By David Perry
We have a trillion-ton problem, which cannot be addressed by the photosynthesis of a single plant. But when it comes to agriculture, we are not talking about one plant – we are talking about tens of thousands of plants per acre, and 3.6 billion acres of farmland worldwide.
By David Potere
Two weeks ago, at the inaugural Beneficial Ag event in Memphis, Indigo was proud to participate in a growing community of innovators from across the food system. One of the questions we asked ourselves was, “What are the technological capabilities needed to catalyze the beneficial agriculture movement?” We believe a new way for seeing the global food system is part of what’s needed next. That’s why we’re building Indigo Atlas – a geospatial platform for solving agricultural problems at a planetary scale. Here, I will explain why Atlas is important, give a glimpse of the technology under the hood, and share some recent examples of Atlas in action.
By David Perry
Today, CNBC ranked Indigo as the most innovative company in the world on its 2019 Disruptor 50 list.
This news is significant for our young organization but, more importantly, it is an achievement for the health and progress of our population and planet. In 2013, the list’s inaugural year, agriculture wasn’t even included as an industry to watch. Now, the industry is at the forefront of technological breakthroughs and innovation, while the collective recognition for its potential accelerates. The world has countless problems to solve and agriculture offers us uniquely hopeful solutions to address the most daunting global challenges.
By David Perry
The agriculture industry is currently one of the biggest contributors to human caused greenhouse gas emissions, but I believe that it is also one of the most hopeful solutions for slowing and reversing climate change.
From the Indigo GeoInnovation Team
Indigo announced yield forecasts in January for corn and soybeans across the Americas, democratizing data for the grower community to better navigate global markets during the U.S. government shutdown. With the shutdown, the doors of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) had closed. No work in that department meant that there was an indefinite hold on a key report, known as the World Agriculture Supply and Demand Estimates (WASDE), which documents directional changes for yield forecasts and other impactful metrics. The report is viewed as a foundational source for decision-making for growers and buyers across the world, deciding what to buy and sell, from and to whom, and when.
By David Perry
The automotive industry boomed in the United States during the mid-twentieth century. This paired with the development of an interstate highway system led to a new method for the transport of agricultural products: trucking. Hauling grain by truck became a potentially cheaper and more efficient alternative to trains and steamships, depending on the distances involved.
Today, we’re excited to announce Indigo’s acquisition of TellusLabs, a satellite imaging and artificial intelligence company based out of Somerville, Massachusetts. This joining of their mission with ours has been over a year-and-a-half in the making, and is a product of our Indigo Research Partners’ engagement with innovative startups around the world. Here’s the story of how this came about, what we’ve been working on together, and how our work will offer powerful tools to Indigo growers in the years to come.
By David Perry
The system by which we grow and distribute grain is well over a hundred years old. In the early 1900s, with significant urban migration, came the need for an efficient way to transport crops from rural areas to city centers. This led to the development of a commodity system, in which growers brought their harvested grain to silos where it was mixed with their neighbors’. Growers were paid a set price for each bushel, without regard to source, seed, or process by which it was grown. From there, grain was loaded onto railroad cars or steamships and eventually reached consumers, who increasingly purchased food grown hundreds or thousands of miles from where they lived. For a time, this worked well – it fed our nation, and the world.
When evaluating products, growers trust the results they see with their own eyes. The benefit of a different seed variety, irrigation system, fertilizing practice, new product, or method is suspect until the crop looks healthier and yields are higher. Growers remain skeptical until these technologies succeed in the climate and conditions of their region and in their own hands – because the needs of growers in Kansas differ from those in Texas, as the needs of those growers in the Corn Belt differ from those in Western Australia.
By Rachel Raymond, with growers of Indigo Wheat
U.S. winter wheat was hit hard with challenging growing conditions this past season. The USDA expects a nationwide harvest of 1.2 billion bushels, which would be the lowest since 2002. Dry months after planting paired with freezes in April and then extremely hot temperatures during grain fill were a perfect storm for wheat growers. In Texas and Oklahoma, many fields were abandoned for the year, which means it wasn’t worthwhile for the growers to even harvest — Texas saw a 66% abandonment rate and Oklahoma 54%, which are historic highs.
At Indigo, we believe the best lab for testing innovative agricultural techniques is the farm itself. Through collaborations with farmers around the US, we are building the world’s largest agricultural lab — Indigo Research Partners™ — with the goal of accelerating innovations that increase yields, improve environmental sustainability, and/or reduce risks for farmers.
Consumers are becoming increasingly interested in and aware of how their food and clothing is produced. We see this trend as organic products become more widely available in retail stores, and as large companies make commitments to producing food and fiber in a more sustainable manner. As Indigo’s Head of Crop Product Management, my work is driven by the company’s commitment to support farmers as they produce healthier and more environmentally sustainable food. Delivering products that meet consumer demands is the goal of any product manager — in fact, it’s the reason that the function exists.
By David Perry
The mid-nineteenth century saw a revolution in transportation — and advances in railways and steamships allowed for the movement of massive amounts of grain from rural farms to urban centers. In the 1850s alone, the amount of farmland in the United States grew by one hundred million acres, and over half of these acres were in just seven Midwestern states. Consumers increasingly purchased food grown hundreds or thousands of miles from where they lived. This trend continued into the twentieth century, with truck transport gaining in efficiency. This was hinged on the development of the Interstate Highway System, a public works project authorized by the Federal Aid Highway Act of 1956. Farmers were able to truck their harvests to elevators — storage facilities that would buy their grain.
