In the recent Seventh ministerial meeting of the United Kingdom - Nigeria Economic Development Forum (EDF), Nigeria updated on the implementation of the Nigerian National Quality Policy, including the constitution of a twenty-member Quality Council and its Terms of Reference. Ministers discussed the need to robustly put this policy into effect so that Nigerian products met the required standards for export. Nigeria welcomed the support the UK has provided for exporters since EDF6. This included the UK-Nigeria Tech Hub’s Trade Scaleup Bootcamp supporting Nigerian female entrepreneurs with export ready products or services, the virtual Exporters’ Dialogue to explain the requirements of UK markets, both delivered in partnership with the Nigerian Export Promotion Council (NEPC), and the support delivered by the now-completed Nigeria Improving Business Environment Programme, which included a demand assessment for quality services for four major value chains, and technical assistance to the Nigeria National Accreditation Service (NiNAS), a key provider of quality services, to gain international recognition as an accreditation body. The UK updated on support to Nigerian exporters of organic hibiscus, sesame and groundnuts through the LINKS RegenFARM initiative which will support 30,000 farmers over the next two years.
Many farmers are keen to introduce regenerative practices on their farm but don’t always know where to start. We spoke to Devon-based farm consultant Jason Hayward-Jones to find out how his RegenFARM system can help.
Interest in regenerative agriculture continues to gather pace, not least because of the new schemes rewarding environmental land management (ELMs). With principles that promote soil health and biodiversity, advocates believe regenerative farming practices help protect the environment. However, farmers looking to adopt a regenerative approach also need to remain profitable, and understand which practices will bring the best returns.
This is where the RegenFARM digital platform can help, says Devon-based farm consultant Jason Hayward-Jones. The idea was to create a digital version of his knowledge of regenerative agriculture in a simple to use and cost-effective system. The result is a software platform which helps farmers transition their system to one which adopts the principles and practices of regenerative agriculture.
Gathering data to provide regenerative options on farm
Acting as a tool to support decision making, the software brings in data from a range of on-farm and external sources, including satellites and drones. It then simulates different scenarios based on changes in practice. This data is integrated with in-depth maps covering field boundaries, water catchments and land topography creating a digital version of the farm.
The tool uses this information to suggest where regenerative farming practices such as agroforestry, techno-grazing, keyline subsoiling and no-till could be most effectively applied. A simple cost-benefit analysis calculates the potential financial benefits to the farm, as well as potential complementary revenue streams in the form of payments for ecosystem services.
“The aim of RegenFARM is to help farmers make the most of their natural assets,” explains Jason. “Modelling these different regenerative agriculture techniques on a digital version of their farm removes some of the risk. We have successfully used the platform to design a 10,000-hectare agroforestry system in Africa, but the tool can also work at a smaller scale, down to just a couple of hectares.”
A tool to help farmers face future challenges
Jason has noticed how quickly Australian farmers have adopted regenerative agriculture practices compared to those in the UK: “This was largely out of necessity due to the immediate threats they faced from climate change. As UK farmers start to face their own challenges, we wanted to develop a tool which could help them explore potential solutions.
“By having the opportunity to explore how different scenarios can affect both the farm and business, we are hoping to make the transition towards regenerative agriculture principles simpler. Overall, we hope it will help farmers develop more resilient businesses which are able to meet the challenges we’re facing.”
Jason also believes RegenFARM can help farmers make the most of ELMS and other schemes which reward farmers for regenerating natural capital. “The hurdles farmers have to overcome to benefit from ELMS are high,” he explains. “For many, the projects undertaken as part of the scheme need continual monitoring and adaption to gain the most from them in years to come. The RegenFARM platform can take this workload away from farmers while they concentrate on doing what they do best; growing healthy nutritious food.”
RegenFARM has become a strategic partner to Kingston Organic, a producer of humic and fulvic soil additives to replace the use of synthetic and chemical fertilizer inputs. Mr. Gus Robayna, Kingston’s VP of Global Sales & Marketing, stated that the use of fulvic soil booster accomplishes very measurable, net negative greenhouse gases (GHG) emissions and provide eligibility for carbon credit generation. “These credits fund recurring revenue streams that are measured and managed by our alliance partners, RegenFARM Ltd and Climate Wedge Ltd. Using globally accepted protocols, the credits can be monetized and sold, and revenues generated by the sales are shared at a fixed percentage with the stakeholders participating in the process.” Mr. Robayna added, “this means individual farmers and families share in the benefits without any cumbersome or complicated carbon credit management process and can use the funds to further improve their production efficiency and economic circumstances.”
