friendly farming practices, we’re on a collision course with catastrophe.

Though this may sound like a bit of an exaggeration the current World Bank statistics confirm this dire prediction, stating that the agriculture sector accounts for nearly 30% of all global greenhouse gas emissions. And with other sectors already devoted to abating their emissions, that percentage could increase in the near future. So who’s responsible for the climate threat agriculture is yielding? Well, the easy answer is of course farmers, whose activities have been singled out as having detrimental effects on the environment. Prolonged and persistent droughts, loss of biodiversity and soil health, global food insecurities and the 250,000 deaths per year expected to follow as a result of climate change – it all contributes to a worldwide blame game that often places farmers in the sights of those demanding something be done to curtail these cataclysmic projections.

The need for a regenerative farming double yield

For decades farmers were, and still are, encouraged to produce greater yields in order to feed the planet. Now, in addition to that, they’re being required to green up their act in order to combat climate change. But these dual demands present a myriad of risks for farmers, who already face low profit margins and limited room to invest due to factors such as price volatility, increased input costs (e.g. buying new equipment, rising fertiliser and fuel prices) and extreme weather. These factors all contribute to a higher yield risk and, when combined with peer pride and a lack of know-how, not only make transitioning an economic burden, but tether farmers to the barriers of the status quo.

The pressure to become both food saviour and climate hero finds many farmers searching for a double-yield solution that ensures both environmental and economic concerns are assuaged.

Farmers often need help and incentive to make a green transition.
The dual demand to feed the planet while simultaneously making a green transition present several risks for farmers.

Soil carbon programmes are part of a green transition, not a silver bullet

Due to agriculture’s massive, natural carbon sequestration potential, transitioning to more climate-friendly practices is key to unlocking a climate-neutral future. Offering sustainable farming incentives for this green transition can provide significant mitigation potential that delivers substantial co-benefits to both farmers and society.

Soil carbon programmes, which encourage the employment of several regenerative practices, are a way to provide a double-yield solution. A recent report from Europe’s National Academies of Sciences shows evidence that a transition to more regenerative practices holds promising keys to reducing climate risks and increasing biodiversity, while at the same time sustaining the growing global population with food.

But that’s only part of the solution. Because, while regenerative farming practices do in fact enhance mid- to long-term operational excellence, climate resilience and farm profitability, farmers still need a financial hand to help them initially transition away from conventional agriculture to the regenerative practices that play a significant role in improving yields while driving carbon reductions and removals. Because, while it’s estimated that this transition can result in a 15-25% 10-year ROI, there’s likely a transition period of 3-5 years or more where farmers will experience a decline in profits due to the risk of lower-than-expected yields.

Carbon sequestration produces a double yield – environmentally and economically – for farmers.
Farmers need a financial hand to help them transition away from conventional agriculture to more regenerative farming practices.

“Soil carbon programmes shouldn’t be seen as a silver bullet,” says Simon Haldrup, CEO of Agreena. “Nor should they be seen as created equal. They should be considered on the merit of their interoperability with other support schemes, such as financial and insurance institutions, food companies and distributors as well as the effectiveness of their digital tool offerings.” 

When combined with other support schemes, soil carbon programmes can indeed be a vital part of the solution to reduce world hunger, carbon emissions and farmer scepticism. But farmers need more than just promises from these programmes before they move.

Cover crops – good. Crop waste – bad.

Regenerative farming practices – reduced soil disturbance, use of organic fertilisers, and optimal use of cover crops and residue management – that encourage carbon sequestration are a step in the right direction. But it must be emphasised that even though carbon sequestration is the only way to reverse historical carbon emissions, we also need to cut carbon emissions, otherwise regenerative farming will be a fruitless endeavour.

In addition, we need to dramatically reduce our crop waste. It’s estimated that roughly a third of all the world’s food is lost or wasted – that’s a staggering statistic. Of that total, about 35% is simply tossed in the bin by supermarkets, shops and households – much of which is still perfectly fit for consumption.

Regenerative farming helps reverse historical carbon emissions, but we also need to cut carbon emissions
Soil carbon programmes should be considered on the merit of their interoperability with other support schemes.

It goes without saying that all this food has a carbon footprint, so wasting it has an enormous impact on the climate. Transforming manufacturing byproducts and repurposing imperfect produce for human consumption, prolonging the shelf life of grocery products, reclaiming surplus restaurant food for those experiencing food insecurity and composting consumer food waste are all viable solutions that can help further combat the global food crisis.

