Climate-Smart Agriculture and Supply Chains

Detailed overview of innovation with sample startups and prominent university research


What it is

Climate-smart agriculture and supply chains encompass practices and technologies that aim to transform food production and distribution systems to be more sustainable, resilient, and adaptable to the challenges of climate change. This holistic approach involves mitigating agriculture’s contribution to greenhouse gas emissions, enhancing food security in the face of a changing climate, and improving the livelihoods of farmers and communities involved in food production.

Impact on climate action

Climate-Smart Agriculture and Supply Chains revolutionize corporate carbon management by integrating sustainable farming practices, reducing emissions, and enhancing carbon sequestration. By optimizing supply chains, it minimizes transportation emissions. This innovation fosters resilient ecosystems, mitigates climate change effects, and promotes sustainable food production, significantly advancing climate action efforts.

Underlying
Technology

  • Regenerative Agriculture: Employing farming practices that rebuild soil health, enhance biodiversity, and sequester carbon in the soil, such as cover cropping, crop rotation, and no-till farming.
  • Precision Agriculture: Utilizing data, sensors, and digital tools to optimize farming practices, such as irrigation, fertilization, and pest management, to reduce inputs, improve yields, and minimize environmental impact.
  • Sustainable Supply Chain Management: Integrating sustainability principles into every stage of the food supply chain, from farm to table, promoting transparency, traceability, and responsible sourcing practices.
  • Climate-Resilient Crops and Livestock: Developing and deploying crop varieties and livestock breeds that are more resilient to drought, floods, pests, and diseases associated with climate change.
  • Agroecology: Promoting ecological principles and biodiversity in farming systems, minimizing reliance on synthetic inputs, and fostering natural pest control and nutrient cycling.

TRL : 7-8

Prominent Innovation themes

  • AI-Powered Crop Monitoring and Management: AI and machine learning algorithms analyze data from sensors, drones, and satellites to monitor crop health, predict yields, optimize irrigation and fertilization, and detect pests and diseases early on, improving efficiency and reducing environmental impact.
  • Blockchain-Enabled Traceability: Blockchain technology enhances transparency and traceability in food supply chains, enabling consumers to track the origin and journey of their food, verifying sustainability claims, and promoting responsible sourcing practices.
  • Vertical Farming and Controlled Environment Agriculture: Innovative farming technologies, such as vertical farming and controlled environment agriculture, are producing food with minimal land, water, and energy use, offering sustainable solutions for urban areas and regions with harsh climates.
  • Alternative Protein Sources: Plant-based and cultivated meat alternatives are gaining traction as sustainable and resource-efficient options that can reduce the environmental footprint of protein production.
  • Climate-Informed Agricultural Insurance: Insurance products are being developed to provide farmers with financial protection against climate-related risks, such as droughts, floods, and crop failures, enhancing resilience and financial security.

Other Innovation Subthemes

  • Regenerative Farming Practices
  • Precision Agriculture Solutions
  • Climate-Resilient Crop Development
  • Agroecological Farming Methods
  • AI-Driven Crop Management Systems
  • Blockchain Traceability in Agriculture
  • Vertical Farming Innovations
  • Controlled Environment Agriculture Technologies
  • Plant-Based Protein Solutions
  • Climate-Smart Insurance Products
  • Soil Health Monitoring Technologies
  • Biodiversity Conservation in Agriculture
  • Water-Efficient Irrigation Systems

