# 006 Let’s make agriculture great again

Current methods of farming are changing rapidly.  With climate change and a rising world population – there is tremendous pressure on agriculture and food security for the future is a real concern for farmers and scientists.

“By 2050 we will need 70% more food available to the growing population. Important is a resilient production (rather than highest yield), closing nutrient cycles, soil quality and the reduction of food waste and post-harvest losses” says Jacob Bussmann, one of the founders of SeedForward.

“By substituting chemicals often used in farming with bio-based alternatives, we have a huge opportunity to create a positive impact on the soil and the wellbeing of all living creatures.”

Bio-based products are of high societal and economic interest due to their potential value for sustainability and the protection of the environment. These products are cleverly made from natural substances, bio-based chemicals and energy derived from renewable resources. Bio-based products are quickly becoming a growing and attractive market by replacing chemical based products in farming and agriculture.

Viagra for crops

Bussman, co-founder Ritter and the team at SeedForward created the ‘Viagra for crops’ a blue bio-based formula to enhance soil health and growth of crops like maize and grains, to stand up tall and potent. Jacob chuckles; “It has nothing to do with the famous ‘blue pill’, but everything about improving the impact of agriculture.” Do these blue seeds hold the key to more sustainable methods of farming? Can they make agriculture great again?

Watch SeedForward’s Circular Story here!

Everything is connected

A circular economy is a co-creation economy. We can’t do it alone.
Take a look at these Circular Stories, about other pioneers in the field of agriculture and carbon sinks:

  • This love couple found a way to capture farmers N2 and make a fertilizer of it → #026 A Fertile and Loving Partnership
  • Crops grown in greenhouses are responsible for huge emission volumes. Soapbubbles might be the solution to grow climate neutral crops → BBBLS
  • Can our future cities be made of material that is also a carbon sink? → Made of Air 
  • Our oceans are the worlds biggest carbon sinks. A healthy and plastic free ocean ecosystem is of uttermost importance → Reefsystems and #005 Fighting Microplastic Pollution

What problems are farmers facing today? 

The top 3 challenges the agriculture industry is facing today are

  1. Climate change – extreme weather events make it harder for steady harvests
  2. Soil degradation
  3. Dependence on synthetic agro-chemicals like pesticides and fertilisers  causing a high price pressure on farmers

These challenges mean it can be difficult to achieve high yield crops grown sustainably.

It is very hard for farmers to maintain a profitable farming business under extreme weather events and the current global market conditions. Regenerative agriculture offers a solution to produce high quality food and achieve yield stability while strengthening biodiversity, water quality and carbon content in the soil.” according to Bussman.

By switching to bio-based products, solutions include:

  • Reducing impact on carbon footprint and increasing restrictions and regulations to help ease this
  • Protecting crops from harmful disease while minimising use of chemicals and fertilisers
  • Improving soil fertility and stimulating biodiversity

How does SeedForward help farmers?

“We believe that changing the way farming is done, can change overall food security and the well being of living beings substantially. That’s why we are substituting chemicals with bio-based alternatives.”

SeedForward is providing farmers a way to grow more on their land, increase yield stability, and thus financial stability. In this way they contribute to regenerative agriculture. The unique blue potent bio-based coating supplies the plant and the soil with the right nutrients from the start. “The plant will develop stronger roots which can reach deeper nutrients and water more easily, making them more resilient towards pests and diseases, while less fertiliser is needed. It results in more stable yields. The crops that grow from our seeds are especially effective in areas impacted by extreme weather events such as droughts.”   

“We are offering farmers an alternative that is efficient, EU compliant, sustainable and affordable. Our platform solution enables us to customise the coatings to different crops, locations and to climate change”

“Last season we substituted synthetic chemicals with bio-based coated seeds on already 100.000 ha of land.”

“This achievement and reaching the point of break-even in the third year after founding SeedForward is something we are incredibly proud of. This is the point where we can not only show the vision, but show that sustainable products in agriculture are A. feasible B. profitable and C. adapted by our product end-user – the farmer.”

