Why data is crucial in regenerative agriculture?

Illustration of Regenerative Agriculture article
📌 ☑️ Find out in this special report how data is impacting regenerative agriculture and enabling agricultural chains to make the right decisions to restore ecosystems

Special report on Regenerative Agriculture

Regenerative agriculture is one of the solutions to the challenges of food security, climate change and biodiversity loss. This newly publicized approach promises to restore ecosystems while maintaining viable agricultural yields.

On the face of it, it's a fine promise! However, if this transition to more sustainable agriculture is to be effective and democratized, regenerative agriculture must be based on solid data.

As an agricultural consultant, cooperative, agri-food companies, trainer or project leader, you play a central role in this agricultural transition. You're on the front line, instilling a new vision and guiding farmers in changing their practices.
But to implement a regenerative agriculture project, you'll need to rely on effective, relevant measurement indicators.

How can data improve farming practices? How do carbon diagnostic platforms work and what benefits can they bring to your farming customers?

We tell you all about it in the following article!

CONTENTS

The principles of regenerative agriculture

According to Sébastien Roumégous CEO of Biosphères, "regenerative agriculture is the art of aligning agricultural practices with the way ecosystems function."


But what does it actually mean?

What is regenerative agriculture?

Regenerative agriculture, Agroecology, RegenAg... These buzzwords are being used in all sorts of ways! To clarify things, here's our definition:

Whether you call it regenerative agriculture, regenerative farming or soil revitalization agriculture, the approach is the same! What's important to remember is that it's a sustainable method that focuses on restoring and regenerating agricultural ecosystems to improve soil health, restore biodiversity and ultimately reduce agriculture's environmental footprint.

Broadly speaking, these are all farming techniques that aim to maintain a living, and therefore fertile, soil (by promoting the presence of micro-organisms, insects and earthworms associated with the level of organic matter, soil structure and erosion), to preserve and restore biodiversity (insects, birds, small animals), and above all, they are techniques that are more respectful of the environment and more sustainable, based on 5 major principles.

The 5 main principles of regenerative agriculture :

In agriculture, soil vitality is essential to stimulate plant growth. Here are five techniques to help regenerate the soil.

1. Practise permanent soil cover :

To protect soil against erosion, promote water retention and enhance biodiversity, the effectiveness of permanent plant cover is well established!

Rather than leaving the soil bare between two main crops, planting intermediate crops such as cover crops helps maintain the soil.

What's more, certain crops such as legumes fix atmospheric nitrogen in the soil, reducing the need for nitrogen fertilizers.

2. Do not work the soil too intensively:

Intensive tillage disrupts soil structure and leads to a loss of organic matter. Eventually, the soil becomes impoverished and loses its nutrients.

To avoid this, it is important to reduce ploughing to a minimum and use direct seeding whenever possible.

3. Crop rotation:

The principle of crop rotation involves successively cultivating different plant species on the same plot in a planned order. Generally, different crops such as legumes, cereals, oilseeds or forages are alternated.

Varying crops diversifies plant root systems. This improves soil structure by promoting aeration, drainage and the formation of soil aggregates.

4. Restoring hedges :

Reintegrating trees, shrubs and hedges into agricultural systems has many advantages:

  • Provide shade and coolness in hot weather,
  • Promoting biodiversity,
  • Act as a bulwark against pests by providing a refuge for natural predators,
  • Regulate the water cycle by absorbing excess water during periods of rain and releasing it during periods of drought.
  • Become a natural barrier against soil erosion by maintaining its structure
5. Use natural fertilizers :

Instead of relying exclusively on mineral fertilizers, it's preferable to use natural organic fertilizers such as compost, manure or green manures (specific crops designed to enrich the soil) such as clover, sorghum, mustard, phacelia, etc. to enrich the soil in a sustainable way.

Regenerative agriculture: what are the economic and agro-ecological benefits?

As we have just seen, from an agri-environmental point of view, practicing regenerative agriculture makes it possible to :

Restoring soil health

The combination of different virtuous practices visibly improves soil health, fertility and biodiversity, making the land more productive in the long term.

Carbon sequestration

Regenerative agriculture promotes soil carbon sequestration and helps reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Tree planting & hedgerow restoration, crop rotation and permanent vegetation cover store more carbon in the soil. 

Enhancing biodiversity

More diversified, environmentally-friendly farming practices promote biodiversity. Fertile soils contain a greater variety of organisms (bacteria, fungi, insects, earthworms, small mammals...) and strengthen the resilience of agricultural ecosystems. 

Equipping for climate change

A healthy, fertile soil ecosystem helps you to cope better with heat peaks (evapotranspiration ? keeping the soil cool, cf. Serge Zaka), encourages better absorption of rainwater and prevents runoff.