Measured proof more than mere promises

Soil carbon programmes entering the voluntary carbon market offer enormous opportunity, but they also have a serious obligation to increase market transparency and maturity of carbon removal and climate-based assets. “This means delivering a high level of scientific rigour and reliability that creates trustworthiness and value for farmers to offset their transition costs,” Simon explains. “It means abolishing greenwashed claims by properly vetting corporates looking to pay a premium for carbon credits in order to achieve their sustainability goals and increase their brand value.”

One programme that takes these obligations seriously is Agreena – one of the world’s first internationally accredited soil carbon certification programmes. Agreena takes a farmers-first approach to the food and climate crisis by helping farmers finance their transition to more climate-friendly practices. The programme insists on robust third-party verification to ensure optimal transparency, is aligned to the United Nations IPCC guidelines, and quantifies emission reductions and removals according to Verra’s VCS methodology VM0042.

Agreena takes a farmers-first approach to regenerative farming by providing sustainable farming incentives to those looking to make a green transition.
Soil carbon reduction plans can play a vital role in reducing world hunger, carbon emissions and farmer scepticism.

All data is quality assured via physical farm visits, algorithmic analysis and satellite technology to confirm that real-world, nature-positive outcomes are realised to the highest environmental integrity. Based on this, Agreena can deliver nature-based carbon removal certificates that are fully traceable and of the highest quality.

Sustainable farming incentives flexible enough to not fail

“Each farmer has a different way of working, and no one knows what their fields need to grow and thrive better than they do,” notes Simon. “So when it comes to soil carbon programmes, it’s crucial that participants are offered the flexibility and incentives to transition at their own pace. Whether you’re a farmer looking to grow your profits or a company looking to achieve your net-zero goals, it all comes down to making it as easy and as beneficial as possible to do business with Agreena. Because, at the end of the day, we’re all in this transition together – farmers, companies and society. We really can’t afford to fail.”

There are currently over one million hectares across 17 markets contracted to the Agreena soil carbon programme, which has successfully paid out its farmers over the past two years. There’s no hassle to join, no binding commitment and participants pay nothing until they’ve received their carbon certificates. Companies wishing to support farmers’ green transition and reach their own net-zero goals can be certain that the certificates issued have had the claimed effect, meaning that there can be no double claiming of the emission removal/reduction nor can the certificate be sold more than once. All issued certificates are retired upon purchase.

Sign-up is now open to all farmers for the 2024 harvest season. Learn how you can join Europe’s most reliable soil carbon programme by calculating your earning potential today.

September 11, 2023By Wesley Mitchell Spyke11 Minutes

How scale-ups like Monta prioritise climate in growth strategy

August 16, 20239 Minutes

How scale-ups like Monta prioritise climate in growth strategy

Decarbonisation may be the first step in the journey to a sustainable way of life on earth, but it’s also just the first step in a path that is still being laid.

Even software companies that are ahead on emissions mapping, like EV-charging platform business Monta, are learning that the process is still messy and, in a race against time, progress is better than perfection.

In our latest interview with ambitious, proactive companies putting the climate agenda first, we speak with Monta Head of Growth, Dragos Petria, who is leading the company’s carbon footprint tracking and ESG reporting efforts.

We dive into how the team is improving the quality of its reporting, learnings along the way and how cases like the Redd+ furore suggest we need to find a balance between cynicism and pragmatism in our industry if we want to bring everyone over the line in time.

“In our minds, it’s better to get started on this process sooner rather than later. With reductions being the first and optimal goal, you first need to measure. Because if we don’t know what our emissions are, there’s nothing we can do.” – Dragos Petria, Monta Head of Growth

Getting started > getting it 100% right

Even for software companies like Monta, which typically have a relatively ‘simple’ carbon footprint, mapping emissions is not a straightforward process.

The fact that companies are doing this for the first time, a lack of centralised climate data within organisations plus a reliance on third parties means there is some necessary guesswork involved for now.

So what should be the focus amid the short-term realities of building a young, fast-growing company?

Monta chose to prioritise gathering high-quality data from the biggest carbon centres to begin with. In their case travel is the biggest category, so they spent time drilling into detail here, for example, calculating miles travelled per flight across the entire business rather than the simpler metric of cost per flight.

On the other hand, they decided not to spend too much time (for now) figuring out the impact of 15kg of cucumbers ordered for the Christmas party or tackling the challenge of nailing exact impact of electricity and heating consumption in a shared office space.

That said, they have been able to precisely calculate the consumption for their Copenhagen headquarters. They’ve also made educated estimates (again, for now) for shared spaces in London, Berlin, Oslo and Paris. Hopefully, in time, third parties will get better at sharing information.

With all that in place, Monta can now begin improving data gathering across all categories: business travel, employee commuting, suppliers, transportation, waste, cloud servers and in-person events.

