Agtech Program Will Scour Fields For New Insights

May 11, 2017 11:18 AM

Something about small-plot field trials doesn’t sit right with David Perry, CEO and director of an agtech company called Indigo. And the more he talked with farmers, the more strongly he felt about that.

“I’ve asked many farmers what they think of industry sponsored field trials, and most say that they don’t believe them,” he says. “When I ask them what they do believe, they invariably say, ‘I believe data that comes from my own farm, or maybe from my neighbor’s farm.’”

So, as Indigo works on its own set of microbial seed treatment products, the company decided to launch Indigo Partners, a collaboration among 25 leading farmers and agronomic experts that tests these seed treatments over 15,000 acres.

“The primary focus is to work on hundreds of acres on a farm instead of just a few feet,” according to commercial operations lead Barry Knight.

The trials are a pretty even mix of cotton, wheat, corn, soybean and rice acres, according to Knight. The trials will test various microbial combinations to see if and how well they can improve nutrient absorption, improve water efficiency, fight disease and any other number of potential benefits. But Knight expects much more from these collaborators.

“Our request was that they would share detailed information of what they’ve learned,” he says. “We’ll get everyone back a year from now and learn together collectively. We’ll look at all the variables – we’re hunting for any innovation in ag that could help profitability. We’re more interested in the truth than in marketing.”

The collaborators say they are up to the challenge.

“The Indigo Partners program is going to be transformative in agriculture,” says Kip Tom, chairman of the Indigo Partners program and chairman of Tom Farms in Indiana. “Indigo’s approach addresses the most critical pressure point for farmers, helping to understand the value new innovative technologies bring. I look forward to watching growers worldwide benefit from the program.”

Data collection will be critical to the program’s success and gathered multiple times throughout the season, Perry says.

“We can use today’s tools to sort through this data, separating out the relevant variables and determining the impact of the technologies we’re testing.”

Indigo issues equity grants to all program participants to align incentives – they come in the form of Indigo shares and will gain value if Indigo continues to succeed

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