The Boston-headquartered ag-tech company focused on ways to improve producer environmental sustainability, profitability and address consumer health using digital technology and natural microbiology. The company's Indigo Acres program provides varying levels of support and access to different tools for US feed and row crop growers interested in changing to regenerative farming practices.
Regenerative agriculture is a style of feed or crop production that improves agricultural soils, reduces emissions and “draws down atmospheric carbon dioxide,” said Rachel Raymond, Indigo COO.
“Examples of these practices include cover crops, diverse crop rotations, input reductions, reduced or no-tillage, and livestock integration,” she told FeedNavigator. “The outcomes of regenerative ag practices align with our mission to improve grower profitability, support environmental sustainability and improve consumer health.”
Work on the products and services included in Indigo Acres started in 2014, she said. But the program was developed to provide a “systems approach” to support producers interested in starting to implement regenerative practices.
The program provides three levels of agronomic support including the no-cost standard program, which provides access to an e-commerce platform and a carbon credit program. Indigo Carbon, the carbon program, provides producers a way to earn money generating carbon credits by sequestering carbon in fields using regenerative production techniques.
“We see the adoption of regenerative farming practices as a growing trend in the industry, with growers implementing an increasing number of practices that enrich their soil health and increase the profitability of their operation,” said Raymond.
Focus on regenerative production, carbon sequestration
The three levels of support start with access to the carbon program and the e-commerce platform Indigo Marketplace, the company reported. Indigo Acres Plus and Complete, which are not no-cost, also provide services including site visits from agronomists, grain quality testing, microbial seed applications, access to crop pricing tools and other elements.
The first-tier program can be applied to any feed crop, crop or pastureland operation in the US, said Raymond. The second and third-tier programs, however, are open to feed or row crop producers in select growing regions of the US including the Midwest, mid-South, South and High Plains regions, she added.
“While growers can implement a practice in one growing season and immediately experience positive benefits such as reduced input costs, we see increased benefits to growers as they implement a range of practices that support the health of their operation over time,” she said. “The addition of a new regenerative practice qualifies a grower to receive payments for sequestering carbon.”
The Indigo Carbon program connected to all three tiers pays growers for each ton of carbon “either sequestered in their soil or abated through the adoption of regenerative farming practices,” she said.
“We use soil testing and data science to quantify the amount of carbon sequestered or abated, verify the total with an independent third party, and issue carbon credits to the grower based on the amount,” Raymond said. “Growers who sign up for Indigo Carbon in 2019 will earn $15 per ton of carbon sequestered during the 2020 crop year.”
Companies or individuals interested in offsetting their carbon footprints can work with Indigo to buy the established carbon credits, she added.
Implications for feed crop production
The support system provides a way for feed crop producers to improve their profitability and resilience to climate conditions, said Raymond. The system also can establish a new revenue stream.
“We see bids for sustainably grown crops bringing premiums for growers who differentiate their crop by utilizing regenerative practices,” she said.
“Growers can get paid for the carbon they sequester,” she said. Depending on the level of engagement with the services, producers have the ability to access a grain testing service and make use of “quality-specific bids” through the company’s marketplace.
“The top two tiers of Indigo Acres include grain quality testing, which evaluates the quality and provides growers with the information to determine where they can deliver for a premium, mitigate dockage rates and rejections, and optimize their time and profit by delivering to the best buyer for their grain,” she added.