But what about from an economic point of view?

A commitment to regenerative agriculture is certainly beneficial for the environment, but is it profitable from an economic point of view for the farmer who embarks on this approach?

The answer is yes, in the long term! The effects will gradually become visible over time.

It's true that using chemical inputs is, at first sight, simpler, with almost immediate results. In the long term, however, it's like shooting yourself in the foot! Soil impoverishment will push farmers to use more chemical inputs. It's a vicious circle!

An expert's point of view

"A better-functioning soil means better-functioning capital, which in turn saves on inputs tomorrow.

After 5 or 6 years, we're able to make 30% savings on fertilizer for certain technical itineraries, save water and reduce workloads.

 

   

    Sébastien Roumégous CEO of Biosphères                                                     

 

On the other hand, if farmers change their practices today, the results may not be visible immediately, but they will be winners in the long term. They will benefit from fertile soil that will provide more stable and sustainable yields over time.

To ensure the long-term viability of farms and their transmission to future generations, it is imperative to protect biodiversity and the environment. This requires a transition to a more sustainable agricultural model, such as regenerative agriculture.

Are you convinced by the approach? Are you ready to help your farmers change their practices?

Before taking the plunge, have you taken stock of the carbon footprint of your business portfolio? To deploy an effective strategy, you'll need to rely on figures and performance indicators.

Just in time, we'll be talking about it right after this!

Would you like to find out more and talk to our experts?

Data: an essential source of information for regenerative agriculture

Data is everywhere!

Implementing projects aimed at reducing the carbon footprint of farms requires the use of quantified data. To this end, there are tools available that exploit different sources of information.

But where does this data come from? How is it generated?

We're about to find out.

How is data generated and used?

article agriculture regeneratrice data processing

The data used by low-carbon project platforms are generated from different sources:

Data from farming practices :

In most cases, it is the advisors or farmers who provide information on farming practices: they give details of the different crops grown on their farms, soil management methods (ploughing, simplified tillage, direct seeding, etc.), operations carried out on their plots (fertilizing, sowing, harvesting, etc.), and water management techniques (is the farm equipped with an irrigation system or does it rely on sensors?).

All this information is generally collected via questionnaires, interviews or field surveys.

Weather data :

Meteorological data are important for assessing the impact of climatic conditions on greenhouse gas emissions and biogeochemical* processes in soils. These data are generally collected from local weather stations or national weather services (e.g. Météo France).

(*processes by which an element passes from one medium to another, then returns to its original medium, following an infinite recycling loop. Examples include the nitrogen, carbon and phosphorus cycles).

Data on greenhouse gas emissions :

GHG emissions are calculated on the basis of the practices carried out by the farmer on his farm. MRV (Monitoring Reporting Verification) software can be used to record the practices carried out by farmers on their plots of land in a variety of ways:

  • Via plot management software where farmers enter their traceability information
  • Via farm machinery: some equipment is capable of recording the operations carried out in the field and the quantities of different inputs used.
  • Via satellites: models exist to detect tillage operations such as ploughing.
Agricultural yield data :

The principle of crop rotation involves successively cultivating different plant species on the same plot in a planned order. Generally, different crops such as legumes, cereals, oilseeds or forages are alternated.

Varying crops diversifies plant root systems. This improves soil structure by promoting aeration, drainage and the formation of soil aggregates.

Data on soil characteristics :

Texture, organic matter content and pH can have an impact on GHG emissions and carbon sequestration. This information is obtained from soil analyses carried out in the laboratory or in the field.

Once collected, this data is stored and analyzed by specialized platforms to assess a farm's carbon footprint and identify opportunities for improvement.

In short, there are two ways of collecting data: declarative and numerical. Declarative data, while useful, can be questionable in terms of reliability.

Digital data, on the other hand, are generally considered more reliable and verifiable (e.g. data from satellites to determine crop type or soil cover rate, data from agricultural equipment to measure the quantity of inputs used, yields, date and duration of intervention, quantity of fuel, etc.).

Digital data are objective, reliable and irrefutable. They are therefore the best choice for your regenerative agriculture projects.

Using data to make the right decisions

Data analysis is a goldmine for establishing the typical profile of farms, assessing their level of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and identifying areas for improvement.

As a partner to farmers, this information will enable you to:
Reduce your farmers' carbon footprint by collecting data on their farming practices.

Helping farmers to compare themselves with average practices in a given area. Carbon footprinting is relatively new, and farmers don't know the impact (positive or negative) of their practices.

Identify opportunities for improvement through recommendations such as plant cover, irrigation systems or alternatives to chemical inputs.

