FarmLab: Helping Improve Efficiency, Scale, and Impact for Clients in Three Real-World Case Studies

FarmLab brings together an ecosystem of consultants, samplers and environmental testing labs to help farmers access and analyze their data. This allows us to deliver environmental projects efficiently, at scale, and with impact – all whilst still providing quality assurance and quality control over the data we collect. Here are three short case studies of how we’ve done this over the past year:

Case Study 1: Providing Efficiency in Crop Protection

In 2022, Syngenta, a global crop protection company approached FarmLab with a daunting task: conducting extensive disease detection across 50 vineyards in South Australia. The challenge was twofold—samples needed to be collected, submitted to a genomic testing lab, and results geolocated and returned to growers, all within a tight timeline to allow for timely disease management.

How FarmLab Delivered Operational Efficiency:

FarmLab initiated the project by procuring and distributing sample kits to participating growers. These kits were complemented by detailed instructions tailored to in-field measurement requirements, all seamlessly integrated into our user-friendly sample collection app. Empowered with these tools, growers were able to function as samplers, autonomously collecting leaf tests across various blocks on their farms.

Once collected, growers mailed the samples to the designated lab for testing. This significantly reduced the burden and overhead for Syngtena around coordinating logistics and accessing growers themselves. Relevant data such as chemical application and disease location were meticulously recorded in our mobile app and was delivered to the Syngenta crop protection team, providing them with an accurate assessment of the ground reality.

Results and Impact:

As data flowed back over subsequent weeks, the Syngenta team was able to make split-second decisions on where and how to address disease risks to their crops. In some cases, this proactive approach yielded significant benefits for farmers, enabling them to mitigate the impact of diseases prior to harvest.

The success of this project solidified FarmLab’s partnership with Syngenta, paving the way for future collaborations. With plans to expand the program across more crops and regions in Australia, FarmLab continues to demonstrate its commitment to delivering operational efficiency and impactful solutions in crop protection.

Case Study 2: Scaling Environmental Initiatives with UQ

The University of Queensland (UQ) embarked on a groundbreaking endeavor as part of the National Soil Carbon Innovation Challenge—to baseline soil carbon across Australia by sampling and baselining 430 farms nationwide. FarmLab was tasked with supporting this ambitious project, aiming to improve understanding and reduce measurement costs from $20 per hectare.

How FarmLab Achieved Scale:

FarmLab wasted no time in mobilizing resources for this significant undertaking. In early 2023, upon being awarded the grant, FarmLab engaged partners within its ecosystem and worked closely with the Landcare National Farming coordinator to recruit the necessary farmers. The response exceeded expectations, with all 430 spots filled by October of the same year.

Over 430 farmers registered via the FarmLab website for the UQ program in the first 3 months.

From July to December, FarmLab coordinated an army of soil samplers across Australia, equipping them with a specific protocol tailored to the University’s needs. Meanwhile, on the laboratory front, FarmLab streamlined processes to ensure throughput management. By leveraging our platform, we provided an improved chain of custody and administration process, ensuring samples could be tested efficiently and results returned seamlessly.

Results and Impact:

The outcomes speak for themselves—over half of the target farms were sampled, with more than 1,800 results delivered to the University and Australian government by December 2023. Notably, FarmLab achieved a remarkable reduction in measurement costs, from $20 per hectare to $15 per hectare. Through fixed contracts, standardized processes, and a comprehensive platform, FarmLab continues to drive down costs and enhance scalability in environmental initiatives.

Case Study 3: Driving Impact in the Fashion Industry

An international project developer approached FarmLab with a unique challenge—to support the measurement of sustainable farming practices for their partner, a high-end fashion brand looking to source sustainable wool for their supply chain. The goal was to collect scientifically backed data to justify sustainability claims and avoid greenwashing.

How FarmLab Delivered Impact:

FarmLab collaborated closely with the company’s science team to develop a robust protocol that combined remote sensing and on-ground measurements. Despite initial skepticism, FarmLab showcased the scientific background behind the tools, rooted in digital soil mapping techniques developed in conjunction with university researchers and institutions across Australia.

The process entailed a comprehensive survey of a farmer from the brand’s supply chain. This involved conducting a stratification of their land to break it up into common soil types, production, and carbon. Remote sensing data was then utilized to infer management history before a farm visit was conducted.

While on the farm, the sampling team utilized the FarmLab mobile app to collect samples and photos, ensuring data integrity and efficiency. These samples were subsequently submitted to the lab for testing, with maps of soil and biodiversity across the farm generated.

Results and Impact:

The data collected played a pivotal role in enabling our client to construct a reward recognition program in Australia, supporting wool growers in improving or sustaining good environmental stewardship. The success of the program was further evidenced by plans to expand it across the brand’s base of wool growers in Australia. FarmLab continues to drive impactful change by facilitating transparency and accountability within supply chains, underscoring our commitment to delivering tangible outcomes in environmental stewardship.

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