Dragos sees this as an iterative process that will only get stronger as they build internal systems to refine reporting – ultimately enabling them to make climate-positive decisions that will scale the business into a sustainable future.

“I would still like to improve our data gathering. For these bigger carbon centres, we put in the extra effort where it was of course feasible, but there’s a limit to how much you can go into detail,” says Dragos.

The most important thing is getting started.

Short term v long term

The nature of young, fast-growing companies like Monta, where the headcount more than doubled over the course of 2022 and continues to climb, means making long-term targets can be difficult.

Monta is still digesting the findings of its emissions mapping and is figuring out what targets make most sense for its business. To mitigate that in the short term, however, the company voluntarily offsets 16 tonnes of carbon per employee annually, double what they estimate each individual’s footprint to be.

The company’s offsetting includes a mixture of reduction and capture: direct air capture, carbon cure concrete mineralisation, afforestation, Redd+ projects and industrial emissions capture.

Dragos says that since Monta is offsetting more than it consumes, on an estimation basis at least. He wants to focus on improving the quality of offsetting measures the company is investing in, which it does through Patch, a platform that helps companies access the voluntary carbon market.

In a market where not all credits are created equal, companies like Monta want to make sure they’re spending money in the right places.

“We’re already offsetting about double what our footprint is. So for me, in the short run and since we’re technically offsetting more than we’re consuming, I would rather improve the quality of the offsetting,” he says.

In praise of pragmatism

The quality of carbon credits remains a hot topic, coming under fresh scrutiny earlier this year after an investigation into the credibility of Redd+, one of the cheapest and therefore most popular types of carbon credits.

Although he says he himself baulked when he read the headlines and immediately started discussions with Patch to understand the implications of the investigation and get their expert recommendations on immediate action, Dragos believes the subsequent (over)reaction across the industry suggests that we need to find balance – in a culture where both ‘green’ and ‘greenwashing’ labels are easy to throw around – if we truly want to make progress.

We should be able to scrutinise the credibility of individual projects without poisoning the entire system and double down on developing the technology for quality assurance instead of shutting everything down.

“It was disappointing to see some of the people I trust in our industry jump on the hate train very easily. We should always contest and scrutinise these things, but we shouldn’t give the middle finger to all Redd+ projects,” he says.

“A system as big as that can be improved rather than completely torn down; you’re throwing away something people have been working hard on for 20 years. And people forget this is just not easy. Even with modern technology, it’s not easy.”

There is a danger that slamming companies like Delta, which invested a big chunk of its climate budget into Redd+, might end up putting off businesses in their decarbonisation journey.

“My thought was: even if they’re in the wrong, even if you work for a company that used those low-quality types of offsets, you very likely meant well. Let’s keep that in mind,” says Dragos.

Get started

Among the companies we speak to furthest along in their journey to carbon zero and beyond, the consensus seems to be that they feel like they have only just begun and the road remains long.

While every company’s journey is different they have more in common than they don’t, and we believe that there’s great power in sharing field notes along the way. There’s a lot we can take away from Monta’s pragmatic approach to decarbonisation: focusing energies on the biggest carbon centres in its business, improving the quality of short-term offsets while putting long-term changes in place and finding a good balance between optimism and cynicism.

Thank you to Dragos for taking the time to share your learnings as part of our Fieldnotes series – sharing inspiration, tactics and learnings from ambitious, high-growth companies that are putting the climate first.

August 16, 2023By Jonas Maltha9 Minutes

Talking ketchup effect and climate with Ragn-Sells CEO

August 9, 20237 Minutes

Talking ketchup effect and climate with Ragn-Sells CEO

We know that decarbonisation is just the first critical step in a long journey towards true sustainability, and that real progress means challenging our established way of life.

For a waste, recycling and environmental services company like Ragn-Sells, sitting right at the heart of how we consume things in society, that change starts now. While the company aims to be CO2 positive by 2030, its ambitions go further.

In our latest interview with ambitious, pro-active companies looking beyond 2030 to lead their industries into sustainable futures, we talk to CEO Massimo Forti about balancing deep, long-term change with short-term decarbonisation goals and the road to changing global consumption habits.

“You can’t just have a scope in reducing CO2, you also have to push the entire circular economy. We have to change the entire society so that it is resource instead of waste focused. And we can.” – Massimo Forti, Ragn-Sells Denmark CEO.

Resource-focused society

Ragn-Sells is framing its sustainability agenda within the bigger goal of bringing systemic, societal change. Forti tells us the company’s primary goal is to help drive change from a waste-focused to a resource-focused society.

Put another way: instead of getting better at handling waste, we should try to eliminate it and move towards a more circular economy. Part of that needs to come from bottom-up pressure: demanding from suppliers that you want to buy recycled material in the first place, for example.

