Indigo Ag is working on many solutions in the agricultural space regarding climate change and streamlining farming practices to benefit both farmers and the long-term health of the Earth. Olin alum, Tiana Veldwisch told us a little bit about the work her team is doing in carbon product management.
The software they are working on helps farmers generate carbon credits based on what they’re doing on their land. Farmers can’t directly work with the third-party organizations that certify these things so Indigo Ag acts as a mediator and advocate for farmers. They’ve worked with these external organizations to determine a suitable scientific methodology to calculate these carbon credits which will also allow and incentivize farmers to adopt practices that reduce greenhouse gas emissions and are good for their crops.
Usually, software development is entirely focused on the user, however in this case, Indigo Ag needs to strike a balance between the rigorous calculation methodology mandated by the organizations which control carbon credits and the farmers’ user accessibility. A key thing Tiana’s team works on is simplifying the process for farmers as much as possible so that their next steps are always clear. Sometimes there are things that the farmers don’t need to understand about the methodology but sometimes they do need to have a certain level of understanding to collect the proof.
Part of the challenge here is ensuring that the information is presented to them in a clear and easily consumable way. Indigo Ag is constantly working on improving the process of collecting evidence including simple improvements such as being able to have farmers simply take pictures of receipts for proof which wasn’t previously possible. Another challenge of this project is matching frames of reference with the farmers on things like time. For a farmer, harvest time is measured in seasons however this software thinks about harvest time in calendar years. Discrepancies like this are found and addressed not only through direct user research with farmers but also by the agronomists on Indigo Ag’s team.
The job Indigo is doing by collecting inputs from different people and synthesizing what the requirements are so that farmers are able to translate that into their growing is important for many reasons. Not only does it help farmers increase their own profits and productivity, but it also helps sequester carbon in a natural way which plays an important role in curbing and reversing climate change.