Chemicals vs. Bio-based

Chemicals

Bio-based

The usual chemical coatings or fertilizers are red.

To differentiate this unique bio-based seed coating from
their toxic alternatives, SeedForward made their coating blue! 

For their production finite raw materials or fossil fuels are used,
large amounts of CO2 are emitted and
toxic byproducts end up in the water system.

Bio-based products refer to non-food products derived from biomass
(plants, algae, crops, trees, marine organisms and biological waste
from households, animals and food production).

Used on the land, they are extremely harmful for soil and biodiversity

The ingredients of this blue bio-based coating are derived from bio-streams
and provide the right combination of nutrients for plants and the soil
and are not harmful for insects.

The Soil Story

Here is a great video on why we need regeneration of our soil and what techniques can be used. 

4 x why soil health is extremely important for our planet

  1. Storing carbon. Our soil is a so-called ‘carbon sink’. It means the ground can store carbon by taking carbon dioxide out of the air and keeping it in a ‘safe’ place instead of the atmosphere. 
  2. Dealing with heavy rainfall.  Unhealthy soil cannot drain rain so well causing large amounts of mud, land and nutrients to be washed away. 
  3. Responsible for biodiversity, growth and resilience of plants against diseases and extreme weather.
  4. There is a direct link to soil health and the quality of our food.

Regenerative models of agriculture protect soils, empower farmers and promote animal welfare.

What can be done by farmers to restore soil health?

Farmers play an important role in reduction in use of synthetic chemicals and fertilisers, by using bio-based products. And take care of the land in a sustainable way with: permanent soil coverage, crop rotations and ‘intercropping’ systems, composting to bring back and circulate nutrients in the system and creation of high structured and biodiverse land-use models.

By providing bio based products, SeedForward is solving a piece of the puzzle in the circular economy agriculture industry: ‘Regenerative Agriculture’.

What is your personal definition of the Circular Economy?

“Circular economy for us means to stop extracting natural resources and instead regenerate them. That’s why we always consider waste resource streams in our product development. Moreover, we want to regenerate soils and ecosystems, through marketing products that have a positive effect.

I believe the key would be to have a more equal distribution of life-quality to humans and all other living beings (in the soil, water and land-surface), while regenerating our ecosystems and creating a resilient inclusive society. Citizens would be world citizens and profits of sustainable businesses would flow into value creation (for employees, society, ecosystems, the business itself), rather than shareholder dividends or large bonuses. Products would not have planned obsolescence but are built for longest sustainable life-time possible and being upcycled after first life time, changing business and ownership models too.

The key-role players in this would be everyone! Since society would be thought of in inclusive networks rather than societal class or status. Businesses would strive for cooperation rather than competition and use synergies for societal and ecological value creation.”

What challenges do you face in going circular and what would you do with €1.000? 

“We see our gap of being fully circular is mainly in availability of packaging and labeling material; there is no alternative which meets industry standards but is made of circular materials. Given €1.000 we would definitely invest in finding a circular packaging alternative for our products.” 

Circularity in agriculture

“By 2050 we will need 70% more food available to the growing population. Important is a resilient production (rather than highest yield), closing nutrient cycles, soil quality and the reduction of food waste and post-harvest losses” “says Jacob Bussmann, one of the founders of SeedForward.

Circular agriculture makes this possible within the current (global) area of ​​agricultural land, expects Wageningen University & Research. This does require a transition of the agricultural system, with an emphasis on sustainability, cycles and combating losses in the chain. Nutrients, raw materials and residual flows are used optimally.

