A Scottish firm that measures soil carbon has achieved £9m of funding from global industry giants Shell and Barclays.

Agricarbon based near Dundee was founded by entrepreneurs Annie Leeson, climate strategy and decarbonisation expert, and Stewart Arbuckle who hails from a well-known farming family to address the accelerating demand for nature-based climate solutions from farming and nature restoration.

The firm has grown rapidly since its commercial launch in 2021, with revenues tripling this financial year. It already serves an international client base which includes some of the world’s largest food and beverage companies, carbon project developers, and natural capital asset managers.

Having launched operations in Europe in 2022 and in North America earlier this year, international projects already contribute more than 50% of turnover for the business. Later this year, Agricarbon will establish a dedicated US entity to service large projects in the Americas, measuring soil carbon removals across hundreds of thousands of hectares of grass and arable farmland.

The company is also planning to expand to other regions, prioritising zones of major commodity crop production and areas with significant potential for nature restoration. Co-founder and chief executive Annie Leeson said: “To increase the funding for large-scale soil carbon restoration, benefit claims and credits must be founded on high integrity, highly consistent, and independent primary data.

Securing investment from two major stakeholders, Shell and Barclays, affirms the need for our data to increase confidence in soil carbon removals for carbon buyers, food companies, and financial markets.

“Expanding Agricarbon’s service is catalytic for the growth of sustainable market incentives: unlocking more value for farmers and landowners that deliver real carbon removals on the ground, and ensuring natural capital investment can target areas of genuine and meaningful climate benefit.”

The firm says interest in soil carbon removal is at an all-8me high due to the overlap between climate solutions and future food security, adding that agricultural soil carbon removals are vital to meet food industry net zero commitments and represent the fastest growing sector in the voluntary carbon market.

Agricarbon argues that restoration of carbon into soil is linked directly to increased biodiversity, improved water retention, and more resilient crop yields and the benefits go beyond the carbon removal value, particularly in farming regions hardest hit by climate extremes.

Addie Pinkster, chief executive of Adelpha who led the deal said: “Carbon removal is a large and growing climate industry, with an increasing focus on agricultural soils as a large and untapped carbon sink. “As agricultural land transitions to regenerative farming practices, it is estimated that soils could technically sequester one to five gigatonnes (billion tonnes) of carbon dioxide per year.

“This is a significant opportunity for major food and beverage companies, who are incentivised by the benefits of decarbonising their supply chain, increasing biodiversity, improving resistance to flood and drought, and restoring soil health for a sustainable future food system. Other industries are also keen to support this transition, either to reduce climate risk for food and farming customers to reduce net emissions in their supply chain or as buyers of agricultural carbon offsets.

“As a result, corporates and natural capital investors are pouring funding into soil carbon removal projects. However, until recently, the roadblock has been the problem of how to measure carbon in the soil accurately and at scale.

“This is compounded for international corporates and carbon markets, where standardised and consistent data across farming systems and geographies is vital. “Agricarbon has changed that, which is why they are working with global food and beverage companies to support some of the most-advanced agricultural carbon removal programmes in the world.

“Companies that are focused on agricultural soil carbon removal and regenerative farming recognise that Agricarbon is a key part of the solution. This funding round shows that leading investors understand that too.”