RegenFARM is delighted to announce a new contract has been signed with UK FCDO LINKS project in Northern Nigeria. This is an extension of our existing contract, to further develop the digital platform and expand its reach to more smallholder farmers. Over the next few years the platform will be used to educate and aggregate farmers, and work with them to change their production methods to a regenerative model. Thank you to all the LINKS team in Nigeria and UK for supporting this important initiative and we look forward to posting further project updates as they develop.
The last few months have seen over 10,000 farmers onboarded to the RegenFARM Platform in Jigawa, Nigeria, with a further 20,000 due to join in the next few months. You can see from the image to the right the high degree of accuracy using our specifically designed app, with individual fields highlighted in blue. It's been a fantastic combined effort by our tech team in the UK and our dedicated on-the-ground team in Kano. We are now able to working effectively with individual farmers, aggregated together on our platform, and support them with training, planning and other information as they make the transition to a regenerative agriculture system.
During August 2021 RegenFARM began work on developing a platform for 10,000 farmers transitioning to regenerative agriculture inn Jigawa State, Northern Nigeria. The project is part of the larger LINKS initiate with an overarching objective of the programme to support job creation and income raising for the poor, women and those living with disability, in the three northern Nigerian states of Kaduna, Kano and Jigawa.
The project will last 12 months and regular updates will be provided.....
THIS EPISODE IS PART OF THE LANDSCAPE TECH SERIES. FIND OUT MORE ABOUT IT HERE:
LISTEN TO THE CONVERSATION ON:
What can we get by altering the behaviour of water? How does AI technology contribute to the success of landscape designs? What kind of technology is needed to scale regen ag to a landscape level? How does Yeomans’ Keyline contribute to RegenFARM’s regeneration vision?
Yeomans’ Keyline System
RegenFARM firmly believes in the significance of water in the agricultural food production industry. As water is easier to manipulate compared to other elements, they found out that identifying the part of the landscape where water’s behaviour changes is key. Now, what they do is incorporate AI technology, Yeomans’ key-line system and many other principles to rehydrate degraded landscapes.
“A wise man once told me that there are only eight ingredients to any food production system anywhere on earth, and they are explained to me in order of magnitude: sun, air, soil, water, plants, animals, people and money.” – Jason Hayward-Jones
Technology and Algorithms
For accuracy’s sake, as RegenFARM deals with hundreds of thousands hectares of land, they acquire data to identify the “key points” in order to place their design on massive landscapes in a way that would alter the behaviour of water. Together with some local knowledge, they heavily use technology for data, algorithms, satellites, etc. Their ongoing project is a land in Northern Nigeria, in which the land is flat, arid, very low in organic matter, and prone to erosion.
“So we continued to develop the algorithm and inserted additions like agroforestry lines and water channels, and water storage areas.” – Jason Hayward-Jones
Why Simulations Matter
Technology not only plays a massive role in the accuracy of RegenFARM’s landscape designs, but also in convincing the farmers to go regenerative and in showing financial investors an actual image of what the company visualises. These simulations show the impact of these projects in the environment and economy. RegenFARM’s ultimate goal is to keep on replicating and expanding so they can have bigger contributions in fighting against climate change and in supporting farmers’ livelihood.
“So these big projects are of interest because they can pour a lot of climate finance funding into it and, in return, conserve biodiverse areas and help local farmer livelihoods. It’s just a great package you can offer.” – Jason Hayward-Jones
Unlocking Limitless Potentials
One of the most important things about RegenFARM's way of designing landscapes is the fact that they don’t harm anything with the process, not even a single tree. Also, in order to succeed in designing landscapes, it is necessary properly scale the measurement of water flows and carbon sequestration, put the data in a machine learning tool, and fully understand how ecosystems and natural systems work. All these processes pose limitless potential in rehydrating degraded landscapes.
“We also get data from the project itself and feedback into our algorithm, so it sharpens up, we can learn from it, and therefore, the designs in other places are more accurate. So for us, it’s a long term engagement.” – Jason Hayward-Jones
Other Points Discussed
Koen and Jason also talked about:
To know more about Jason Hayward-Jones and RegenFARM Ltd, download and listen to this episode:
For the first time in Nigeria, marking an important milestone in the booming regenerative agriculture sector, RegenFARM has used satellite data to produce an Artificial Intelligence generated design plotting a regenerative agroforestry system. Using P.A. Yeomans ‘key-point’ and ‘key-line’ principles a landscape scale design including cultivation lines on contour, multi-species tree planting, and water storage infrastructure was produced in the UK for use in Nigeria.
In 45C heat, the design was ground truthed on the 450ha Bebeji Farm, in Kano, Nigeria. Bebeji is part of an 8,000ha project involving small holder farmers. The AI generated design was found to be accurate to within 0.1m, and groundwork will begin shortly to turn the design into reality.
