The tailored roadmap to regenerative farming
During our 2020 Global Grand Final they pitched themselves to win 2nd place. An amazing accomplishment considering the fact that the project was only born last June. We are of course talking about SOSEI from Uruguay.
What they do? SOSEI provides tailored solutions to help farmers ease into regenerative agriculture. Conventional agriculture relies deeply on chemical inputs. Regenerative agriculture ensures productivity and sustainable profit by promoting good soil health while dropping chemical input quantity. Crops and grasslands become more resilient and self-reliant for nutrient uptake and pest control. However, the transition can be bumpy and downright ineffective without a good roadmap. SOSEI helps farmers tailor such a transition roadmap, and provides the products and services to implement it.
SOSEI’s co-founder Magdalena Iturria talks to us about their idea, the journey so far and future plans.
Tell us a bit more about SOSEI and how it got started.
Magdalena: “I have a background in sustainability and climate change, and I have three kids. I have always been very committed to leaving a better world for the next generation. My co-founder and I had come to notice the urgency to adapt agriculture practices to the rising climate challenges. Although I had a very safe job as environmental engineer that I liked, I wasn’t getting the changes that I thought were needed, so a year ago I decided to quit and do something about it myself. And here we are now.
“Our activity lifts barriers for farmers, we make it easy.”
My cofounder and I had been working together on agriculture and soil health projects for some time, so we had a very comprehensive take on the issues farmers are facing regarding soil health, we had identified the barriers that kept them from adopting regenerative methods. Up until June this year SOSEI as such was an idea of the solution for us… an inspiring Japanese term that loosely means “regeneration brought about by the synergy of a great team”. Through ClimateLaunchpad training, in two months we managed to shape our solution into a viable business model, one that we truly believe in.
Our activity lifts barriers for farmers, we make it easy. We address several sustainable development goals regarding food security through resilient crops, clean water by reducing nutrient leachate into waterways and climate action through carbon sequestration in the soils.“
How did you find out about ClimateLaunchpad?
Magdalena smiles: “It was fate. I was going through a transition, after previous project had gone sour, so I was asking myself what the next step was, how to shape our project. A blank slate, so to speak. Then on a sunny day I was outside in the garden when I opened my Facebook and saw an ad for ClimateLaunchpad. ‘Do you have a green business idea?’ it read. ‘Definitely yes’ I thought. ‘I do have an idea. Maybe it isn´t a business model yet, but I do have an idea’.”
“In two months we managed to shape our idea into a viable business model.”
“So I just filled in the application form on my cell phone right then and there. It was great to get accepted in the program. ClimateLaunchpad really helped us build our business model, put together an excellent team and get our vision up and running.
The challenge is that famers are not eager to pay for technical consulting services, so if we want to bring a real change into agriculture, we need to bring more than advice. We need to offer the entire package. We worked really hard on pinning down a business model that would work for us and be welcomed by the farmers. That’s how we came to the present concept where we offer turnkey solutions based on soil biology modulation. We design specific regeneration packages for different purposes and soils, and we supply the tools and products they need. We have commercial alliances with different suppliers.
We bring it all together. When you combine the right seeds, products, and management practices, you can activate soil biology to gets the real results and really become regenerative. We help farmers to be successful that way. We work closely with the farmer to get the optimal results. We also offer soil monitoring services so we know what that particular farm needs to make the transition.
Farmers realise that the current production models are not sustainable, they are worried about their livelihood and profits. They want to do things differently, but often they don’t have a plan. That is where we come in, we tailor a plan for them with the technology and the know-how, and we’ll bring it to them as a package. We want to be the bridge in the transition to help farmers go from here to there.”
What has been the biggest mind shift during your ClimateLaunchpad journey?
“Before ClimateLaunchpad, it was just a concept. An idea that we were in love with and believed in. But it was just inside our heads and hearts. We had the knowledge and experience, but we knew that offering consultancy to farmers would just not do the job. During the Boot Camps and National Finals I had a really hard time. I knew we had to shape our idea, but did not see the way forward yet.
After we won 1st place in the National Finals, I realised that we really might have something here. We were really a big step closer to making SOSEI real. The support was great, our National Lead Juliette was key in specific moments.”
What was the hardest part of your journey so far?
“The hardest part was the first part of the process in the national stage. We knew we wanted to be the bridge for farmers, but how to shape that bridge was so unclear. I was really nervous at the time, I am not used to not knowing. I’ve always been a good student, but now I felt like I was the worst in the class. It was really a test for the confidence and trust in our team.”
“I feel like I’ve finally found my crowd.”
“Santiago Centena is my co-founder. He has a lot of experience in agriculture and livestock farming. And he is also very creative, always thinking about new ways and new technologies. He has so much potential to share, an this competition was just what we needed, to focus and channel all of this creativity into a systematic approach. We made great progress and are already getting great results.“
What has joining ClimateLaunchpad brought you?
“On a personal level it has been so rewarding. Not just because of all the learning we did, but also the number of people that we met along the way with the same mind-set. That has been amazing. To grow and to learn together.
I feel like I’ve finally found my crowd where I can discuss my idea. They just get it and help me develop it further. I have never felt like that before in my whole life. People usually look funny at me when I start talking about my concerns and ideas. Getting all of this validation has been huge, it’s been very empowering.”
What’s next for your business?
“We are looking at different grants to prototype our services for farmers. The main challenge is figuring out how to make more money flow through the project. Regenerative farmers will benefit from reduced costs and better yields, but they should also be rewarded for their efforts on providing ecosystemic services.
Sharing knowledge and experience is also a huge necessity. We are looking to partner with Circular Influence to use their digital platform so we can train farmers with workshops and courses.
In 5 years we hope to have this network of regeneration in place, not only in Uruguay, but in the region, and hopefully in the world. We want to be the go-to name, the reference point whenever you think about regenerative farming.”
Want to know more? Watch The Global Grand Final pitch of SOSEI:Tags: cleantech, Climate Change, ecosystem, Global Grand Final, global impact