Biome Makers Blog

Navigating Supply Chain Resilience in Agriculture


Resilience and sustainability go hand-in-hand as we consider how to make supply chains more efficient, but also future-proof them against continuous and one-off challenges. While all supply chain stakeholders tackle a diverse set of challenges, little do they know the impact that soil evaluation can have on the food supply chain at large. 

The nutritional quality of soil is crucial for the success of the entire value chain, making soil testing essential for building resilience. Businesses in the food sector need insights into their production processes. A scientific approach to analyzing soil and crops leads to a more informed supply chain. 

Understand Supply Chain Challenges and Resilience

For Biome Makers’ clients, understanding risks no matter where they position themselves in the supply chain is imperative. Disease and weather conditions can traumatize farmer operations. However bleak a scenario may look, there are always ways in which farmers can reduce the impact that global events and harsh weather conditions have on them, one of which is by increasing their resilience. 

What is resilience?

Building resilience means understanding and addressing the issues in your field, such as drought and poor soil drainage during heavy rainfall. These problems can be mitigated by reducing climate impact and improving soil quality. While global warming is a major challenge, the immediate focus for farmers is on withstanding current climate shifts.

This requires a holistic insight into the global challenges and incoming pressures on crops. Through measurement, reporting and verification (MRV), US states are beginning to address their unique conditions and understand the patterns that lead to poor performance—i.e. Damage to crops, soil erosion, and the increased chance of crop pest problems and diseases. This makes a case for soil testing as it can share greater insight into the biological makeup of farmers’ fields. 

According to the UN, around 60% to 70% of the planet’s soil is deemed “unhealthy”—healthy soil efficiently filters water, retains and produces key nutrients, and enhances the effectiveness of agricultural inputs. The two main factors in nutritional quality being the mineral and biological content in soil, Meri Mullins, US Global Accounts Director at Biome Makers, explains in the Decoding Soil and Agriculture podcast that mineral content is often suitable yet the biological content of soil is not.  

“Everyone talks about how nutrient density has gone down in all our food, fruit, vegetables, meat, all of it. A lot of folks talk about it being because the soil is depleted of chemistry. But when I started looking at soil reports at a biological—and chemical—level, most soils are not depleted of minerals. There are some missing, but most soils are biologically depleted.” 

 Meri Mullins Quote about Supply Chain Resilience in Agriculture

Having spoken a lot about farmers as the initial producers, consumer packaged goods (CPG) companies also benefit from this understanding as an integral piece of analysis on their upstream supply chain. Inevitably, insight into farmers' operations and success plays into their hands as they build that all-important resilience. 

The level of detail required by farmers won’t necessarily be relevant to CPGs, but they require enough data to determine products will be available within their deadlines, meet their quality standards and, in today’s world, produce low-to-no emissions. 

Exploring Scope 3 Emissions in Agriculture

While Scope 3 emissions reduction is an important action for all businesses, in the food industry this starts from the top of the supply chain. While CPGs can grasp emissions in Scope 1 (direct emissions for their operations) and Scope 2 (indirect GHGs associated with the energy they use), broadening their understanding of the entire supply chain requires collaboration and insight.

Defining the scope of emissions

Scope 1: Direct emissions resulting from assets and sources that are owned or controlled by the reporting company. 

Scope 2: Indirect emissions associated with the consumption of purchased energy, including electricity, steam, heating, and cooling.

Scope 3: All indirect emissions resulting from assets and operations not owned or controlled by the company. This excludes Scope 1 and Scope 2. 

As customers begin to demand more insight into where their food comes from and how it reaches their plate, the pressure comes from downstream, making it more crucial for businesses to take action. 

The health of the soil can impact the success of the entire supply chain in their efforts to reduce emissions in Scope 3—the emissions not produced by one's company or directly by its owned assets or operations. This is where we see a stronger emphasis on farmers to reduce their emissions, as this counts within the Scope 3 reporting of CPGs and other food and drink businesses. Moreover, agriculture is also one of the world’s greatest emitters of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, accounting for around a quarter of them—much of this being the release of nitrous oxide from soil. 

Notably, crops that require little tenure will cause farmers to emit fewer emissions, as crop disturbance is known to release GHGs. However, enabling low-or-no till farming, as an example, requires soil to be healthy—full of nutrients to keep it rich and humus. This is often conducive to biodiversity and minimal disruption to the soil, which are two things historically lacking in commercial agriculture. 

This is where data plays a role to inform carbon reduction initiatives and soil health validation. While we’re confident that healthier soil equals minimal disruption and lower carbon emissions, accessible data holds the key to holistic insight to solidify MRV—Biome Makes offers this to allow greater communication between suppliers and customers (farmers and food manufacturers), which is key to confirming Scope 3 impact.

BeCrop® Rate Enables Supply Chain Resilience and Scope 3 Management

Implementing data from the beginning allows all businesses to stay informed, which addresses Scope 3 emissions and builds a more resilient supply chain overall. BeCrop® Rate is Biome Makers’ metric for this, leveraging a global taxonomy database of microorganisms to interpret soil microbiome, determining key factors like soil health and sustainability. 

When it comes to sustainability, BeCrop® Rate helps to analyze the impact of ag input applications and regenerative agricultural practices on microbiome, but also water and carbon data. Shareable with CPGs and other customers, BeCrop® Rate acts as a sustainability rating that businesses can integrate into their own reporting efforts. The analysis also provides actionable data the CPGs and farmers can use to inform nutrient-dense and resilient crop production. The insights included biodiversity and impacts on the supply chain, potential scope 3 emissions reductions, crop and soil resilience as well as providing agronomic insights on yield improvements.

“Our technology really helps the ag business understand what the biology in the soil does and how we can use it, if we tend to it properly, to really elevate our operations,” says Mullins. 

Make BeCrop® Rate Your Supply Chain Metric

Supply chain resilience, emissions, and soil health validation are intrinsically linked, but the key is to understand how. This can be achieved through the use of data and a unified metric, like BeCrop® Rate, that is understood and monitored by all stakeholders.

Such a metric can also be used to determine soil performance in different geographies, which supports larger food organizations with various supply chain connections. In order to build resilience, businesses can leverage greater insight from upstream that will inform decision-making down the line—and form greater relationships between growers, manufacturers and retailers through a simplified sustainability calculation like BeCrop® Rate.

Coupling MRV with Biome Makers’ all-in-one portal, allows farmers to simplify data sharing with their customers, and allows full transparency of the risks and environmental impacts of their products.