Forecast Recognition

Iron Man might just have become Climate Man.

Robert Downey, Jr.’s venture fund was one of several to take part in a $12M Series A round for forecast-focused startup ClimateAi. The new tech tool aims to help make agriculture more profitable and food systems more resilient through artificial intelligence climate forecasting.

Learning about clouds on the cloud: So meta. Farmers know weather is a main hurdle to jump each year. Talks about climate change are like the temperatures predicted: on the uptick.

The World Meteorological Organization predicts a 90% likelihood we’ll see the hottest year on record between 2021 and 2025. Looking forward to it…?

Climate Avengers: ClimateAi hopes to help the agricultural supply chain predict the weather to help minimize its climate risk exposure. Their science aims to forecast extreme weather events more than two weeks before they occur, thanks to machine learning and loads of data points.

This is the same technology that powers successful rocket launches. You’re welcome, Jeff Bezos

Specifically, this could help the food supply chain by:

  • Identifying new locations for climate-smart expansions for specific crops and ingredients
  • Managing inventory better to avoid shortages
  • Forecasting pressures from pests and diseases

SoundbAite: “ClimateAi is a platform that provides long-term insights into weather and climate impacts, providing businesses the information they need today to take the actions needed now to adapt to the climate disruptions of tomorrow.” – Jon Schulhof, co-founder of FootPrint Coalition Ventures.

Taking it global: ClimateAi has ambitious goals to be deployed across half a billion acres of farmland around the world in the next three years.

Carbon: The Next Cash Crop

Nutrien, the world’s largest provider of crop inputs and services, isn’t joking around when it comes to the $215 billion carbon market.

The ag retail king is rolling out a pilot program targeting 100,000 acres in 2021 to drive growers to sell environmental credits they rack up through using ‘climate-friendly’ products and services.

It’s a two pronged approach:

  1. First, Nutrien will ramp up their offerings of sustainable products – think time-controlled nitrogen fertilizer – while pushing agronomic services and a platform to track and measure the success of those sustainability efforts.
  2.  Then, Nutrien will facilitate a marketplace where growers can monetize their sustainability gains by selling carbon credits to other players in the value chain.

“We want to change carbon from becoming what it is today, an expense, to a revenue,”
noted Nutrien President and CEO, Chuck Magro.

So let’s do the math: Nutrien expects the program could boost a farmer’s income by $50 per acre. That pencils out to $20 coming from carbon credits while $30 stems from productivity and yield gains.

With an estimated 100 million metric tons of carbon annually holed up in U.S. cropland, there is money to be made assuming buyers show up to the market.

With a market opportunity this big, Nutrien is already playing catch up:

→ Indigo Ag launched its Terraton Initiative using open-source experiments and grower competitions to promote adoption
Seattle-startup Nori and Granular teamed up to scale a blockchain-backed marketplace
Bayer is using its Climate data platform for carbon crediting and promoting climate-smart practices
And there are sure to be more entrants elbowing their way to this crowded carbon dinner table.

The outlook: In 2030, we all may be reading the ‘carbon case study’ on who won the race to help producers reduce greenhouse gases, sequester carbon, and profit from it. Until then, grower adoption and monetization will be the keys to which ag juggernaut will lead the pack.