Jason Hayward-Jones, Founder and CEO of RegenFARM Ltd said, “It works! Our technology developers started from scratch to write proprietary algorithm code that not only produced an accurate result which reflects a realistic plan for development, but also is able to develop pricing for the design and an implementation plan. This is a significant achievement in the evolution of our unique platform, with technology design and development work taking place simultaneously in Nigeria and the UK.”
Jason added; “Working in collaboration with our business partners in UK and Nigeria we are making progress to accurately measuring, rather than modelling, soil carbon sequestration”.
RegenFARM’s regenerative agriculture landscape design tool, a break-through in the sector, using AI is quicker, more accurate and more cost effective than using conventional farm design resources. It allows large scale bankable projects to be developed so the benefits of regenerative agriculture can be brought to large numbers of farmers, whatever their location.
On the back of this milestone technological development RegenFARM is launching an equity investment round to further develop its proprietary technology and expand its operations in the UK and overseas.
Alhaji Tajuddeen Dantata, owner of Bebeji Farm, and Chairman and CEO of Dantata Foods and Allied Products (DFAP) Ltd, recently voted Industrialist of the Year, whose company is off-taking food products from thousands of small holder farmers in Nigeria to convert their production into regenerative agriculture and make the supply chains more resilient to climate change, said, “Our joint venture with RegenFARM in Nigeria is pioneering regenerative agriculture in Nigeria, and the benefits will flow to all stakeholders involved”.
RegenFARM and DFAP recently formed a joint venture in Nigeria; Dantata RegenAg Ltd, which will take the lead in promoting regenerative agriculture design in Nigeria and the region.
RegenFARM started its business journey at the University of Exeter Science Park Setsquared Program and the Environmental and Big Data Impact Lab. RegenFARM is a graduate of the inaugural Rothamsted Research Shake Climate Challenge and AgRIA Programs.
Africa’s leading food processing and Agribusiness companies, Dantata Foods and Allied Products Company Limited (Nigeria) has signed a partnership deal with the UK – based innovative and Agric-technology firm RegenFARM Limited and the Foreign and Commonwealth Development Office of the British Government under its Agricultural sector intervention (LINKS Project) on Regenerative Agriculture in Nigeria.
This tripartite partnership is aimed at increasing quality food production, enhancing export opportunities of Nigeria’s Agricultural commodities and improve the soil fertility, nutrients content and organic matter. Over two hundred thousand farmers (200,000) would be engaged through the initiative on a long-term basis across a number of Nigerian states; which includes Kano, Cross River, Jigawa, Kaduna, Bauchi, Katsina, Kebbi, Benue, Niger and Plateau.
A technology platform has been developed and it is designed to assist with the management of various food value chains, offering complete traceability from farmers to end-users (customers).
It is a fact that Nigeria faces the challenges of soil degradation through flooding, erosion and continued cultivation which led to lower productivity of farm produce in the country; the consistent application of inorganic fertilizer, pesticides and weed control chemicals have been discovered to have negative implication to the sustainability of farm lands over the years.
With a financing commitment from The Central Bank of Nigeria under the Prime Anchor Borrowers Programme, the consortium of private sector and government bodies would rollout an innovative approach to support smallholder farmers on the new technics of Regenerative Agriculture practices in the country.
Farmers, and the real land assets under their management, represent a massive natural capital sector of the global economy where significant productivity reserves lay untapped, but equally significant obstacles to growth are present and uptake of new research and the use of data is slow.
The potential to use IoT, big data, artificial intelligence, algorithmic analysis and machine learning to develop simulated regenerative agriculture designs and practices to identify and unlock productivity reserves is enormous.
The ‘sleeping giant’ of farm productivity will be regenerated and provide economic benefits along the supply chain, and environmental and social benefits for all our communities.
The project will develop a platform and IoT interface to link existing and ongoing regenerative agriculture research projects and data with farmers in UK. Dr Adrian Collins has expressed interest in linking 3,000 farmers currently in the Rothamsted Research network in UK to the proposed platform and use it as an outreach tool to encourage a wider uptake of regenerative agriculture practices. This is in line with the DEFRA ‘Public Money for Public Goods’ scheme which is being developed and allows farmers, Rothamsted Research and government departments to assess different options for on-farm benefits. Close collaboration will take place between RegenFARM and the Rothamsted Research North Wyke Farm Platform to develop algorithmic tools and an IoT network for simulation of on-farm design options using digital twins for the farmers in the network. The IoT platform will change the relationship between farmers, research and data, and how information is viewed, simulated and ultimately how food is produced. The result will be increased farmer access to and uptake of regenerative agriculture research and its implementation on Rothamsted Research’s network of farms in the UK.
Jason Hayward-Jones and I have been working with each other for about a decade.
