Increasing the speed at which carbon dioxide is sequestered in cropland soils

Since the dawn of agriculture, significant amounts of soil carbon have been released as carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. Preserving our climate means finding solutions that accelerate the rate at which we draw carbon dioxide from the air, and increase carbon levels in our farmlands.

The opportunity

The benefits of accelerating soil carbon sequestration in farm soils are numerous. Carbon-rich soils hold more water, are less prone to runoff, and offer more minerals and nutrients to plants. These physical properties make them more resilient to drought, flood, or heavy rain, ultimately reducing climate-based risks to grower productivity and profitability. Carbon-rich soil is more likely to produce healthy food – creating downstream benefits for consumer health and well-being.  Additionally, sequestering carbon in soils can lead to higher profitability for growers through participating in carbon credit markets like Indigo Carbon.

Unfortunately, until now, there has been no clear motivation for growers to view carbon as a critical output of their farming efforts. As such, there’s been limited focus and little effort within the agricultural industry to optimize the performance of cover crop seeds, amendments, and other technologies and practices that maximize carbon production.

The Challenge

The Accelerate track seeks novel products, processes, or services that accelerate the rate at which carbon dioxide is sequestered and maintained in cropland soils, and complement existing practices a grower uses in their operation. 

Potential solutions

Soil amendments
Novel crops or crop varieties (including perennial crops)
Optimized cover crop seeds
Microbial technologies
Technologies that reduce the use of chemicals and fertilizers
Farm management practices 
On-farm or in-field biochar solutions
What’s your idea?


Accelerate solutions will be evaluated on the following criteria:

  • Rate at which carbon is sequestered in soils by integrating technology or practice
  • Cost and complexity of solution
  • Applicability in a wide range of cropland soils types and geographies
  • Clear path to a positive return on investment for growers

How The Terraton Challenge works


During this 10-week application period, you may submit your application using the specific website form for your category of interest.


Over the course of three weeks, Indigo’s panel of judges including thought leaders, academics & entrepreneurs will review applications. A select number of round 1 applicants will be invited to the next round as semi-finalists. Semi-finalists will be announced on Oct. 22.


Semi-finalists moving forward will be eligible for up to $60k in grants and $3M in contracts. They will join a virtual incubation cohort with access to mentors, review panels, expert speakers & real-world experimentation.


During this time all semi-finalists will work with Indigo staff and mentors to pilot their solutions on research acres and prepare for live demos at the BeneficialAg 2020 Conference. Post-BeneficialAg 2020, all semi-finalists will continue to refine their solutions and prep for the final contract stage.


All semi-finalists will demo at BeneficialAg 2020, an important multi-thousand attendee event that convenes stakeholders from across the supply chain to reimagine ag for people & planet. The winner in each category will receive a $20k grant to accelerate their work.


Select finalists with scalable solutions will be eligible for up to $3M contracts by Indigo, all while maintaining business independence and IP rights to their solution.

Why participate in The Terraton Challenge?

Accelerate FAQs

How do you validate carbon sequestration in short periods of time given that it can take years to make noticeable progress?​

Semi-finalists will have access to cropland with known carbon stocks to “plant” their solutions. Changes in carbon stock will be measured over time (approximately every 3 months during the program) using gold standard methods such as dry combustion. Any observed changes in soil carbon will be considered in terms of expected long-term viability as evaluated by a panel of expert judges.

Where will my technology be evaluated?

Accelerate technologies will be tested through field trials with Indigo in geographies selected to demonstrate the efficacy of the offering.

Does the product need to be registered with any regulatory organizations?​

Some product classes – such as microbial technologies, micronutrients, and soil amendments – require state or federal registration for use on commercial acres. Challenge technologies in these classes without appropriate registration may be limited to small plot trials or disallowed.

Ready to apply for the Accelerate track?

Fill out the application below. Applications are due by October 1!

By registering, you acknowledge that you have read and agreed to our Terms of Use and Privacy Policy.

Explore the other tracks




The Terraton Challenge is subject to contest rules, terms and conditions located here. The Terraton Challenge is made up of two separate contests: an initial screening contest (“Round One”) and a semi-finalist contest (“Final Round”). By submitting an application, applicants are enrolling in Round One only. The only potential prize for Round One is an invitation to participate in the Final Round, subject to additional terms and conditions, acceptance of which are required to participate in such Final Round. Submission of an application to Round One does not guarantee participation in the Final Round.  Only Round One winners are eligible to participate in the Final Round. Subject to additional terms, Final Round participants may be eligible for a chance to win a grant of up to $20,000.00 and one or more contracts with Indigo that may be worth up to $3 million in total. No purchase necessary to enter. Contests are void where prohibited.

Not ready to apply but interested in learning more?