Sample Global Startups and Companies

  • Regrow Ag:
    • Technology Focus: Regrow Ag is likely focused on leveraging data analytics, IoT, and AI to optimize agricultural practices for climate resilience and sustainability. They may offer solutions for precision farming, crop monitoring, and resource management.
    • Uniqueness: Regrow Ag may differentiate itself through its comprehensive approach to climate-smart agriculture, offering end-to-end solutions that address the entire agricultural supply chain. This could include soil health management, water conservation, and carbon sequestration strategies.
    • End-User Segments: Their solutions are likely targeted towards various stakeholders in the agricultural industry, including farmers, agronomists, food companies, and policymakers, who are seeking sustainable and resilient agricultural practices.
  • Indigo Agriculture:
    • Technology Focus: Indigo Agriculture specializes in harnessing the power of microbial technology and digitalization to improve crop yield, quality, and resilience to environmental stressors. They may offer products and services that enhance soil health, nutrient uptake, and pest resistance.
    • Uniqueness: Indigo Agriculture stands out for its focus on microbial solutions, which have the potential to revolutionize agriculture by reducing reliance on chemical inputs and promoting natural ecosystem processes. Their approach integrates cutting-edge science with digital tools for actionable insights.
    • End-User Segments: Their target segments include farmers, growers, and agricultural companies looking to improve the sustainability and profitability of their operations while reducing environmental impact.
  • Trace Genomics:
    • Technology Focus: Trace Genomics likely specializes in soil health diagnostics and microbial genomics to optimize agricultural productivity and sustainability. Their solutions may involve DNA sequencing and analytics to assess soil health, identify beneficial microbes, and recommend tailored interventions.
    • Uniqueness: Trace Genomics may differentiate itself through its focus on molecular-level insights into soil microbiomes, offering personalized recommendations for soil management practices. Their technology enables precision agriculture strategies that enhance crop resilience and environmental sustainability.
    • End-User Segments: Their solutions are likely targeted towards farmers, agronomists, and agricultural service providers seeking data-driven approaches to soil management and crop production optimization.

Sample Research At Top-Tier Universities

  • University of California, Davis, Agricultural Sustainability Institute:
    • Technology Enhancements: Researchers at UC Davis are pioneering the integration of advanced technologies such as remote sensing, precision agriculture, and big data analytics into climate-smart agricultural practices. They are developing innovative tools and models to monitor carbon emissions, sequestration, and overall sustainability metrics across agricultural supply chains.
    • Uniqueness of Research: UC Davis’ approach involves a holistic view of climate-smart agriculture, considering not only carbon management but also factors like water efficiency, biodiversity conservation, and social equity. Their interdisciplinary research combines expertise in agronomy, environmental science, economics, and policy to address complex sustainability challenges.
    • End-use Applications: The research outcomes from UC Davis have practical applications for farmers, agribusinesses, and policymakers striving to mitigate climate change impacts while ensuring food security and economic viability. By adopting climate-smart agricultural practices, stakeholders can reduce greenhouse gas emissions, enhance soil health, and improve resilience to climate variability.
  • Wageningen University & Research, Wageningen Plant Research:
    • Technology Enhancements: Researchers at Wageningen University & Research are leveraging cutting-edge technologies such as genomic breeding, precision farming, and IoT (Internet of Things) devices to develop climate-smart crop varieties and optimize agricultural production systems. They are also exploring novel approaches for carbon capture and storage in agricultural soils and biomass.
    • Uniqueness of Research: Wageningen’s research is at the forefront of integrating plant science, agronomy, and environmental modeling to design resilient and sustainable agricultural systems. Their emphasis on genetic improvement, agroecology, and ecosystem services offers unique insights into enhancing carbon sequestration and climate resilience in agricultural landscapes.
    • End-use Applications: The research outcomes from Wageningen have practical implications for farmers, breeders, and food processors seeking to transition towards climate-smart agricultural practices and supply chains. By adopting climate-resilient crop varieties and implementing soil carbon management strategies, stakeholders can reduce their carbon footprint and contribute to global climate mitigation efforts.
  • Cornell University, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences:
    • Technology Enhancements: Cornell researchers are at the forefront of developing innovative technologies for monitoring and mitigating greenhouse gas emissions throughout agricultural supply chains. They are leveraging tools such as life cycle assessment, remote sensing, and blockchain technology to trace carbon flows and identify opportunities for emissions reductions.
    • Uniqueness of Research: Cornell’s research encompasses a broad range of disciplines, including agronomy, economics, sociology, and information science, to address the complex challenges of corporate carbon management in agriculture. Their interdisciplinary approach enables a comprehensive understanding of the social, economic, and environmental dimensions of climate-smart agriculture.
    • End-use Applications: The research outcomes from Cornell provide actionable insights for businesses, policymakers, and consumers aiming to reduce the carbon footprint of agricultural products and supply chains. By implementing carbon accounting tools, sustainable land management practices, and supply chain transparency measures, stakeholders can enhance the sustainability and resilience of food systems in a changing climate.

commercial_img Commercial Implementation

Climate-smart agriculture and supply chain practices are being implemented by a growing number of food companies, retailers, and farmers worldwide. This trend is driven by consumer demand for sustainable food products, corporate sustainability commitments, and government policies that encourage sustainable agricultural practices.