Since then Jason has moved back to his home country of the UK and in the last few years has established the RegenFARM Platform in conjunction with partners such as the University of Exeter and the 175 year old Rothamsted Research.
As Regrarians' UK partner, we look forward to catching up with Jason next month when we're based in the UK for April and exploring how Regrarians can help build on the efforts that Jason and his partners have already kicked off.
Darren Doherty, Regrarians, March 2019
RegenFARM, Rothamsted Research and the University of Exeter are working together on a project that applies a regenerative agriculture approach to farming, enabling farmers to optimise their practice, both environmentally and economically. This proven approach will ultimately change the way that food is produced globally.
Regenerative Agriculture is a system of farming principles and practices that increases biodiversity,enriches soils, improves watersheds, and enhances ecosystem services.
Jason Hayward-Jones Director of RegenFARM is an agribusiness and agri-tech consultant and is developing a platform through which farmers can adopt a new approach to farming.
As part of the platform, The University of Exeter and Rothamsted Research have joined forces with RegenFARM to create a digital decision-support tool, enabling farmers to access data, advice and support, and a range of other useful resources.
Ralph Ledbetter from the University of Exeter has been providing data and technical expertise for the tool. Ralph explained: “The tool can interpret a vast amount of data from farmers’ land, for example; contours, channels, land cover and rivers. This information can be valuable for the farmers in ascertaining the best use for their land, according to its characteristics. The tool can take regenerative agriculture farming techniques and show where they are best applied. We currently have two case study farms, an arable farm in Okehampton and a dairy farm in Wiltshire. It would easily take 1-2 years as a business to establish what the demonstrator has accomplished through our collaboration in just a few months. We are showcasing the principles of what we are trying to create and making it tangible to our users.”
RegenFARM Director, Jason Hayward-Jones, whose education at Seale Hayne Agricultural College and extensive consulting experience working with development organisations, and commercial farming operations, alongside his previous work in Australia has helped to shape the RegenFARM concept said: “Australia’s uptake of regenerative agriculture has been quick, out of necessity to critical and immediate climate change factors. The UK is also now starting to experience the effects of climate change as we saw last summer during the very dry conditions and the UK farming industry has some catching-up to do. The approach is simple but fundamental; RegenFARM allows food producers to make the best use of their natural assets, and make their business more resilient for the future. RegenFARM allows users to create a digital version of their farm and see how different risk scenarios affect the farm and business. The farm design tool is unique, and allows the integration of other agritech innovations on the market on to its platform, offering the next generation of farmers an alternative, regenerative way to produce food.
Professor Adrian Collins of Rothamsted Research explained their part in the project: “The principal role of Rothamsted Research has been to bring expert knowledge of the agricultural sector and available interventions for improving sustainability, along with Geographic Information Systems (GIS) skills for constructing some of the functionality underpinning the demonstrator tool.”
Remarking on the unique collaboration Adrian continued: “The Impact Lab brought together local scientific and business partners to ensure that scientific knowledge is converted into a user-friendly demonstrator tool for informing the consideration and uptake of regenerative agricultural interventions at a critical juncture for agri-policy in the UK and beyond.”
There is significant demand to further develop the demonstrator tool and expand its reach. The implications of which could have substantial impact on the agricultural and agri-tech sector.
As Adrian explained: “With BREXIT, the UK has an opportunity to re-focus agri-policy and to ensure that modern farming delivers both private good to farmers but also valuable public goods to wider society. Underpinning both is the need for fundamental regenerative farming practices to ensure that critical resources including soil and water are placed at the heart of farm management to assist their protection and preservation for current and future generations. The demonstrator tool illustrates example regenerative agricultural practices to instigate dialogue between farmers and their advisors, with a view to improving farm incomes and public service delivery. Critically, the demonstrator tool examines the scope for regenerative farming at both farm and landscape scales in example locations since both are inextricably linked in the quest for improved public and private goods from farmed land."
Jason Hayward-Jones concluded: “To get our tool to a Minimum Viable Product (MVP) we need £1M of investment in grant and equity. We’ve had a fantastic network of support so far from the Impact Lab and its partners, alongside SETsquared Exeter, Stephens Scown and Innovate2Succeed. Initial response has been really encouraging. We recognise that the next generation of farmers are tech savvy and want support to be relevant to them, so their legacy can continue. In time, we can begin to roll out the decision support tool globally and support family and commercial farmers across the world who we will rely on to feed us in the future.”
Jason summarised: “What we offer is really important to farmers ‘at the coalface’ of climate change. They can choose to contribute to climate change, or to solve it and adopt more regenerative ways. There are three simple things RegeFARM can help farmers do: Grow Healthy Food, Regenerate Your Soil, and Make More Money.
For the full article click on this link: https://www.impactlab.org.uk/case-studies/changing-the-way-food-is-produced