Chaseman Spotlights

Gaïago

Gaïago - Gaining ground in the field of Climate Agriculture

As part of an ongoing series, Chaseman Global shines a Spotlight on the innovative businesses in Agriculture that are making a positive impact on the environment and future sustainability of our planet.

In this edition, we dig into Gaïago, the biotechnology innovators striving to revitalise the world's soils and agrosystems whilst also looking at ways to positively impact climate change.

Michel Funfschilling

"We are changing Agriculture practices to allow the high quality of food yields to feed the population while preserving the main asset: Soil and life. It gives our staff everyday fire in the belly."

Michel Funfschilling

CEO, Gaïago

Who are Gaïago?

With a name that stems from the Greek deity 'Gaia', the goddess of Earth, and 'go', meaning 'go fight for Earth, Gaïago is a biotechnology company striving to create a more sustainable planet by revitalising the Earth's soils and combat climate change. 

Established in St Malo, Brittany, France, in 2014, the company was created by Samuel Marquet and Francis Bucaille, farmers and soil experts. In 2019, a team led by Jean-Pierre Princen, former global executive at Monsanto and Dupont de Nemours in Europe and ex-CEO of Goemar / Arysta Biosolutions, joined the founders to scale up the company. Jean -Pierre is currently the President of the company. In 2022, Michel Funfschilling joined the company as CEO. Michel brought his expertise in international expansion and company structuration from the Cleantech sector. 

Gaïago's team is on board with the mission to positively disrupt the Agriculture sector and truly make a difference. Charles Vaury, Gaïago's Chief Transition Officer, would echo the company's mission by saying: "We are not looking for people whose main driver is money only. We are looking for people who are wanting to make an impact on Agriculture."

The global problem

Today, a third or 66% of the planet's agricultural soils are degraded, with fertile soil being lost at a rate of 24bn tonnes per year. This troublesome finding by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations is having a drastic effect on the planet and the global population.

The world's population is predicted to reach over 9 billion people in less than 40 years, and the demand for food is expected to be 60-100% higher than it is today, all contributing to a global food crisis. With that said, without an abundance of healthy soils available to grow the necessary crops we need to survive makes the 2050 food shortage a very real and very looming problem.

Not only do we need to address the issue with Earth's soils, but the issues we're facing from a climate change standpoint is also something we cannot forget. For example, although we witnessed a 5.8% decrease in the amount of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions in 2020, partly due to the COVID-19 pandemic, 2021 saw a 5% rebound in CO2 emissions. 

To put this into perspective, soils have released about 200 Gtons of CO2 since the beginning of the industrial revolution. This represents about 5 years of current CO2 emissions. And the good news is that this carbon can be sequestered again.

Michel Funfschilling

Michel Funfschilling

CEO


"The construction of healthy, fertile and sustainable Agriculture is a necessity to contribute to the agroecological transition in the world. I want to bring my experience in the growth and structuring of impact businesses will help implement our business plan to serve the agricultural world, agri-food sectors and the planet."

Gaïago’s Innovative Solutions

Ultimately, humanity cannot thrive without healthy soils, and unless we take forceful actions to tackle climate change, the future of our Earth is in serious doubt. Thankfully, Gaïago's solutions to revitalise soils and combat climate change through carbon sequestration are plotting a potential comeback for our planet.

Let's dig into Gaïago's solutions below.

The Products Changing the Landscape of Agriculture

Humanity thrives when soils thrive. This mantra that Gaïago prides itself on is echoed by the four innovative solutions they have developed to restore the Earth's soil and agrosystems. 

When asked about the thought process behind these products, Charles said: "One thing is very important to keep in mind is that we start at the beginning. What is the beginning? It's soil. In fact, for 50 years, what we called the green revolution, with all the chemicals coming into Agriculture, we forgot about soil. 

Soils were treated as a substrate: you just feed the N PK (nitrogen(N), phosphorus (P) and potassium (K) nutrients) that the crop needs and then the crop will grow. But we never cared about the soil.

At Gaïago, we are working on soil revitalisation to make crops healthier, to be able to fight better and to allow biocontrol for crop protection to work correctly."

Gaïago's synergistic pre and probiotic products have been tried and tested through thousands of trials. The products are composed of a recipe of natural elements, to which only three members of the Gaïago family know the secret formula for effective use on all soil and crop types.

"Having good soils is the basis of fighting the food crisis. That’s very important. But it’s also the basis for fighting climate change because you can sequester carbon."

Charles Vaury

Chief Transition Officer, Gaïago

"Sustainability is at the heart of Gaïago’s mission: revitalising arable soils. By restoring soils life, you have an impact on farmers’ ability to produce, on the quality of food and on the Climate Change."