Of course, establishing trust in the process and transparency in the lifecycle of materials will be critical to driving this shift.

“Society needs to trust that waste is handled correctly in order to be able to trust that, once you have waste, you can put it in a new product. You can only achieve it if you are a hundred percent transparent in all your processes and what you do with the waste,” says Forti.

In order to walk the talk, the company has set a goal that 50% of everything it purchases – from pens to trucks – will be made of recycled material by 2030.

Forti says the company spent around a year and a half defining its baseline and will soon have a result it can work with. But, as with all companies that have started mapping their activities are experiencing, there remains some guesswork.

He anticipates the process will get easier as more suppliers get into a position of being able (and willing) to share information. Forti compares it to the ketchup effect – a situation where not much happens at first, but then a lot happens all at once.

“I hope there will be a kind of ketchup effect. Now we are really pushing the agenda. We are informing all of our suppliers that that is our goal and then hopefully we will find suppliers willing to join our journey,” says Forti.

“We also use it in order to influence our customers because we would like all of our customers to have it as a requirement. So they have to add value in their tender process on recyclability.”

Pricing challenges remain a barrier

Forti is confident Ragn-Sells will successfully hit emission targets. For him, the bigger challenge is helping facilitate the shift to a resource-focused society. His team is working on influencing legislation that will make it mandatory to include recycled material in all products. But again, there are challenges.

Firstly, things get complicated when we talk about the ‘re-use’ of a component or tool, like with equipment versus a material. If you want to recycle recycled material to use in new products, you need to prove it has been detoxified. Making this process simple, safe and easy to adopt is something Ragn-Sells is working on right now.

Then there is a cost issue. Like most other commodities, virgin plastic made from oil is low cost because the externalities (i.e. the carbon footprint) are not included. Recycling, on the other hand, requires up-front investments. It’s difficult to expect suppliers to choose a more expensive recycled material if there is a cheaper virgin alternative.

In general, in the shift from fossil fuel-based practices to green alternatives, there is also a question of prioritisation. Ragn-Sells is developing technology to reduce waste-related emissions in society, but in order to do that the company needs to invest heavily in new technologies, which actually will negatively impact its scope 1 and 2 emissions.

“Meanwhile we are going through the electrification of a lot of vehicles or yellow machinery, but technology-wise, it’s not ready yet and the price for doing that is double compared to fossil vehicles. Unfortunately, there is not yet a willingness to pay for that in society,” says Forti.

“So that’s why we need to find the right way. It’s not a problem only for ourselves. It’s a problem for the recycling business.”

Balancing long and short-term needs

Bringing meaningful change to our relationship with materials will require a marathon not a sprint. With time running out, however, it feels like an impossible choice between focusing on 2030 goals and investing in the world we want to live in after that. The answer likely lies somewhere in the middle.

Thank you to Massimo Forti for being part of the conversation and for sharing notes from Ragn-Sells Denmark’s sustainability journey. This is the latest in a series of interviews with ambitious, pro-active companies looking beyond 2030 targets to lead their industries into a sustainable future. Check out the rest of the series to get inspired by peers on similar journeys to you.

August 9, 2023By Jonas Maltha7 Minutes

Warming bells: Time to future-proof farms for overheating

August 8, 202311 Minutes

Warming bells: Time to future-proof farms for overheating

It’s that time of year again: warmer months with longer days, plenty of vitamin D, and summer cereals are growing nice and tall, painting the fields shades of green and gold. Exciting signs that months of hard work are finally paying off. But in recent years those fruitful signs of summer harvest have become synonymous with worry and dread, with the world having hit its hottest week on record this July according to preliminary figures from the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO).

Studies reveal a troubling reality across Europe: 61% of soils are in an unhealthy state with soil degradation from the loss of soil organic carbon (53%), the loss of soil biodiversity (37%), and the risk of peatland degradation (30%). This lack of soil health further hinders yields through erosion, runoff, and reduced water retention during droughts and floods also made more frequent by climate change. Those environmental impacts are also accompanied by economic loss as depleted soils lower plant performance, impacting profitability and wasting fertilisers.

The necessity of taking action to grow in harmony with nature now to maintain yields and profitability for farmers can no longer be turned down as “tomorrow’s problem”.

Field of sunflower grown regeneratively in Romania.