Sledge Taylor farms cotton, corn, soybeans, wheat, peanuts, and cattle at Buckeye Farms in Como, MS. Recipient of the 2015 Cotton Grower Achievement Award, Sledge is an active member of the USDA's Agricultural Technical Advisory Committee for Trade and serves on many national farm boards and organizations. Sledge offers his perspective on the Indigo model and what it may mean in terms of sustainability.
By David Perry
In the first half of the twentieth century, we became increasingly concerned about how we could feed a growing population. In the decades after World War II, we answered this question, at least for a time, in a period that is now referred to as The Green Revolution. This period was defined by the adoption and sweeping use of four agricultural technologies — plant breeding, synthetic fertilizers, crop chemicals, and, beginning in the mid-90’s, genetic modification of plants. Alongside these technologies came changes in the supply chain: we began to treat most crops like commodities and, with the expanded use of elevators and railways, we were able to store and transport harvests in bulk.
This past season, we planted Indigo Corn™ in a region of central Kansas where fields only received 50% of their average rainfall. This severe water stress led to yields of only 80 bushels per acre on many farms. With Indigo Corn, yield increases of 32 to 40 bushels an acre were seen, despite the conditions. As our CEO, David Perry, pointed out, this meaningful boost could account for the profitability of a family farm.
Grower David Cleavinger discusses Indigo’s multi-faceted approach to improving the agricultural industry for the next generation
I first learned about Indigo in July 2017, when CEO, David Perry, and Head of Commercial Operations, Barry Knight, paid a visit to the Texas Wheat Office. As Vice President of the National Wheat Foundation, I sat in a meeting where they explained the new model that Indigo is bringing to the agriculture industry.
By Gerard Keating, Chief Technology Officer
I am very excited to be part of such a world-class team, focused on the company’s mission to help farmers sustainably feed the planet. One of the compelling reasons for me when I decided to join the company was Indigo’s unique position through the Indigo Partners™ program to create a digital and data-focused software platform and a set of agricultural solutions to help growers increase their profitability and harvest through data-driven decisions. And, through the Partners program and our other farming partners, Indigo has significant advantages in building a digitally focused agriculture company in what is traditionally an analog space.
By David Perry
Today, we announced the launch of Indigo Partners™, a program that enables Indigo and growers to test new technologies together. With Indigo Partners, we seek to discover and launch innovations that will improve farmer profitability, environmental sustainability, and consumer health worldwide.
By Barry Knight
Farmers face a profitability challenge.
Most people don’t think that farmers make much money. It’s true – farming’s margins are slim.
Yet revenues from crops and products derived from crops power multiple industries across the United States.
For farmers, unfortunately, the margins are so slim that they can go from profitable to unprofitable if the weather changes.
By Eric Jeck
The economics of farming are increasingly tilted against the grower.
Growers invest heavily upfront in land, equipment, labor and expensive inputs including seed, chemistry and fertilizer, typically borrowing to do so. They then do their best to manage through whatever weather (or other environmental conditions) impact how much of a crop their fields produce. Ultimately, the value of their crop fluctuates meaningfully with dynamic commodity prices. Growers assume most of the risk in what is typically a leveraged business model with highly variable outcomes.
By David Perry
Today, we are sharing the data from the commercial launch of our first product, Indigo™ Cotton.
I’m pleased to report that the commercial data indicate that Indigo Cotton led to an 11% yield increase in the target geography of West Texas, a region that produces nearly half of all US cotton. Based on our research, we had previously set the expectation of a 10% yield increase. It is inspiring to meet and exceed that expectation at large-scale, across more than 40,000 acres.
Introducing Indigo’s First Commercial Product: Improving Cotton’s Water Use Efficiency for a Water Constrained World
By David Perry
Growing up in Arkansas, we knew where our water came from. A plastic pipe allowed water to gravity flow from a nearby spring to a concrete water tank next to our house. Overflow from the spring formed a creek which we dammed to form a seven acre pond that we used to supply water for irrigation, livestock, fishing, and swimming.
Our system was simple. When rainfall was low, the flow from the spring was less and the pond levels dropped, and we knew that we had to conserve.
The business of farming has always been synonymous with significant risk. Farmers’ basic business model involves a significant upfront investment in land and machinery. On top of that, on an annual basis, farmers purchase many of their inputs at the beginning of the season, and then must make management decisions throughout the growing cycle to try to minimize the downside created by unpredictable weather patterns. The demand that farmers meet with their production is a function of the ever increasing world population - we all depend on them to produce our food. We at Indigo are passionate about our mission to support farmers in this important undertaking.
Hopefully by now you know that we here at Indigo are trying to do something extraordinary, and to accomplish extraordinary goals, you need extraordinary people. This post should tell you a little bit about our team and the culture we are building.
At Indigo, everything starts with our purpose and our values. Every day we are driven by our purpose: to harness nature to help farmers sustainably feed the planet. Our values, which you can read in detail HERE, were developed by the whole company and go beyond just a list of ideals; they define and guide us.
We here at Indigo have been getting this question a lot over the past few weeks. As a company dedicated to harnessing nature to help feed the planet, some are curious about how “Indigo” aligns with our mission.
In fact, Indigofera, the crop genus from which indigo is derived, has a rich agricultural history - one that embodies our ambitious goals and values as we strive to help improve farming and our foods. This history resonated with us, and elements of our own research also pointed us to the name. We’ll get to that, but first, what exactly is indigo?
By David Perry
We are at a critical moment in time. By 2050, the planet will have 9.7 billion people to feed. That’s over two billion more than today. It’s six USAs, or just under two Chinas worth of additional humans. At the same time, the yield gains resulting from modern agricultural technologies have plateaued, generating annual yield increases of just over one percent per year. Climate change, meanwhile, has caused weather volatility and created record dry spells impacting farmers around the globe. If current trends continue, by 2050 we will no longer be producing enough food to sustain our population.