AUS company that captures carbon in soil with microbes raises $40 million

Decarbonization startup Loam Bio, which uses microbes to sequester carbon in farm soils, has raised $40 million in a series A. The round is led by Marc Benioff’s TIME Ventures, and other investors include Main Sequence Ventures, Horizons Ventures, the Clean Energy Finance Corporation, Acre Venture Partners, Mike Cannon-Brookes’ Grok Ventures, Lowercarbon Capital, and Fiona McKean and Tobi Lütke’s Thistledown Capital. 

Loam Bio, which has rebranded from the Soil Carbon Co., was founded in 2019 by a group of scientists, farmers, and entrepreneurs in Australia and North America to both remove CO2 from the atmosphere and improve soil health. The company developed a microbial crop seed coating that stores carbon in the soil.

The technology supercharges a plant’s natural ability to store carbon in the soil after farmers coat their seeds with the inoculum, a common and simple agricultural practice. Once the crop is sown, the microbes and plants work together to securely store carbon in soil. The solution is designed to bind carbon within structures in the soil called micro-aggregates, increasing the amount of CO2 stored permanently.

Loam Bio investigated 1500 microbial strains to find the ones with the power to remove vast amounts of carbon and restore farmland, discovering organisms that are new to science along the way.

Loam CEO and co-founder Guy Hudson said the company’s microbial carbon removal solution tech has the potential to be a key climate change solution because it is cheap, long-term, and scalable. “Using our naturally-derived products on crops across the globe will give the world the time it needs to adjust to a low carbon economy,” he said.

“The entire annual US aviation emissions could be removed if our seed coating were to be applied to America’s soybean crop.”

Ben Gust, executive director of the CEFC’s Clean Energy Innovation Fund, said Loam has developed the potential to significantly decarbonize the atmosphere and improve water retention in soils. “This could revolutionize farming methods by improving soil health, building stronger resistance to drought in a changing climate, and playing an important part in accelerating the transition towards net zero emissions,” he said.

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