In Poland, where the country has one of the lowest water resources in Europe, more frequent droughts and steppe formation is becoming a reality. At the beginning of June, the Institute of Fertilization Cultivation and Soil Science found agricultural drought in nine voivodeships, with extreme drought prevailing in parts of the Mazowieckie, Wielkopolskie and Kujawsko-Pomorskie voivodeships, as well as in many places in the Podlaskie and Warmińsko-Mazurskie voivodeships. According to the data of the Polish Economic Institute, the largest average annual yield losses occur in the province of Wielkopolskie, Mazowieckie, Kujawsko-Pomorskie and Lubelskie voivodships and concern in particular, the cultivation of cereals and oilseeds.

In Romania, last year, drought caused losses of over 1 billion € for the Romanian agricultural sector, with 800,000 of the country’s 5.4 million hectares of crops being impacted. In total contrast, this spring it just hasn’t stopped raining in Romania causing delays​​ in spring planting operations and added unpredictability when it comes to yields.

But also in Scandinavia, the signs of global warming are starting to be felt with the Danish Meteorological Institute (DMI) having issued a level 2 alert for “dangerous weather” (on a scale of three) for the province of Jutland, due to the heat wave expected this summer with temperatures that could exceed 28ºC. For example, the 2018 summer drought in the Nordic region reduced cereal yield by 40%–50%. Challenges are being amplified by the uncertainty and the expected long-term effect caused by climate change’s impact on hydrological variables like precipitation, temperature, and soil moisture.

However, in the face of this challenge, agroecologist Nicole Masters offers a thought-provoking assessment; “The drought-flood system is not (only) due to climate change, but due to management”. In short, we find ourselves with a challenge in the face of more frequent extreme weather events. But also a key opportunity to build resilience in farming systems to harness the power of nature rather than fight with it – maximising co-benefits and minimising risks on farms.

Time to future-proof farms for overheating.

Heat resistant crops

As droughts are becoming more frequent and severe, some crops known to be more resilient to extreme weather and heat are helping farmers combat water scarcity while ensuring resilient yields. One of those crops is millet which is often referred to as a climate-resilient crop because it can grow on arid lands with minimal inputs and maintenance, is tolerant or resistant to diseases and pests, and is more resilient to climate shocks than other cereals. Another is durum wheat, a variety which may appeal to growers in the East as it performs well in hotter, drier climates.

Regenerative agriculture

While the climate crisis is making rain patterns more erratic and unpredictable, experts encourage people to look not up to the sky, but down at the ground.

Regenerative farm systems are designed to work in harmony with nature, while also maintaining and improving economic viability by following three key principles:

  • Minimal soil disturbance
  • Permanent soil cover – either by a crop, a cover crop, or crop residues
  • A varied crop rotation

Regenerative agriculture has many recognised natural and financial co-benefits ranging from reducing soil erosion, increasing soil organic matter (SOM) and improving biodiversity, to
reducing fuel consumption due to fewer cultivation activities, and reducing the need for expensive fertilisers by preventing runoff and improving nutrient cycling. But it also can improve water-holding capacity and resistance against flooding and droughts.

Speaking to the Food Tank, Roland Bunch, Founder and CEO of Better Soils, Better Lives tells that soil organic matter (of which carbon is the main component) is a critical component of water storage.

“The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) estimates that for every 1 percent increase in organic matter, the amount of water available to plants increases by 25,000 gallons per acre.”

Hear it from the farmers:

Hans Poulsen is employed with JD Agro Cocora – one of the leading agricultural companies in Romania. Cultivating 17,000 hectares across three counties, JD Agro Cocora has been using no-till technology on its fields since 2018.

“We realised pretty quickly that soil moisture was really important in these climate conditions,” explains Hans, “so we adopted practices that disturbed the soil as little as possible.” “But I guess it really began before that with the heavy drought we experienced back in 2012. That’s when we said, ‘Okay, we need to do something different’.

In Constanța, where we’re farming in more hilly areas, we can also see a significant difference in how the soil absorbs water when it’s raining,” he says. “If we have heavy rainfalls in our fields, there’s almost zero runoff compared with the neighbours’ fields, which are ploughed. And we have big rains, their soil is running out onto the roads. It’s very clear.”

Richard Davey farms 1600ha in South Oxfordshire regeneratively – including 488ha in an Agreena soil carbon programme.

“Cover crops help cut leaching from the soil because it is not left bare. The soil is in even better condition, increasing absorption of rainwater and hopefully will become more resilient when we have dry summers.”

Mitigating climate change to keep the world within 1.5C heating target

Although it is important to address the symptoms, targeting the cause of the increase and intensification of weather extremes is crucial.