Optimal use of all biomass according to Wageningen University

Circular agriculture is based on the principle that all biomass is used optimally. The residual flows from one chain are the raw materials for another chain. For example, food that we no longer eat is used as animal feed. In order to achieve such a circular agricultural system, we need a transition in which vegetable and animal production chains are cleverly linked together. https://www.wur.nl/nl/Dossiers/dossier/Kringlooplandbouw.htm 

Circularity in plant and animal production assumes that plant biomass is the basis of our food system, and should be used primarily to produce human food; that by-products from food production, processing and consumption are reused or recycled into the food system; and that we make the most efficient use of animals by using them to unlock biomass inedible for humans into valuable food, manure and ecosystem services.
https://www.wur.nl/upload_mm/7/5/5/14119893-7258-45e6-b4d0-e514a8b6316a_Circularity-in-agricultural-production-20122018.pdf

LinearCircular
TakeUsing finite raw materials and minerals extracted from rocks for production of 

* chemical fertilisers

* pesticides herbicides, fungicides

* food storage and packaging (cans, plastic)

* animal feed ect

ReDesign the production and use of food

Go from chemical to bio-based
fertilisers

Regenerative agriculture

MakeProduction powered by fossil fuels

Water pollution, by products end up in water

Locally produced, reduce the need
for packaging and transportation
Waste ⅓ of the food is wasted

Only 2% of valuable organic nutrients are
composted into a valuable source for our soil

Blockchain and AI used to optimise
transport and stock, traceability of
nutrients

Some wisdom to ‘Seed Forward’ to other founders

Get a Feel Good Manager!

“Even though as a founder it will always be necessary to be available every day at any time, finding the right balance day-to-day is crucial for long-term sustainability. After having some close-to-burnout experiences in the past years I now created a life-work balance instead of work-life balance. Often, even though there are many stressful days, I try to lean back 5 minutes in between, breathe and change my attitude towards the situation – that can make a huge difference. Taking cold showers (at least every second day) helps as well to stay focused. And of course our feel good manager Calle is making sure our team and me get our daily dosage of distraction.”

What bad recommendations do you hear in your area of expertise?

“We were recommended to use VC money for our growth. As we want to stay a sustainable and family owned company it is important to stay independent. We rather grow slowly but make our own decisions.

Let ‘Triple Top Line’ inspire you to incorporate sustainability in all your processes

“I have studied forestry, environmental science and entrepreneurship. Ever since, I am dedicated to show that long-term financial sustainability of future agriculture businesses will only be achieved when including ‘Triple Top Line’ sustainability in all business processes – from product to HR.” 

What is TTL?

The Triple Top Line is an interesting way of thinking that aims for a sustainable industrial system, generating economic returns while enhancing nature and society. By concurrently maximising value on all three pillars, the Triple Top Line points out that economic growth, environmental gains, and societal value creation are not only interconnected but mutually reinforcing each other. 

Read more here.

Are crops grown with bio-based products automatically Organic?

A changing consumer demand based on the awareness of the need for more sustainable products and consumption, leads to more Bio, Eco- or Organic products on the shelves of supermarkets. Thus leading to more organic farming.

Organic food is food produced by methods that comply with the standards of organic farming. Standards vary worldwide, but organic farming features practices that cycle resources, promote ecological balance, and conserve biodiversity. Organizations regulating organic products may restrict the use of certain pesticides and fertilisers in the farming methods used to produce such products. 

“At the same time, even though many synthetic products are still allowed in organic agriculture – we believe, that we need to reduce synthetic chemicals as much as possible – (re)build a healthy soil and use natural synergies of crops and crop rotations in order to achieve a scalable and economically viable farming model for future generations.”

“Our bio-based seed treatments in corn and cereals are already listed under FIBL (EU organic product certification). We just received our first input from an external study – that our products actually increase biodiversity in the root zone.”

Circular Quote
of the day:

Add Value Through Connecting People. Without condition.

Jacob Bussman
Founder of Seed.Forward

Did we get you interested in sustainable or circular agriculture,  or carbon sinks?

Check out the Circular Story of  N2-Applied , BBBLS and Made Of Air.
Or check out the website of SeedForward

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