Michel Funfschilling

CEO

Gaïago's Products

Gaïago's solutions target four key areas:

  1. Soil physics and function to revitalise soils
  2. Root nutrition to increase crop yield and quality 
  3. Plant physiology to increase plant resistance to stress 
  4. Seed germination to accelerate and optimise crop potential

The prebiotic of soils
The prebiotic of soils

  • Stimulates fungi
  • Boosts minerals
  • Improves soil structure in less than 6 months
  • Increases organic matter

Nitrogen-fixing probiotic
Nitrogen-fixing probiotic

  • Regulates nitrogen nutrition
  • Provides the nitrogen nutrition not included in the spreading plan.

  • Increases crop quality and yield

Root nutrition probiotic
Root nutrition probiotic

  • Improves plant mineral nutrition
  • Increases root system development
  • Optimises elements of the agricultural products (sugar content, organoleptic qualities, proteins, etc)

The global foliar prebiotic
The global foliar prebiotic

  • Promotes plant's resistance to stress
  • Improves plant growth
  • Increases the quality and yield of the crop

The seed prebiotic
The seed prebiotic

  • Promotes crop germination and strength at start-up.
  • Reduces plant sensitivity to aggression.
  • Allows optimal genetic potential in the early stages of plant growth

Gaïago produces each product in their facilities in St Malo, Brittany, with natural ingredients sourced sustainably from European wholesalers. 

The Gaïago team is always looking at ways to optimise the manufacturing process. They have already made progress with their Nutrigeo product, which was once able to produce 400,000 litres per year but can now produce 4 million litres annually.

One hundred distributors across Europe deliver the products to the farmers. Currently, Gaïago's solutions support farmers in countries including Germany, Belgium, France, Netherland, Poland, Czech, Hungary, and Slovakia - with the company looking to expand into more locations in the coming years.

Gaïago's solutions were developed with the farmers in mind. When using the products, the farmer does not need to worry about changing their farming methods, which would otherwise put producers off from using them. Instead, farmers incorporate the products into their existing practices, be it spraying the products on the soils or mixing the solutions with their insecticides and fertilisers. 

Not only does Gaïago keep life simple for farmers when it comes to the Nutrigeo product, but Gaïago has also given farmers another incentive to switch to their products. See how the plot thickens with Gaïago's second solution. 

The solution right under our feet

When developing their Nutrigeo products, the team at Gaïago discovered the positive impact their solution was having on soil and crop growth and revitalisation and the potential it had to support climate change through carbon capture and storage. 

Before we dig deeper into this, let's clarify what carbon capture or carbon sequestration is. 

Biological carbon sequestration is a process that captures and stores CO2, thanks to photosynthesis and sequesters it under Organic Matter. This process is removing CO2 from the  Earth's atmosphere. There are different types of carbon sequestration, all of which help reduce our carbon footprint, and soil plays a lead role in one of them. carbon is sequestered in the ground by plants and crops through microorganisms activity and is stored as soil organic carbon (SOC).

Nutrigeo from Gaïago stimulates soils fungi which impacts soil porosity and fertility. These fungi and other living organisms also capture the carbon coming from photosynthesis and stably keep it from returning to the atmosphere in the soil for up to 100 years. 

Essentially, the Nutrigeo product accelerates the organic matter build-up in the soil. As organic matter is essentially made from carbon, one benefit of Nutrigeo is accelerated carbon sequestration.

Before sowing in spring or autumn, farmers apply a prebiotic bio-stimulant on their fields to revitalise their soils and accelerate carbon sequestration. After applying the prebiotic, farmers experience benefits such as climate change resilience, reduced fertiliser and pesticide inputs, and stabilisation of crop yields. However, the benefits for the farmers does not stop there. 

The performance of our carbon sequestration
The performance of our carbon sequestration
The Gaïago Carbon project

Once Gaïago realised the benefits of their Nutrigeo product with carbon sequestration, they wanted to give farmers a further financial incentive to use their products and facilitate the transition to regenerative Agriculture. An incentive in the form of the Gaïago Carbon project - a carbon credit scheme whereby farmers can receive revenues from Gaiago in accordance with the carbon credits they generate. But how does this work? 

Essentially the farmers commit to using the Nutrigeo product for five years, from which Gaïago makes a profit. Then in years three and five, the soil is measured by a laboratory, according to a methodology certified by the FAO, and certified by one of the most qualitative CO2 accredited certifications globally, to see how much carbon has been sequestered. One tonne of sequestered carbon is equal to one carbon credit. 

These credits are then sold to companies in various industries who want to offset their CO2 emissions and ultimately want to be seen as carbon neutral. The special purpose company created for this carbon project does not make a profit, so the financial benefits of the credits go back to the farmers.