This is particularly relevant for the agricultural sector as beyond being severely affected, it also is responsible for about a third of human greenhouse gas emissions globally. A diagnosis which although grim holds in itself a huge promise and a clear path to mitigating climate change as marginal improvements to agricultural soils around the world would store enough carbon to keep the world within 1.5C of global heating,

“Using better farming techniques to store 1% more carbon in about half of the world’s agricultural soils would be enough to absorb about 31 gigatonnes of carbon dioxide a year, according to new data. That amount is not far off the 32 gigatonnes gap between current planned emissions reduction globally per year and the amount of carbon that must be cut by 2030 to stay within 1.5C.”

Fiona Harvey Environment Editor for The Guardian

The time for climate action is now. The impact of climate change is no longer an abstract concept difficult to visualise or grasp, but a reality that affects nature, our economy, food production, and livelihoods. With farmers being on the front lines. The time for wide-scale adoption of regenerative and nature-based solutions is now. It is a task we have an opportunity to tackle together by building collective knowledge, supporting and rewarding farmers’ transition to regenerative practices and investing in nature-based solutions that help mitigate climate change but also help maintain and restore the ecosystem services the planet provides for us.

August 8, 2023By Anne-Sophie Gay11 Minutes

Fuel for thought: Riding out the energy crisis with carbon farming

December 22, 20225 Minutes

Fuel for thought: Riding out the energy crisis with carbon farming

Crop establishment requires heavy use of machinery, which in turn requires a high demand for, you guessed it, fuel. But the exploding energy crisis is further causing the costs of fertiliser and diesel to rise, jeopardising margins. When paired with high-input costs and goals to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, farmers are all thinking carefully about what practices they use in the fields. 

Where some farmers are thinking of abandoning certain fields or even halting their activities altogether, others are turning to regenerative agriculture practices as an opportunity to start reducing GHG emissions and using soil as natural carbon sinks to mitigate the climate crisis. Farmers are minimising soil disturbance and adopting practices, such as cover cropping, careful residue management and direct drilling, which can all contribute to soil health and reduced running costs, among other co-benefits

Employing carbon farming as an extra revenue stream in these troubled times

What might seem to be too good to be true for some is actually something farmers can get started doing today. By concentrating on conservation agriculture practices, which amplify the sequestration of carbon into the soil and overall soil health, running costs are not only reduced, but those putting regenerative practices into action can also be rewarded for their decarbonisation efforts through the issuance of carbon certificates. This, in turn, can be used as an extra revenue stream.

These may seem like bold claims, so let’s break them down. In effect, when only looking at cost reduction, regenerative agriculture practices for carbon farming reduce the number of passes needed for crop establishment. After all, the aim is to disturb less, and hence do less, to the soil. Additionally, rather than using various machines, regenerative agriculture generally requires less machinery and tools that are lighter and more flexible, and can perform three to four different duties while out in the field.

“With carbon farming, we reduced our overheads from £715/ha and 121L/ha of diesel in 2018 to £494/ha and 47L/ha of diesel.”

– Ed Reynolds, Agreena Farmer (Cambridgeshire, UK)

Driving down costs by saving time

When we start considering time management, tilling demands roughly double the overall time spent in the field. In their 2019 study, the sustainability farming consultant Agrovi found that the time spent on the field dropped from 3.14 hours per hectare per year on a field of rapeseed farmed with conventional practices down to 1.85 hours when farmed via regenerative agriculture. And let’s face it, we all know time is money. 

Additionally, Agrovi found that the amount of fuel needed to drive up and down the field, combined with the added resistance and work needed by the machine to turn over the soil, leads to 43x more fuel being burned compared to regenerative farming.

Taking a field of wheat as an exemple, the study also found that the diesel consumption drops from 111.3L/ha per year with conventional farming to 65.6L/ha per year when regenerative practices are adopted.

“The farming industry is undeniably under constant pressure”

The present and future of farming

Resilience is perhaps the #1 line of defence farmers cannot live without. The added pressure brought on by the energy crisis is testing our ability to adapt and find new ways to manage with these invasive factors at hand. The farming industry is undeniably under constant pressure – from being susceptible to energy and financial shocks and increasingly unexpected weather conditions to being expected to answer the growing cries for more sustainability – while at the same time single handedly ensuring the world’s food security. The stakes are high and any threat to the bottom line is a serious concern. 

But building soil resilience through carbon farming can be the path forward to not only survive, but thrive. By thinking about how efficient and effective current farming processes actually are, farmers can switch gears and adopt practices that foster more co-benefits to both planet and profit.

Farmers need to decide whether they’re choosing agricultural practices simply based on what they know and are used to or because they’re the best method for farm management holistically now and in the future? Definitely some fuel for thought.

