Project Management

A Trillion Ton Matchmaker

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Richard Maltzman
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Tinder. Uber.  Indeed.  These companies are really matchmakers.   Like Yente, from Fiddler on the Roof.

Another company you may not have heard of, Indigo has started an initiative – I’ll call it a project – which is also a sort of matchmaker.

Indigo caught my attention because it showed up as #22 in FastCompany’s Most Innovative Companies, 2020.  Here’s a link to their section on Indigo.

If you had heard of Indigo, it may have been because of their introduction of a biocoating for seeds which reduces the need for fertilizers which are harmful to the environment.  You can read about that in this article from Forbes, which states in part,

Indigo Agriculture, a tech startup in Boston, Massachusetts, makes seed treatments that help plants grow. The technology involves coating the seeds of corn, rice, soybeans and wheat with natural microbes. The result? Plants thrive like they're supposed to.

The private company also appears to be thriving, and recently announced $250 million in new venture capital investments along with a new digital marketplace for buying and selling grain.

Indigo Ag was founded in 2014 by Flagship Pioneering, a Cambridge biotech investment firm, and reportedly has crops growing on about 1 million acres across the United States.

You can learn about the process with this video.

That’s some background on indigo.  Now on to that matchmaking Terraton Inititative.  It’s about connecting farmers to regenerative farming techniques.

The plan aims to eventually pay farmers in this program $15 to $20 per ton of carbon that they sequester using tools like no-till and cover crops, aiming to sequester 1 trillion tons of carbon into the earth.   Payments could tally an estimated $30 to $60 per acre.

The techniques for such sequestration, according to David Perry, CEO of Indigo, are (from an excellent article in agriculture.com):

  • Cover crops. Besides protecting the soil from erosion, cover crops can enhance soil microbial populations and build soil carbon as they decay. 
  • Incorporation of livestock. Grazing and manure deposited by livestock can help build soil carbon. 
  • No-till farming. “When the soil is plowed, carbon is released into the atmosphere,” says Perry. “So, not tilling it keeps it in the soil.” 
  • Diverse crop rotation. “A variety of crops in the soil can help build soil carbon,” he says.
  • Commercial input reduction. Reducing commercial inputs like herbicides and fertilizers can help preserve beneficial soil life that helps build soil carbon

 

The initiative is also summarized in this video by Indigo

Is this catching on?  Well, Indigo had hoped to enroll about 1.5 acres of farmland in the first six months of the initiative.   Instead, farmers with more than 15 million acres have expressed interest.

Now that’s a great start to a great initiative. 

So we’re talking about a pretty good matchmaker!

Yente would be proud.

Posted by Richard Maltzman on: March 25, 2020 10:12 PM | Permalink

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