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CIBO Co-Founder Bruno Basso Wins Morgan Stanley Sustainability Award

The world’s most complex sustainability challenges, from climate change and waste reduction to equitable health care and food insecurity, require large-scale systemic solutions. That’s why the Morgan Stanley Institute for Sustainable Investing launched the Sustainable Solutions Collaborative (“the Collaborative”): to help scale breakthrough and innovative solutions to global sustainability issues for lasting and systemic impact.

CIBO is proud to announce that CIBO co-founder and Chief Scientist Bruno Basso’s project, My Soil Organic Carbon, or MySOC, won one of the five inaugural awards. The platform measures soil carbon through app-led field methods, sophisticated remote sensing technology and biophysical modeling. MySOC was awarded a $250,000 prize from the Morgan Stanley Institute for Sustainable Solutions Collaborative as part of this recognition. 

Meet the 2021 Sustainable Solutions Collaborative Winners 

In an exciting collaboration between Bruno Basso, Michigan State University Foundation Professor, and Kristofer Covey, assistant professor of Environmental Studies and Sciences at Skidmore College in New York, farmers in the United States will have an opportunity to cultivate a sustainable future for themselves and the planet by adopting regenerative farming practices that increase organic carbon in agricultural soils and reduce greenhouse gas emissions into the atmosphere through MySOC.

“The prize is an honor, but it’s also such a gratification because this science can help farmers make a more informed decision about how to use regenerative farming to reduce emissions and store new carbon in the soil they can then sell on the market as offsets,” said Basso, a professor in the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences in the MSU College of Natural Science and a member of the Long-term Ecological Research at W.K. Kellogg Biological Station. “It’s a new way of doing economics on the farm—money from the crop yield and money from protecting the environment.”

“Each one of these initiatives, which range from the fully commercial to the entirely nonprofit, has developed remarkable innovations. Through the help of the Collaborative, they have the potential to create the systemic changes needed to create a more sustainable future,” said Audrey Choi, Chief Sustainability Officer and CEO of the Morgan Stanley Institute for Sustainable Investing. “We admire their creative thinking and dedication, and look forward to working actively with them to help bring their solutions to scale.”

MySOC is one part of a larger suite of revolutionary technology under development in Basso’s lab to help reduce farmers’ financial risk when deciding how best to cultivate land. Through their unique algorithms from remote sensing imagery and crop modeling, they have already built subfield-level spatial analyses, meter by meter, of crop yield across the entire U.S. Midwest and can generate maps unique to each farm.

These “prescription” maps show farmers exactly what areas generate greater environmental impact through fertilizer loss and low productivity, areas that could instead sequester marketable carbon through native perennials, bioenergy crops, and cover crops while reducing greenhouse gasses associated with misapplied nitrogen fertilizers and other agrochemicals.

“I can never stop getting excited about how technology is bringing benefits to farmers who need guidance to reduce the risk they face when making decisions,” Basso added. “Soil sampling is not new, but now it can be inserted into a technology to quantify how much carbon they have and how to protect that carbon through farming practices that conserve it. Now they get paid by storing carbon as well as by selling grains.”

Learn more about the Morgan Stanley Institute for Sustainable Solutions Collaborative, here.

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