With biodiversity and carbon markets set to transform the agriculture and land use sectors in the coming years, Iceni enables farmers and land managers to take action.
Iceni was founded in the face of a real-world challenge: only 2% of companies in the food, forest and land user sectors can track their environmental commitments to the farm level. Given that my brother Jamie and I grew up working in cold muddy fields for cash, this struck me. To me, farms, fields and nature are home but clearly someone was not connecting them as part of the solution to climate change and biodiversity loss.
Whilst there are still methodological challenges of measuring things like carbon and biodiversity at the farm level, what tools or solutions exist for farmers themselves to do it? Can they prove the stage they are at and demonstrate intent? The current system is slow and bureaucratic, consisting of endless expert visits and paperwork. What if we could build a digital solution to enable farmers to measure and share information on biodiversity and carbon? If this were the case, then maybe the rest of the system could rally behind those metrics and start to provide fair payments and rules for the public goods they provide.
As Jamie and I further explored the issue, it seemed everyone and their mums had an app for farmers. Universities and academics were building apps funded by one-off projects, though they often didn’t go further than the two-year funding cycle or a nice case study lost in a defunct website. Others were fancy excel spreadsheets with a polished front end. The field mapping apps were quite cool, but they don’t integrate well with all the other aspects of the system.
The Iceni approach is different. We’re integrating three core values to provide a real solution to enable farmers and land managers and the wider system.
The best tech companies solve real problems. Iceni recognises that farmers and land managers require practical solutions that are built to meet their business needs. We do this by engaging with farmers and land managers, to understand their challenges. When our contact us form is filled out, it goes directly to the inbox of our co-founders, not to a customer service agent. We are intent on communicating with and learning from our clients, thus assisting them the best we can.
Our farmers told us that they wanted to be able to identify plants easily – so we added PlantID. They wanted to more easily map fields, and we added this function in just 2 months. We’re currently working on how we can strengthen the farm management functionality of the app, to ensure it’s a whole farm business solution.
Masterpieces are not fully formed in the mind of the artist and then simply committed to the canvas. This route is long, laborious and can be extremely wasteful (if you end up painting the wrong image). We believe that it is better to start with an outline of the full image, and then refine, refine, and refine the detail until voilà – you have your masterpiece.
Our outlined version of Iceni is coming on the App store in March 2022. We’ll use this version to iterate and iterate upon. Our early adopters will be pioneers themselves, and help us shape a solution for them. We might not get everything right the first time, but we’re fully devoted to scaling a solution for our end users.
Agricultural technology is dominated by large companies, with global distribution potential. There have been some pretty damning stories about what happens with the data that those companies obtain. We recognise the pressures on farmers to disclose what they do, but we believe it should be on their terms. That’s why our network is permissioned: farmers share data with their partners, who agree not to share personal information further.
Iceni is user-centred, with our first version of our app arriving in March 2022. We’ll iterate continually to meet the needs of farmers and land managers and the wider food and land use system.
With our transparent but secure network, the government, supply chain and lenders can understand and see data that farmers agree to share. This cuts out unnecessary paperwork and shows how food producers are taking measurable steps to enhance biodiversity and sequester carbon.
Got an idea that you think we should add to our feature list? Let us know: firstname.lastname@example.org