SoilMate’s Weekly News Digest #32
Today’s agenda: 2021 trends in agritech/foodtech investment, innovative research in reducing carbon footprint, solar geoengineering in protecting crops from climate change, and many more!
2021 will mark a new record for investment in the agfoodtech industry!
Agrifoodtech’s startups worldwide raised $24 billion in the first half of 2021, which is very close to the total for all of 2020.
E-Grocery remains the most-funded category this half of the year, accounting for 23% of the investment, followed by Midstream Technologies with 15% and In-Store Retail & Restaurant Tech with 13%. The latter have risen this year after worldwide blocking orders were revoked on Covid-19. Restaurants and retailers used technology to adapt to the new paradigm involving fewer wait staff and socially distanced operations.
Research: Insect protein has great potential for reducing the carbon footprint
Researchers from the University of Helsinki and the University of LUT, Finland, have analyzed the extent to which insect protein can help reduce global warming associated with food consumption in Europe. They paid particular attention to the use of insect and soybean proteins in broiler production. “Our results indeed suggest that it is more sustainable to use insect protein for food rather than to use it to replace soybean meal in animal feed. We found that switching to low-value food industry products in insect production for chicken feed is key to decisively increasing the carbon footprint benefits of using insect protein rather than soybean meal protein,” says Professor Bodo Steiner from the Faculty of Agriculture and Forestry, University of Helsinki, Finland.
Carbon capture grows more affordable
Researchers from the Department of Energy’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory developed a method to convert captured carbon dioxide (CO2) into methane, the main component of natural gas. By optimizing the long-term process of converting CO2 to methane, the new method of researchers reduces the number of materials needed to conduct a reaction, the energy required to feed it, and ultimately the release price of the gas. Compared to the traditional method, the new process requires an initial investment of 32 percent less. Operating and maintenance costs are reduced by 35 percent, resulting in a 12 percent reduction in the price of synthetic natural gas.
Solar geoengineering to protect crops from global warming
Research from the Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS) finds that solar geoengineering can be surprisingly effective in mitigating some of the worst effects of global warming on crops. They considered three types of solar geoengineering: stratospheric aerosol, increased sea sky brightness, and thinning of cirrus clouds. They also studied their impact on global corn, sugar cane, wheat, rice, soybean, and cotton yields in the “business-as-usual future” when emissions remain at current levels.