Published 4 years ago.
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Image: Indigo Agriculture
“The potential for agricultural soils to capture and store atmospheric carbon dioxide is the most hopeful potential solution that I know of to address climate change.” — Indigo CEO David Perry
Indigo Agriculture, a company dedicated to
harnessing nature to help farmers sustainably feed the planet, has launched The
Terraton Initiative™ to
accelerate carbon sequestration at an unprecedented scale.
For the first time in human history, atmospheric carbon dioxide has exceeded
415ppm, representing an increase of one trillion tons — or, a teraton — of
atmospheric CO2 since pre-industrial levels of 280ppm. Utilizing the potential
of agricultural soils, The Terraton Initiative seeks to remove one trillion tons
of CO2 from the atmosphere. With Indigo’s integrated approach to agriculture, and
partnerships with representatives from across the value chain, The Terraton
Initiative will unlock the most scalable, immediate and affordable opportunity
to address climate change that exists today.
currently implemented by a small percentage of growers, are management
techniques that sequester carbon, while restoring soil health and resiliency.
Practices including minimal tillage, cover cropping, crop rotations and
perennial cropping increase soil’s carbon content, water permeability and water
retention, which also increase a crop’s ability to withstand drought and
flooding. If implemented on the 3.6 billion acres of farmland across the globe,
regenerative farming practices — combined with increased scientific
understanding and new technologies — have the potential to return the carbon
levels in agricultural soils from an average of ~1 percent back to ~3 percent.
This shift is enough to account for the sequestration of one trillion tons of
“The potential for agricultural soils to capture and store atmospheric carbon
dioxide is the most hopeful potential solution that I know of to address climate
change,” said Indigo CEO David Perry. “It is the only action we can take
today that has an impact, potentially one trillion tons, that matches the scale
of the problem. Instead of just reducing the speed at which we approach the
climate cliff, leveraging agricultural soils — combined with emissions
reductions — enables us to start backing away from the cliff entirely.”
To catalyze The Terraton Initiative, Indigo is creating Indigo
— a market providing growers with the financial incentive to implement
regenerative farming practices. In partnership with the Ecosystem Services
Market Consortium (ESMC) and other organizations, Indigo will use its
digital agronomy capabilities and satellite imagery analysis to measure and
verify soil carbon sequestration and on-farm emission levels.
The other side of the market will be made up of food
looking to offer products that are climate positive, businesses seeking to be
carbon neutral, not-for-profit organizations seeking to maximize the impact of
their sustainability investments, investors and insurance companies seeking to
hedge climate risks, and individuals that want to contribute to climate change
solutions. Growers who join Indigo Carbon within the first 12 months are
eligible to receive a minimum of $15 per metric ton of CO2 sequestered. The
market price will ultimately be set by supply and demand, but at $15-20 per
metric ton, Indigo Carbon offers the most economical price to remove carbon
dioxide from the atmosphere, while providing substantial incentives to farmers.
“Transformational change requires more than just commitment — we have to align
incentives across the entire system,” Ed Smith, Head of Indigo Carbon, said
in a statement. “Doing that will require engagement from within and outside of
agriculture. This includes agtech companies, input providers, nonprofits,
government agencies, consumer packaged goods companies, retailers, and each of
us as consumers.”
Partnering initially with the Soil Health Institute, The Rodale
Institute and a network of grower partners, Indigo is launching The Terraton
Experiment — the world’s largest atmospheric carbon-sequestration experiment.
The goal of the experiment, which will include tens of thousands of farms
followed for a decade or more, is to quantify farming practices that maximize
soil carbon sequestration and understand the impact of these practices on farm
profitability and crop nutrition. The results of this experiment will form the
blueprint for maximizing soil carbon sequestration. Indigo will make the data
from this study available to other research institutions.
“Through the process of photosynthesis, agricultural plants have the ability to
economically pull more carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere than any other
technology,” said Geoffrey von Maltzahn, PhD, Indigo’s Chief Innovation
Officer and co-founder. “The Terraton Experiment will represent the world’s
largest atmospheric carbon-sequestration experiment, bringing together growers
and partners from across the scientific community in an open-source platform.
Through our combined efforts, we expect to unlock ways to accelerate the
drawdown of a teraton of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, while enriching our
soils and improving the health of our food system.”
Sequestering one trillion tons of atmospheric CO2 into the world’s agricultural
soils will require effort from stakeholders around the world and across
industries, from technologists and investors to consumers and growers. To
encourage innovation and participation in the effort, Indigo is launching
several open calls to action. This includes The Carbon
Cup, a nation-wide
sequestration competition to spark on-farm innovation. Broken down on a
region-by-region basis, first place growers competing in The Carbon Cup will
receive recognition and a monetary prize for their efforts.
Additionally, Indigo is launching The Terraton
Challenge, calling on
innovators and entrepreneurs to develop technologies for maximizing soil
carbon-sequestration rates, improving soil carbon measurements, and reducing the
need for chemical and fertilizer inputs.
“Working with Indigo, I hope to get more farmers to grow with a regenerative
approach and improve the health of our global agricultural soils,” said Rick
Clark, a grower based out of Indiana. “If you are a conservationist and a good
steward of the land, then you are building soil health and will be better off
to me, is the main driver for our farm and its success.”
For more information regarding The Terraton Initiative, or if you wish to join
the effort, you can visit Indigo’s
Published Jun 13, 2019 8am EDT / 5am PDT / 1pm BST / 2pm CEST