Performance Economy #5. Rethinking the farming business model from seed to sale

Eren Koont
by Eren Koont LinkedIn
Jul 17, 2020 10:27:00 AM

We love it when we get to witness the performance economy in action. Why? We believe that, now and in the future, sustainable business success is dependent on delivering greater value with every transaction. But, not just any value... it must be demonstrable to the customer. 

This demonstrability—or “transparency,” as the model calls it—is woven through every fiber of the modern-day performance economy, especially in the way that businesses measure and optimize success for their customers. And digital technology is a key tool in making that transparency possible.

This next performance economy spotlight features a company—Indigo Agriculture—that’s using technology to embed value in every level of their business. What’s more, they’re working to support the environment while doing so.

For more interesting profiles of the Performance Economy, check out these spotlights:

  • [24] – Combines artificial and human Intelligence to deliver customer acquisition and engagement products across nine industries
  • Develops tools that automate time-consuming online retail processes while delivering a personalized shopping experience for consumers and a 20x ROI guarantee for retailers
  • LevaData Offers a SaaS platform that leverages AI and data-driven tools to optimize the procurement process, guaranteeing 10–30% incremental cost savings
  • M32 Connect – Uses a proprietary, machine learning–driven SaaS “platform of platforms” to help digital publishers maximize the revenue they earn from their advertising assets

Indigo Agriculture’s tech-based approach to delivering higher-quality, sustainable and profitable crops with less environmental impact

Named as the third most innovative company in CNBC’s annual ranking of emerging industry leaders, Indigo Agriculture uses pioneering agronomic tools and services—including natural microbiology, in tandem with digital technology—to improve grower profitability, environmental sustainability and consumer health. 

True to the performance economy model, Indigo Agriculture is a vested partner in the success of their ventures—placing their seeds, sensors and scientists in farmers’ fields to capture “near infinite bits of data from the field” in order to increase the planet’s capacity to produce food, but in a sustainable, responsible and safe manner.

While this mission is simple in concept, it’s taken plenty of time and money to identify and recreate the missing beneficial microbes that help plants to deal with stress, disease and other elements that currently plague many of today’s agricultural crops. To do so, they’ve collected over 36,000 samples from more than 700 plant species around the world and endeavored to identify and sequence 40,000 endosymbionts (microbes that live inside the plant itself). 

Based on this ground-breaking work, the company has created the largest body of data on earth for these microbes. They channel insights from this dynamic data bank into an array of resources built to help growers and buyers to get the most out of their yields, including:

  • Indigo Marketplace™ – a bidding platform for buying and selling grain, with tools designed to overhaul, adjust and fine-tune the end-to-end grain marketing, sales and distribution process;
  • Indigo Carbon – a carbon credit program that prioritizes regenerative farming practices (e.g.,  adding crop cover, reducing tillage and soil inputs, and integrating livestock on farmland) to improve soil resilience and profitability;
  • a professional testing program, equipped with advanced weather data, satellite imagery and aggregated research across millions of acres to provide year-round support and recommendations to increase yield potential and minimize inputs; and,
  • a system of seed products that improves crop health and productivity in the face of environmental stress.

These and other resources are offered in a two-tiered service model (under the Indigo Acres banner) that gives growers increasing levels of ongoing agronomic support throughout the year:

  • Plus – agronomic services and products to help growers more sustainably and profitably manage their farms. Includes all of the Standard deliverables, plus single-season microbiome treatment, four visits from an agronomist each year, and post-harvest grain quality testing.
  • Complete – an innovative partnership that’s designed to unlock a farm’s full potential through a customized program of beneficial agronomic products and services. It adds year-round agronomic advice, in-bin and in-field grain quality testing and an introductory trial to Indigo Futures Lock.


How the Ordway billing and revenue automation platform can help a company like IndigoAg

  • Ordway's RESTful API can integrate with IndigoAg's data collection systems to drive invoice calculations based on farm performance
  • Subscription and contract management features in Ordway can manage all of the order and renewal processes allowing IndigoAg employees the time to focus on core business activities


Bringing agriculture and digital technology together to drive the common good

After testing their beneficial microbes on nine different crops on three different continents in four separate growing seasons, Indigo Agriculture is now seeing 10+% yield benefits on crops grow in targeted stress conditions. 

Plus, a high-profile partnership with Anheuser-Busch and farmers in Arkansas and Missouri that began in 2019 and continues today has led to some incredible outcomes: 

  • 23.7% average decrease in water usage (target = 10% decrease)
  • 13.3% average reduction in nitrogen application (target = 10% reduction)
  • 26.6% average abatement of methane emissions (target = 10% decrease) 

Beyond the value demonstrated in better crop yields with less chemical inputs, which leads to greater profitability, Indigo Agriculture upholds another key value of performance economy–driven businesses: the health and wellbeing of our planet and its inhabitants. 

On May 14, 2020, the company announced its involvement in the Development Data Partnership, a public-private initiative led by the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, and the Inter-American Development Bank (with partner organizations Google, Facebook and LinkedIn). Indigo’s involvement relies heavily on their data capture technology, including Indigo Atlas, which combines remote sensing, ground equipment, historical and weather data to identify subtle differences in crop performance. The hope is that, through their involvement, they’ll be able to present opportunities for more efficient and sustainable land management in the future, particularly in geographic areas that have been ravaged by drought and disease due to climate changes.

If it’s true that a healthier planet begins with a healthier farm—which is a direct result of healthier growing practices that are based on a combination of proven agronomic methodology and data-driven insights—then we can’t wait to see what Indigo Agriculture has in store for growers, buyers and world citizens in general in the years to come.

Do you run a performance economy-driven business? Or know one that should be profiled? Drop us a line and you may be featured in a future post!

Topics: pricing, performance economy


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