Monitor your farmers' progress and adapt your support according to the results obtained.

Opening up new perspectives: For farmers wishing to promote their efforts to reduce their carbon footprint, some carbon diagnostic platforms offer certifications or labels that recognize sustainable practices. This is the case with MyEasyCarbon, which has been certified by Bureau Véritas as compliant with the Label Bas Carbone Grandes Cultures .

These certifications can open up marketing opportunities for agricultural products labelled "carbon neutral" or "low carbon footprint".

Regenerative agriculture and low-carbon projects: what tools are available?

If you are a cooperative, a trade or an agricultural organization, a project leader or an advisor, and you are planning to help your farmers implement low-carbon measures, you need reliable tools to activate the levers that are best suited to each farm's profile. It's important to rely on reliable tools to activate the right levers. adapted to the profile of each farm.

To carry out a diagnosis of the existing situation and obtain recommendations, call on carbon diagnosis platforms. They'll take care of everything!

These platforms collect data from the various sources (as seen above), which are then analyzed using algorithms and models to calculate the overall carbon footprint. They help identify areas where improvements can be made.

You can then use this information to guide your farmers in implementing more sustainable farming practices and reducing their carbon footprint.

MyEasyCarbon, the platform specially dedicated to regenerative agriculture, supports all players in the agricultural sector in their farmers' low-carbon projects.


Using the "MyEasyCarbon" platform considerably simplifies the implementation of more environmentally-friendly farming practices.


Depending on your sector of activity(project developer, cooperative, trainer, consultant, key account), you'll have access to specific solutions to support your low-carbon initiatives.

There are 4 modules for this purpose:

1. Simplified carbon diagnostics

Based on farm data, the tool draws up a carbon footprint in less than 15 minutes!

This turnkey tool is designed to help chambers of agriculture, cooperatives, retailers and supply chains raise awareness among farmers.

What's in it for you?

  1. You have indicators to raise awareness among your farmers
  2. Identify farms with potential for low-carbon projects
  3. Refine your knowledge of large-scale cultivation practices

💡Questionto François Thierart CEO MyEasyFarm

What is the strength of the MyEasyCarbon platform?

The big difference between MyEasyCarbon and other solutions on the market is that we use declarative data from farmers. They enter a minimum of information into the platform, and we use a maximum of digital data to prove that this information is real.

To do this, we use satellite data, which proves that the information is reliable and verifiable. For example, to measure ground cover, we use very high-level vision, thanks to the Sentinel satellite, which enables us to see down to the very last pixel (i.e. 10m by 10m).

But even with this degree of precision, you can't see everything that's going on in a plot. To compensate for this, we combine this satellite information with farm equipment data. In this way, we know precisely how long a machine has been in a plot, how much fuel it has consumed, how much fertilizer the spreader has registered...

All this equipment is equipped with sensors capable of recording information as close as possible to what is happening in a plot.

And we are able to make the most of all the data that comes back from this equipment. So we can track changes in technical itineraries and agricultural practices.

2. MyEasyCarbon: certified for low-carbon projects

Go one step further by carrying out a certified diagnosis in line with the Bureau Véritas Label Bas Carbone Grandes Cultures method, to support farmers and agricultural advisors in their low-carbon projects in France and abroad.

The farmer chooses the action plan and associated cultivation practices, and can monitor its progress. The tool makes it possible to compare the planned objective and actual practices throughout the project.

The MyEasyCarbon solution is interoperable with international labels.

3. The "Advisor" module for monitoring several farms

Expand the capabilities of MyEasyCarbon with the integration of the "Advisor" module.


This solution is aimed at farm advisors, project developers, agro-industrialists and carbon credit buyers, to help them save time in monitoring their farms.

4. The "Project manager" module

Directly integrated into MyEasyCarbon, "Project Manager" is the module that facilitates the management of all your projects (supply chain projects, Low Carbon Label, simplified diagnostics, etc.), by offering you a visualization and analysis of the operations concerned.

A real dashboard for project managers (cooperatives, retailers, Chambers of Agriculture, etc.), the "Project Manager"module brings together all the information needed to manage a project according to its specific requirements.

Would you like to find out more and talk to our experts?

MyEasyCarbon at the crossroads of the agricultural sector?

What sets MyEasyCarbon apart is its use of farmer-reported data, combined with digital satellite data and information from farm equipment. This approach guarantees the reliability of the data.

The tool accurately tracks farming practices and changes in technical itineraries. Let's take a look at the feedback from users?

Case studies in using the MyEasyCarbon platform

The Biosphères case: advising farmers

Biosphères is a consulting firm for farmers. It bridges the gap between the agricultural world and companies to support the implementation of regenerative agriculture.

