Marc Eberle is the Founder of SmartAgro and his mission is to introduce new farming methods that benefit the planet whilst also yielding better results. One way he does this is by teaching farmers in Cambodia how to implement new cropping systems - technology plays a key role in ensuring Marc achieves the desired results.
Smart Agro are deploying a project on Task with several hundred households from indigenous minorities and Khmers living in the mountainous region of Cambodia across the provinces of Mondulkiri, Kratie and Tbong Khmum. Task is being used to track various farming processes and send rewards to farmers via the mobile app.
One process Marc teaches is the introduction of cover crops. A cover crop is a plant that is used to cover and protect the soil during the off season or when the soil would otherwise be bare and unprotected.There are many species of plants with many different ecological functions that can be used as cover crops. The main purposes are: They protect the soil from erosion and increase soil fertility and they suppress weeds.
Integrating no-till agriculture and cover crops into cropping systems is one step towards a transition to an environmentally friendly production system that can provide solutions rather than create more problems
- Marc Eberle
Challenges and opportunities with the introduction of cover crops
Access to good tools, to appropriate scale machinery and skills are some of the main challenges in the geographies Marc is focused on. So SmartAgro supports farmers in field schools and teaches them soil and water management as well as how to implement cover crops before the main crop and after the harvest of the main crop.
There are two windows per year when cover crops can be planted so that biomass is fed back into the soil, ensuring agriculture is sustainable and regenerative rather than food being extracted from the soil in a one-way street, which will ultimately deplete the soil.
On a small scale, by focusing on the immediate family of farmers, these practices help them to increase biodiversity on their fields, and by using the time window when they would normally not grow anything, they generate new revenue streams.
They can sell the seeds of cover crops or they can increase soil fertility, enhance the resilience of their farm against climate change, drought and floods, and increase the profits of their production year on year, as the soil gets more fertile and builds up more organic matter and humus which acts like a sponge for nutrients and water for plants.By using cover crops and other tools from climate-smart farming, farmers will increase their living standards and the health of their family and the environment around them. Soil and ecosystem health translates directly into economic wealth.
Other areas that Smart Argo is creating positive impact
Smart Agro also trains farmers in soil and water management and how to improve pasture cropping and holistic grazing schemes to integrate the livestock back into their cropping systems of cashew and pepper where possible. This way farmers are able to protect their soils from erosion and regenerate soil fertility, which results in higher yields and profits combined with increased ecosystem health on their farms and around them.
At the moment, conventional agriculture emits 25% of all GHGs worldwide, on the Asian continent it is 42%. If farmers stop tilling the soil and integrate cover crops, they can sequester between 1-4t CO2 from the atmosphere per hectare per year and reverse global warming depending on the scale they implement these practices on. This is a huge opportunity for humanity, society and the planet as a whole. - Marc Eberle
The future with Task and SmartAgro
Using Task in this project is another step on the way towards building a regenerative system both ecologically and economically by building direct market access for farmers and vice versa. Task is helping to create buy-in from farmers when they upload their images and fill in their data.
Task helps Marc support the farmers by delivering workshop content via the app, and in turn the app helps his team to create demand and build a market for a variety of regenerative products that help farmers make their operations more sustainable and more profitable.
Food produced with regenerative practices can be carbon negative and by monitoring and verifying the production methods step by step with Task, SmartAgro can measure impact and reward the individual farmer for their contribution incentivising change and the adoption of regenerative farming practices at the same time.
It’s great to be able to partner with Marc and his team at SmartAgro and help change farming practices, reduce CO2 emissions and support the livelihoods of the rural farming communities in Cambodia.