Green Innovations: EIC company VanderSat is making agriculture worldwide more sustainable
From longer droughts to increased flooding and more robust crop diseases, climate change is creating new challenges for the European agriculture sector. With more accurate and reliable water data, crop yields on agricultural land can be improved and this information can help to fight the global food and water crisis. Through the support of the EIC-funded WATER4AGRI project, the Dutch company VanderSat developed a technology that can accurately measure the location and amount of water in the soil, anywhere in the world.
Whilst many companies focus on soil moisture sensors and weather stations, VanderSat uses satellites to analyse the earth’s microwave data and thereby determining soil temperature and moisture, mapping any section of the earth with a resolution of up to 100 by 100 meters. The innovation, created in 2015 by former NASA employees, is currently used to measure more than 100 million hectares of agricultural land worldwide and, in addition to the agricultural and insurance sectors, VanderSat also works closely with organizations in the fields of water and science.
“The WATER4AGRI project was a kick-starter for our company, allowing us to quickly build a market-ready service,” said Richard de Jeu, founder and Chief Technology Officer at VanderSat. “As a result, today we are one of the world’s leading players in Earth Observation for our field, delivering data and intelligence to farmers in Europe, the US, Brazil and beyond”.
From innovation to social impact
The data collected by VanderSat is used by large agricultural companies and insurers for risk-assesment and possible damages to crops. The technology also gives uninsured farmers, for example, those in remote areas, access to crop data and greater financial security. World players such as BASF, Climate Corp, AXA, and Swiss Re can make crucial business decisions on the basis of VanderSat’s data.
“Knowing soil moisture levels is key to predicting yield risks and crop development more accurately,” said Mr. Ole Peters, Head of Technology Digital Farming at BASF’s Agricultural Solutions division. “By integrating VanderSat’s data into our digital farming technology, farmers benefit from even more precise, field-zone-specific information and forecasts, which in turn ensures more efficient and sustainable use of water and crop inputs,” Peters added.
VanderSat received a Phase 2 Grant of €1.3M from the European Innovation Council in 2017. In April 2020, the company announced to have raised an investment of several million euros from Social Impact Ventures to develop its patented satellite technology further. VanderSat’s ambition, which is shared by Social Impact Ventures, is to make an impact on 1 billion of the 7 billion hectares to make on impact of 15% of agricultural land worldwide.