The Berlin-based startup SmartCloudFarming is one of the first who joined RootCamp. Their remote sensing technology provides 3D soil maps about moisture and nutrients as well as soil organic carbon.
Why is that useful? “Imagine the corona-virus can be identified via satellite in real time images. You could find out the values for every city and act accordingly. If you would use the same value and actions for the whole country it would not be effective. The same applies to soil organic carbon. Instead of having one value for five hectares you can get ten values for each hectare using a satellite. Precise and in depth”, explains CEO and plant biotechnologist Michele Bandecchi. Compared to other technologies, they don’t have to collect soil samples, are faster and more scalable.
From left to right: Michele Bandecchi and Suvrajit Saha in Cornaredo (Milano, Italy), using drones for remote soil nutrients monitoring and analytics.
Innovation in soil health
When starting out, Michele and his co-founder engineer Suvrajit Saha, noticed that usually soil is analyzed using physical samples in labs. So they developed a technology that replaces this with data analytics. This way, a field can be accurately and sustainably fertilized. Looking back at the beginning of the founding process, he would give himself one advice: “You're not going to make any difference if you wait for your turn to speak. You have to be determined and very focused. I very much admire my co-founder and together we complement and sustain each other.”
Soil organic carbon as the bitcoin of agriculture
But, today there is a trend in the industry helping them: “People are more aware that they cannot get away anymore without caring for the environment." Meaning that in agriculture there is a bigger interest in keeping soils healthy and fertile. Also “soil moisture is the gold stock of agriculture, it's stable and you will always need it. Soil organic carbon is the bitcoin of agriculture. You have amazing advertising and it's going to be the future."
RootCamp feels a bit like a family
The increased awareness is not showing everywhere though. A lot of investors are still cautious when it comes to agritech startups which is the biggest hurdle for the founders right now. One way of facing that challenge was to join RootCamp, which for Michele is the “needed push to deal with questions we keep postponing." Gaia, the Program Manager of RootCamp, "is reminding us to do all important tasks and Philipp, the managing Director, sits with us once a week to question our business decisions. It is challenging, but stimulating and it is like a family should be: You annoy each other in a good way."