Carbon is everywhere – no pun intended! On an increasingly regular basis, press releases from companies throughout the supply chain drop into my inbox announcing the next super-duper new scheme or system for assessing carbon balance on the farm.

Carbon footprinting isn’t new but the switch from direct subsidies to ‘public money for public goods’ and an ambitious target for the industry to reach Net Zero by 2040 has put a degree of urgency into getting to grips with natural capital – only by establishing where you are on the map, can you see how to get to the destination. From that point the opportunities begin.

In just the past five years, digital offerings have sprung into life from agchem manufacturers and distributors, with the latter being the first to bring carbon to the forefront of their systems. But they’re not alone – the supply chain is also initiating its own carbon initiatives, with ADM just announcing a new contract for growers with carbon footprinting attached using the Cool Farm Tool.

And then up pops Sandy, a digital assistant – think Alexa or Siri. Sandy not only promises to take care of your carbon footprinting needs, she (Sandy multitasks so must be female) also looks after biodiversity assessments, she’ll do the meal planning for your livestock and pinpoint where in the field you’re losing money. As well as helping monitor crop performance, she keeps tabs on growth, nutrient status and yield prediction and then is also a whizz with the numbers – analysing productivity and financial performance at farm, crop and field level. Just like Alexa – if something needs doing then it appears Sandy has all the answers.

There are two things that make Sandy particularly interesting to me. Firstly the people that have been brought together to breathe life into the project, which is the brain-child of Dr Hosein Khajeh-Hosseiny – better known in financial than agricultural circles. But what makes this man a little bit special is that he uses his considerable resources to help tackle social issues and inequity, and it is this that has led him to bat for farmers.

The intention behind Sandy was to come up with a way that farmers can fully demonstrate the provenance of the crops they produce and potentially be rewarded for the environmental standards they keep. He’s also made sure that farmers maintain ownership of their own data, which to many will be an undeniable advantage of a truly independent digital package.

To achieve this he brought together a veritable who’s who of the industry to form an advisory group consisting of more than 30 scientists and top industry professionals. Their combined experience has helped guide the design of the suite of software that Sandy will sit amongst, intriguingly named Candy for cooperatives, Mandy for banks (money), Stanley for retailers and Andy for assurance agencies – spot the neatly avoided faux pas.

Hosein has also attracted a formidable team to front up Trinity AgTech, the start-up company behind Sandy. And that brings me neatly onto the second reason Sandy is of interest – she’s batted her eyelashes and nicked our editor to use his considerable communication skills to support the project.

If I’ve learned anything about Tom over the past seven years we’ve worked together, it’s that he holds farmers’ interests at his core in whatever he does – whether that’s with his CPM hat on, where his ethos is you, the ‘reader’, always comes first or in anything else he puts his hand to – such as the British On-farm Innovation Network (BOFIN) he has founded and leads, or his passionate behind-the-scenes campaigning for new breeding technologies. So knowing Tom will only champion things that he feels really matter and will make a difference to farmers makes his defection to Sandy of huge significance. For that reason alone Sandy must be worth a look.

There’s absolutely no doubt that Charlie and I will miss Tom’s influence and mentorship dearly, his boundless energy and enthusiasm and amazing ability to stretch time and fill it to the brim. The good news is that he’s continuing to contribute to the pages in the coming months.

Each issue of the magazine is like a farming season – seeds are sown, nourished and grow on the pages until complete and then it’s time to start all over again. After more than ten years of mini-harvests, thousands of interviews (Tom has the precise number because he has a spreadsheet for everything), being under constant time pressure and burning the midnight oil; a change is sometimes a good thing. So the whole team here at CPM are excited about his new role at Trinity and even more pleased that his last issue as editor is more au revoir than good-bye.

Based in Ludlow, Shrops, CPM technical editor Lucy de la Pasture has worked as an agronomist. @Lucy_delaP