COP27: Agriculture in focus

December 22, 20227 Minutes

COP27: Agriculture in focus

This year’s COP27, held in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, came with its usual post-Paris Agreement agenda: to work together defining a path to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees above pre-industrial levels. At its heart, the COP continues to seek the acceleration of global climate action through emissions reductions, scaled-up adaptation efforts and enhanced flows of appropriate finance. What was unusual, however, was that food and agriculture took centre stage with the first official Food and Agriculture Pavilion – a significant addition to the agenda. The primary aim of the pavilion was to emphasise the transformation of agrifood systems and the need to speed up the green transition. Indeed, with a growing population dependent on resources intensely exploited to diminished returns – depleted and endangered by the likes of climate change, war and land-use change – addressing food security and the future sustainability of agriculture is critical for the health of both people and planet. 

Agreena was extremely honoured to join the Ministry of Agrarian Policy and Food of Ukraine at COP27 and take part in discussions from the Ukraine Pavilion, specifically on Ukraine’s success and challenges regarding digitalisation in the agricultural sector and how it’s being used to promote climate-smart agriculture.

Our team on the ground at COP27 consisted of our Chief Science Officer, Nate Torbick and Carbon Accounting Specialist, Tomasz Kowalczewski, together with Head of Corporate Business Development, Jennifer Hanser. Here is what Nate and Tomasz had to say about the conference: 

What were your key takeaways from attending COP27?

Nate: In general, a key takeaway from the negotiations at COP27 is that water and agriculture gained more attention this year and clearly needs to be part of the solution. No one technology or pathway will “fix” climate change, so we need to scale up many actions to create real impact.

From my experience with the Ukrainian delegation, the Ukraine pavilion stood out as powerful. The delegation had over 100 different soil types on display ranging from bright sand to black chernozem to scorched earth. Interspersed were physical and digital illustrations of the Russian aggression and impacts on agriculture and everyday life in Ukraine. Very powerful and meaningful overall. 


Tomasz: For me the first takeaway is that joining the party delegation to the UN negotiations is a privilege, and from that I think we received some credit of trust. Our being invited by the Head of Ukraine Delegation reflects all the work we’ve done in the country.

Another thing that struck me personally at COP27 was the Ukrainian pavilion itself. It was clear that the form of the pavilion was referring to the current war going on in Ukraine. It was presented as a statement, mentioning how Ukraine has been striving to become a green hub for energy in Europe, although these efforts are now blocked by war. It was moving.

This COP turned its attention to the vital issue of agriculture in the context of climate change.

What were some of the shared insights that stuck with you?

Nate: Agriculture is a cross-cutting theme. It touches climate, water, health, livelihoods, biodiversity, security … for billions of people every day. The global community is now beginning to see agriculture as a potential partner to fight climate change and support a more sustainable society. 

This COP had representation across verticals and supply chains, so now we need to keep momentum, embed green technology and inform policy for win-win outcomes. The SME and commercial industry need to bridge the last mile and bring innovations to market. Public institutions can be partners and facilitators, but it will require private markets operating to really make an impact.  


Tomasz: Agriculture as a sector is becoming very important during global negotiations, but all countries are cautious to put some mitigation objectives on this sector, as it can lead to food scarcity. Therefore, it seems that promotion of regenerative agriculture principles can bring some emission reduction benefits and still maintain a level of productivity. 

A couple of years ago, the climate change fight was dominated by the governments. The latest IPCC report shows that current mitigation efforts are far from sufficient to meet the 1.5-degree target. It requires more global involvement, including all actors from all sectors, to create momentum for wide-scale climate action. 

Agreena fits into the COP-related big picture by offering an innovative solution to establish a carbon programme that focuses on agricultural soils. There are few similar and serious programmes in the world that are doing it, so Agreena is bringing forth our solution in dialogues as a real example that it’s not only possible, but doable.  

Some have said that regenerative agriculture has flown somewhat under the radar in the face of all the energy concerns at COP27.

What are your closing thoughts?

Nate: There’s been a lot of buzzwords being used in this space – clean energy, efficient buildings, EVs – that high-profile politicians typically get in the headlines. However, if you take a holistic view across emissions, sinks, finances and cross-cutting impacts, regenerative agriculture is gaining mainstream traction. We have to be vigilant that, in these next few years, we don’t get lost in debate and instead focus on eliminating any potential greenwashing using best-in-class science. It’s really all about impacts and that’s where regenerative agriculture just works.


Tomasz: When it comes to most, if not all, climate change conferences, the topic of energy has always taken the lead. But now, agriculture has shown that it can be a major player and is in fact right behind energy when it comes to the hierarchy of climate influences.

Holiday message from CEO

December 22, 20228 Minutes

A roller-coaster ride in the rearview … a lunar effect on the horizon

What a journey this past year has been. Post-lockdown saw Agreena adapt and overcome some edifying adversity while garnering some big wins in the process. And while many companies have laid low this year with a pending recession looming, this hasn’t been the case with Agreena.

