Climate Edge brings the concept of IoT technology to smallholder farmers who need help to improve their yield quantities due to high demand and volatile weather. This is done through Climate Edge’s NEXO weather service monitor, which measures various factors such as air temperature, rainfall, and light intensity. All of this information is then sent to their software, where farmers can access in real time and gain management advice for their farms. This allows farmers to improve and adjust their conditions in order to protect their crops from climate harm and maximize their yield and quality.
St. John's University
Climate Edge emerged when co-founders James Alden and Paul Baranowski went to the fields in Honduras to do data collection for an agricultural project for university. Gabriel Brückner mentioned, “The basic problem was that they were doing everything manually although it could easily be done through an automated weather station.” At the time there was nothing available on the market that would allow automation of this kind of data. More so, Climate Edge noticed that 80% of the coffee exported from the tropics is produced on smallholder farms that have less than 4 hectares. They also were aware that the coffee demand is expected to double by 2050, whereas the land that is able to produce coffee will decrease by 50%.
Within the past few years, the climate patterns have become more volatile, which has resulted in devastating smallholder agriculture, which ends up affecting the entire value chain. Crops are extremely sensitive to weather factors, so an increase in temperature and humidity will most likely cause harvest sizes to drastically decrease. Not to mention, the quality of these crops will decrease as these factors also affect the nutrients within the crops. With all this in mind, Climate Edge sought out to help these smallholder farmers adapt to climate change while simultaneously keeping up with the demand. They introduced portable weather devices to farmers, who can put them around their crops and monitor weather factors. Climate Edge then interprets the data and gives it to the farmer to optimize their conditions for their crops in order to protect them from damage.
“Many farmers struggle to make a living; climate change adversely impacts agriculture production, and farmers responsible for the mass production of highly valuable agricultural products are without access to vital information on how to mitigate the negative repercussions they are facing.” Upon recognizing the challenges faced by smallholder farmers in underdeveloped areas, specifically fair trade coffee producers, this small team of talented individuals created a prototype to revolutionize farming and correct this inequality. In 2016, after testing a prototype for 6 months in Nicaragua, the team gained the confidence they needed to fully start up Climate Edge; both the proof of concept and cooperative demand were realized.
Climate Edge has since expanded upon this concept, creating a product and service that helps to inform, connect, and correct. The Climate Edge NEXO is a simple and low-cost weather station that collects and measures key climatic data. Through big data analytics made possible by the Climate Edge Cloud, such data is being transferred to scientific research teams who communicate valuable information to farmers on how to best adapt to climate changes. Climate Edge also provides a management application tool called Farm Tracker, software allowing farmers to monitor conditions with helpful visuals and metrics. Climate alerts and specialized adaptation practices allow for highly efficient and comprehensive data management, “bringing data to action”—smallholder farmers are now able to increase both their income and negotiating power in order to “shift the power balance a bit more to their favor.”
Climate Edge is quickly becoming an impactful factor in terms of society and business. There are millions of smallholder farmers who lack agronomic knowledge due to a "lack of access to international research” as well as technology. Additionally, their yield is directly related to their income, and climate change is affecting both. With the help of Climate Edge’s technology and resources, smallholder farmers are able to receive economic advice and loss prevention methods that will result in a better yield and quality in crops, despite the climate change occurring. “[Climate Edge] provides economic service in order to increase quality and yield for smallholder farmers, and that could obviously have a huge benefit on their income on negotiating power towards suppliers and traders and basically shift the power balance to their favor.” They are already working in partnership with Fairtrade International, HRNS, Lutheran World Relief, and the CLAC Nicaragua. Their hardware has been trialed on 10 Fairtrade farms, and their software will be trialed on more farms with HRNS. These channels help them access larger numbers of farmers and provides a route to scale.
In terms of short-term effects, smallholder farmers will be able to quickly protect their most vulnerable crops during volatile weather due to the information Climate Edge will provide them due to their analytics. This will help improve smallholder farmers quality and yield, which would, in turn, affect their income. In terms of long-term effects, these farmers will become more educated on agronomy and prevention techniques that will help keep their yields high. Additionally, with the help of Climate Edge, these farmers could eventually have more of a say in terms of business due to these increased yields, which could then possibly keep up with demands. However, since Climate Edge is still so young, it is certainly exciting to see the increasing impact they will have on the agriculture industry.
Climate Edge’s current market consists of about 180,000 producers and through their services, Climate Edge estimates that the changes they suggest can result in an increase in a farmer's yield of up to 25%. Additionally, their loss prevention can be maximized for up to 75%. This can overall preserve revenue, provide access to specialty markets, and improve agricultural production. Climate Edge's model can be utilized in various sectors, which will ultimately increase profit for their company.
As mentioned before, a large demand for certain goods, such as coffee, is exported from smallholder farms under extreme weather changes. If farmers experience weather harmful to their crops, then exports become smaller, causing those importing to not be able to keep up with the demand, thus losing money. Climate Edge is beneficial to the society as it helps smallholder farmers, and businesses associated with them, stay profitable.
Gabriel Brückner, Lead Designer
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Business Website: https://www.climate-edge.com
Year Founded: 2015
Number of Employees: 2 to 10
Climate Edge helps farmers gather the information they would need in order to adapt to climate change. Their agriculture-specific weather stations (NEXOs) help monitor changes on-farm as well as gather data. Its software then interprets this data and turns it into valuable climate-smart adaption information for smallholder farmers.