Charles Vaury

“Farmers are climate action heroes; that’s what we think at Gaïago.”

Charles Vaury

Chief Transition Officer, Gaïago

The programme is fully automated on Gaïago's digital platform. This tool connects to the farmers' equipment, allows for soil analysis to be monitored, and the transaction of carbon credit payments to be completed. 

The Gaïago Carbon project benefits everyone involved. Gaïago profits from selling their Nutrigeo product, and the farmers increase their soil fertility and crop yields. They receive money through sequestered carbon, and other companies can become carbon neutral. 

What's more, the farmers receive 100% of the profits from the carbon credit sales.

Charles Vaury, Chief Transition Officer, Gaïago

"One of the effects of our products is to accelerate the carbon sequestration into soils. This is a very big service that the farmers are giving to all humanity because they are helping to take out something which is an excess in the atmosphere, CO2, and are putting it into the soils for 100 years. 

So basically, farmers are climate action heroes. That's what we think at Gaïago. And for that, they should be remunerated. And we give them money back for that. The purpose of Gaïago is to maximize the revenues made available to farmers to finance the transition.”

How is Gaïago making an impact?

Gaïago is fighting the 2050 food crisis through its soil revitalisation solutions. They are agricultural pioneers, allowing farmers to increase their crop yield and ultimately produce better quality crops to help feed the planet. 

The technology, which increases carbon sequestration in agricultural soils threefold vs regenerative Agriculture practices, has been validated in Europe by trials conducted with independent partners. This rigorous testing allowed their carbon credit generation scheme to be certified by Gold Standard. Their solution is different from any existing carbon credit services or business models as it is the first to combine a soil revitalisation solution with a carbon credit platform. 

Following the recognition provided by Gold Standard, Gaiago was able to sign twenty contracts with large agricultural cooperatives to accelerate their scaling-up process.

We have to emphasise that unlike other companies in the agricultural space, whose products require farmers to adopt different practices, Gaïago's products ensure farmers can continue with the traditional farming methods - a huge incentive for farmers. Charles would add to this by saying:

Similarly, companies who have turned to their variation of the carbon credit scheme often approach this with a financial motivation, taking a percentage of the money themselves. However, Gaïago ensures the farmers receive all the profits from their collated credits. 

By 2026, The company is expected to create an estimated turnover of €135m and will revitalise a predicted 1.5 million hectares of agricultural land.

Ultimately, you cannot argue from a sustainable, moral and ethical standpoint that Gaïago's impact is highly commendable. 

“Gaïago's holistic approach brings real innovation that is profitable for farmers and virtuous for the planet. Gaïago is taking on a new dimension to deploy living Agriculture on a global scale, increasing the fertility of the land, the quality of the harvests and the profitability of farmers.”

Michel Funfschilling

CEO, Gaïago

"Today in Europe, there is no company working with technology to accelerate carbon sequestration. The current offer is based on adopting regenerative practices. They are all requesting for farmers to change the way to plough, the way to crop, the way to deal with soils - that's the way today most of the companies are acting on carbon. They are asking farmers to change practices; which is costly and difficult to implement."

Charles Vaury

Chief Transition Officer, Gaïago

What does the future hold for Gaiago?

Gaïago is indeed sowing the seeds for a brighter and more sustainable future. 

In July 2021, Gaïago signed a partnership agreement with Corteva, a major American Crop Protection company and seed organisation that has also worked with Chaseman Global. This partnership will bring a biocontrol product to the market to fight fungal diseases on crops. 

Gaïago will continue to build relationships with universities in France, UniLasalle and INRAE to help them transform, optimise and patent their existing and future products.

Additionally, Gaïago is looking to expand its international presence across Europe, with the UK as a potential target market. They will also look to take their solutions and Gaïago carbon project overseas to the US, with trials expected in the coming years.

Internally Gaïago, which initially started with four people in 2019 and have since expanded to 63 employees, will look to increase its business size by hiring an additional 150+ people by 2026. 

We at Chaseman Global would like to thank Gaïago for speaking to us and for the innovative solutions they have brought to Agriculture.

“The future is bright with the fast development of carbon farming in the world as well as Regenerative Agriculture. Innovation is a key to accelerate the expansion of those markets.”

Michel Funfschilling

CEO, Gaïago

"The main challenge, I think, is to find the right people for the right place. And for that, we were helped by helpful companies like Chaseman. I truly mean what I say, Chaseman brought a lot of expertise in the AgTech world to find the right people able to start a business from zero and to make it grow very quickly. That is the big thank you that I wanted to give to Chaseman Global."

Charles Vaury

Chief Transition Officer, Gaïago

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