We started off the 2022 year with a hefty €20M Series A investment to put our business model and growth into overdrive. This increased our business reach by 10x and allowed a seven-fold surge in our talented personnel. What was once an office too big quickly became too small, and so we moved our operations to our current location overlooking the picturesque Copenhagen Harbour.

One of our biggest wins came this past summer, when we acquired UK-born Hummingbird Technologies. Integration is never easy, but I’m happy to say that I’ve never been part of a smoother transition. With Hummingbird fully on board, we’re now able to provide our customers with the world’s leading Measurement, Reporting and Verification (MRV) technology that further enhances our carbon certificate programme, and opens up our offering to governments and supply chains globally.  

Closing out the year, the EU has taken a globally leading, first-mover role with the Commission proposing an EU-wide voluntary framework to reliably certify high-quality carbon removals, in which carbon farming is covered. While the framework will be further developed in the years to come, this shows that our leaders are taking a more proactive role to further stimulate the development of soil carbon sequestration from both the public and private sector, which is a significant testament to the growth and impact that is yet to come.

A long look back

While the year has definitely ended on a high for us at Agreena, we also need to take a step back and reflect on overcoming the challenges that got us to where we are today. Post-lockdown carried over some habits formed during the Corona days, namely adapting to a hybrid workplace. Our team now enjoys a balance of working remotely and having an inviting, physical workspace located in the heart of Copenhagen where they can form a sense of community, whether online or in person.

The beginning of 2022 also saw Europe, and much of the world for that matter, thrust into a macro-political quagmire due to the war in Ukraine. Agreena’s original plan to address the needs of large farms both in Ukraine and Russia saw us reshuffling our strategy mid-stride, while still keeping up a supporting pace with the needs of Ukrainian farmers. Fast forward to the second half of the year, where we joined forces with Ukraine’s Ministry of Agriculture at COP27 to promote the work we’ve been doing to support climate-friendly farming among Ukrainian farmers.

“We joined forces with Ukraine’s Ministry of Agriculture at COP27.”

When we launched our AgreenaCarbon platform, we developed the first internationally accredited soil carbon programme in Europe, accredited to ISO 14064-2 standard and aligned to the latest IPCC figures for quantification. Another strategic shift was our decision to bring our certificates into the voluntary carbon market Verra standard, VCS, to generate the strongest value to our farmers’ added revenue streams.

It’s fairly simple to create traction in easily predictable situations that conjure consistent tailwind. But the reality is that we’re building a new category – a “blue ocean”, as strategists would call it – and this requires the communal ability to manage uncertainties. We don’t just follow a well-tested recipe at Agreena; we often have to develop it. This is  where Agreena has taken a leading role globally. In a new and unfolding market, we’re not only using our tech platform to support farmers and the transition to regenerative agriculture, we’re also leaning on our team’s heavy financial industry backbone to bring forth new solutions with the advanced technologies of the future, such as DLT and sustainable blockchain. We also entered into an EU regulatory sandbox and made moves on the tokenization of our carbon credits

“… promoting new offerings and services, and expectedly growing our Agreena family through additional acquisitions.”

An optimistic look ahead

It feels as though we’re swimming against the collective current at the moment. While many tech companies are holding back, playing safe and even downsizing, we’re accelerating. But we’ve always been bullish at Agreena, with the courage to raise the bar when it comes to both business and climate action opportunities anchored in our team. 

Right now we’re in a unique position. The core of our business model means that every time we earn one euro of revenue, we enable one unit of carbon reduction/removal. Sustainability isn’t just an ingredient or policy we add; it’s literally what we serve up day after day. And we serve it in a space where we can enable an effect that can literally be seen from the moon.

A final, far-out thought

Right now we’re in a unique position. The core of our business model means that every time we earn one euro of revenue, we enable one unit of carbon reduction/removal. Sustainability isn’t just an ingredient or policy we add; it’s literally what we serve up day after day. It’s what we do. 

And we serve it in a space where we can enable an effect that can literally be seen from the moon.

I wake up to the image above in my head every day; it’s the picture I paint to my kids when I explain to them why I need to leave on yet another business trip. In other words, it’s my way of making sense of how I spend the most important currency we all have – time. I spend my time here, at Agreena, trying to create a more sustainable future for my family, for farmers and for the planet. Because, in the end, it’s worth it … and I hope you, either partly or fully, feel the same.

From all of us at Agreena, we look forward to serving you in a prosperous 2023.

Simon Haldrup, CEO

Simon Haldrup, CEO