Aadith Moorthy

Founder & CEO, Boomitra

“I founded Boomitra to empower farmers with AI and satellite-based insights to help them adapt and fight back against the changing climate,” says Aadith Moorthy. Years ago, when he was studying at the California Institute of Technology, he’d traveled through a remote village in South India where he witnessed a funeral procession for a local farmer. The farmer had taken his own life after the devastating effects of failed monsoon rains and a lack of crop yields. This is not an uncommon story, and it’s what initially sparked the vision for Boomitra (“Friend of the Earth” in Sanskrit). Boomitra’s technology has the ability to measure, report and verify soil carbon credits, and helps farmers optimize soil management; minimize their use of resources like water and fertilizers; and receive additional income through the soil carbon credits. Boomitra, which was a 2023 Earthshot Prize award winner, is currently working with more than 150,000 farmers and ranchers in thirteen countries across four continents. “Our goal?,” Moorthy proclaimed. “A gigaton of CO2 sequestered in the soil by 2030.”

carbon farming project in East Africa

What inspired you to start Boomitra?
The inspiration for Boomitra emerged seven years ago during a visit to a South Indian village, where I witnessed the funeral of a farmer who had taken his life following crop failure due to failed monsoons. This poignant moment, juxtaposed with my studies in materials science, computer science, and AI at Caltech, led me to explore the potential of technology in agriculture. Driven by a desire to prevent such tragedies and address the challenges posed by climate change, I founded Boomitra to empower farmers with AI and satellite-based insights to help them adapt and fight back against the changing climate.

How does your technology work?
Our technology leverages a combination of remote sensing and machine learning to measure soil carbon sequestration globally. Utilizing over a million soil samples and satellite data, Boomitra creates detailed regional soil models. Our proprietary machine learning techniques, fine-tuned to work across various soil and climate conditions, enable the measurement of soil properties like carbon, nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium levels, and moisture. This method allows for efficient and large-scale monitoring of soil health, unlocking the management and verification of soil carbon sequestration.

Where are the farmers and ranchers you work with located?
Boomitra’s impact is growing globally, with our projects currently spread across four continents. We are actively working with over 150,000 farmers and ranchers in 13 countries including Mexico, India, Kenya, and parts of East Africa and South America. Our projects currently span over 5 million acres, and we are continuing to expand our current projects and initiate new ones in several countries throughout the Global South, reinforcing our commitment to a regenerative future.

So far, what have you found to be most interesting about the data collected?
The data that excites us most is the tangible impact we see within communities and among farmers and ranchers participating in our projects. Take, for instance, our Northern Mexico Grassland Project, where we’ve managed to conserve approximately 14.65 billion liters of water annually; and directly supported 672 jobs, with the potential to remove an estimated 27 million tons of CO2 from the atmosphere over 20 years.

Firsthand accounts from our farmers and ranchers are also incredibly rewarding. One rancher in Northern Mexico initially had only one species of grass on his land. After embracing regenerative practices, he now boasts 17 species, along with a noticeable increase in various bird and small animal species for coyotes and pumas to prey on which has reduced the predation of his livestock. Similarly, a farmer in Africa witnessed a surge in harvest yield, jumping from 8.9 kg bags per acre to 18 bags per acre in just two harvest seasons. These anecdotal stories illustrate the profound impact of our work within communities and on an individual level.

grassland restoration project in Northern Mexico

How does this technology help farmers and ranchers cut costs?
Boomitra’s technology enables precision farming that minimizes excess use of resources such as water and fertilizers. This targeted approach reduces unnecessary costs. Farmers and ranchers who participate in our projects have access to the Boomitra app, which is free to them, and offers data-driven insights on soil health so farmers can optimize their soil management, leading to healthier crops and greater yields. In addition to the direct financial benefits from increased productivity, farmers and ranchers can generate additional income through soil carbon credits for adopting practices that enhance carbon sequestration in their soils.

What does it mean to purchase carbon removal credits?
Purchasing carbon removal credits means financially supporting initiatives that remove CO2 from the atmosphere, contributing to climate change mitigation. When you buy these credits through Boomitra, you’re essentially funding the work of farmers and ranchers who implement regenerative practices that capture carbon in their soils. This process is meticulously verified using our AI and remote sensing technology, ensuring that each credit represents a real, quantifiable removal of one metric ton of carbon. It’s an investment not just in carbon reduction, but in the sustainability of global agriculture.

grassland restoration project in East Africa

What are the requirements for farmers/ranchers wanting to participate in Boomitra?
What makes Boomitra different is that we unlock carbon finance for smallholder farmers. Our technology enables even those with as little as half an acre to engage in regenerative agriculture and enter the carbon market.

To participate in Boomitra’s carbon projects, farmers and ranchers must commit to adopting enhanced agricultural practices that go beyond their current methods, ensuring additional carbon sequestration. In exchange, they gain free access to Boomitra’s advanced technology and receive capacity-building support from local agricultural experts at no cost. Participants are required to enter into a contract with Boomitra, committing to a set duration of involvement in the program.

Boomitra is free to use and offers rewards to farmers and ranchers. Do you receive any pushback from them about participating? What are their main concerns?
Boomitra prioritizes the needs of farmers and ranchers in our business model, focusing on eliminating the obstacles they face in adopting regenerative practices. While participation is free and participants receive the majority of proceeds from carbon credits sold, concerns do arise.

We recognize the challenges of farming, especially for marginalized communities where altering agricultural practices can entail significant risk. To mitigate this, Boomitra partners with NGOs, Farmer Producer Organizations, Farmer Cooperatives, women entrepreneur groups, and local governments. Our collaborative approach ensures that our projects yield substantial economic and environmental benefits for farmers and their communities. 

Some additional issues we proactively address include data privacy and misconceptions about land ownership. We assure farmers and ranchers that participating in our projects does not involve selling their land, and we uphold strict confidentiality standards to protect their data privacy.

Has anything changed for Boomitra since becoming an Earthshot Prize winner?
Winning the Earthshot Prize award for ‘Fixing Our Climate’ stands as a testament to the passion the Boomitra team has poured into every aspect of our work and validates the strength of our technology, solution, and the partners and growers we work with, who work every single day towards moving the needle on climate change. This award propels us towards a regenerative future. Our goal? A gigaton of CO2 sequestered in the soil by 2030.