The challenge for Biosphères: to use criteria to measure the environmental impact of the new technical itinerary deployed with farmers.

When Biosphères trainers set up a technical itinerary, their aim is to make it economically viable and socially attractive. This means that it must not require more working time, generate a higher margin or generate additional costs.

That's why it's essential for them to have criteria and data enabling them to measure the actions implemented.

The MyEasyCarbon solution

"Projects often involve support in the field, coupled with a supply chain dynamic in which the manufacturer will pay a little more for products derived from regenerative agriculture. We need to measure and ensure that this is indeed regenerative agriculture, hence the importance of the indicators provided by MyEasyCarbon".

 

   

    Sébastien Roumégous CEO of Biosphères                                                     

The Cristal Union case: agro-industrial beet cooperative

Cristal Union is a cooperative with a dozen industrial sites in France (sugar mills and distilleries), working with players in the agri-food sector (industry, pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, animal feed, energy producers).

Cristal Union's challenges: Decarbonize its own sugar beet and alcohol processing industry (scope 1 and 2), but also engage and support its farmers in regenerative agriculture (scope 3).

On the farmer's side, Cristal Union encourages its farmers to implement low-carbon practices through a system of premiums paid directly to them.
On the customer's side, companies purchasing Cristal Union products can clearly display the cooperative's commitment.

For this type of project, indicators are extremely important.

The MyEasyCarbon solution

"At the outset, through the simplified diagnosis, we needed an estimate of the measure. Now, the project is more global and requires a better assessment of our farmers' GHG emissions. The greenhouse gas emissions part, which will cover all our farmers, will require the collection of a very large volume of data.

As we move from the LCA (Life Cycle Assessment) logic of a crop to the rotation logic, we need to take into account the effects of regeneration agriculture. That's why we need to rely on MyEasyFarm".

     

 

Julien Coignac - CSR Coordinator at Cristal Union

The CarbonApp case: developer of carbon offset projects

CarbonApp is a developer of carbon offset projects. The operator acts as an interface between farmers and companies interested in purchasing carbon credits.

The challenge for CarbonApp is to generate carbon credits and put a financial value on them.

The use of measured data is essential to guarantee transparency and a solid frame of reference.

The MyEasyCarbon solution

"Offsetting is the offsetting of emissions by a number of companies interested in buying carbon credits generated by farmers or foresters. But how do you get a project financed by a player outside the value chain? This is possible through the interface of carbon credits, the low-carbon label and tools like MyEasyFarm, which will enable us to have all this data traceability".

 

 

 

   Nicolas Ferrière, co-founder of CarbonApp.

To find out more, take a look at all the use cases for MyEasyCarbon solutions on our website.
So why are data crucial in regenerative agriculture?

To prove your point!

What all these use cases have in common is the need to measure in order to prove their claims. Indeed, the companies and organizations that finance the agricultural transition must provide proof of what they claim (in terms of CSR commitment, for example).

Agro-industrial groups are also under pressure from the CSRD*, but also from their customers! The latter are beginning to demand carbon trajectories or reductions in greenhouse gas emissions.

*The Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive (CSRD) aims to standardize corporate sustainability reporting and improve the availability and quality of published ESG (environmental, social and governance) data.

Regenerative agriculture: how to reduce scope 3 & produce sustainably in the agricultural supply chain?

At the recent Paris International Agricultural Show, the conference on "Regenerative agriculture: how to reduce scope 3 & produce sustainably in the agricultural supply chain" organized on the Ferme Digitale stand drew a full house, proving the growing interest of the entire agricultural ecosystem in techniques leading to more sustainable agriculture.

The round table was attended by :

  • Marie-Cécile Damave - Head of innovation and international affairs at Agridées
  • Julien Coignac - CSR Coordinator at Cristal Union
  • Sébastien Roumégous - CEO of Biosphères
    Nicolas Ferrière - co-founder of CarbonApp
  • François Thierart - CEO of MyEasyFarm & MyEasyCarbon
Visual conference Agriculture Régénératrice SIA

As Marie-Cécile Damave pointed out, "something is happening around low-carbon and regenerative agriculture. We're seeing a structuring of supply chains and greater involvement from downstream processing, either inside or outside the food chain".

So yes, we're on the move, and all the better for it!

If you would like to find out more and have the following questions, please contact us:

Conference replay

👉 So don't miss the replay of the "Regenerative agriculture: how to reduce scope 3 & produce sustainably in the agricultural supply chain" conference, which will give you all the answers you need.

replay conference regenerative agriculture and scope 3 - MyEasyFarm 2024
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