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UPDATE: Growmark & Corteva partner with Indigo on carbon

August 26, 2021

Updated August 26, 3:00 pm EST. Adds details about Indigo’s partnership with Corteva, which was announced after its partnership with Growmark.

Indigo Agriculture’s carbon initiative — Carbon by Indigo — got a boost this week after US farmer-owned cooperative Growmark and ag inputs business Corteva both announced partnerships with the Boston-based company.

Carbon by Indigo supports farmers in adopting practices that can help to build soil carbon and reduce their greenhouse gas emissions. These practices include cover cropping and reduced tillage. Carbon by Indigo, which was first established in 2019, verifies these practices to generate carbon credits, which it then sells through its carbon market to companies looking to offset their carbon footprint. It has already sold credits to Barclays, JPMorgan Chase, Ralph Lauren, and The North Face, and claims that its credits have seen a 35% increase in price over the last year.

The Growmark collaboration will see Growmark’s network of FS-branded ag retailers help their farmer customers get started with carbon trading.

Participating FS retailers will assist farmers with enrolling in Carbon by Indigo and implementing farming practices that can reduce emissions and sequester carbon. Indigo will take charge of measuring and verifying the outcomes of these practices to translate them into carbon credits.

FS retailers are “proven industry leaders in offering trusted expertise to help farmers interpret and simplify the complexities of modern agriculture,” Chris Harbourt, global head of carbon at Indigo Ag, said in a statement.

Meanwhile, Corteva’s own carbon initiative will use Carbon by Indigo’s “advanced capabilities for measuring and verifying carbon sequestration and greenhouse gas abatement at scale and to the highest available industry standards,” according to a press release.

Growmark’s team began exploring partnership opportunities last year, and spoke to everyone they possibly could to understand how carbon markets are developing, says the co-op’s director of agronomy marketing technology Lance Ruppert.

“We knew Chris Harbout from when he was at Agribile and AirScout. He reached out to us and that’s what started the initial connection with Indigo,” he told AFN, adding that Growmark’s participation in the carbon trade fits neatly with Growmark’s Endure sustainability initiative, which aims to support climate-positive practices in agriculture.

Explaining its choice of partner, Growmark describes Carbon by Indigo as “the only high-quality, third-party verified credit program in operation today.” Indigo’s inclusion of both soil sampling and statistical models in its measurement methodology was one of the attractive features of its platform, Ruppert says.

“We were looking for markets that are long term; that are doing the right things and aligning with a registry – they’re trying to get registry approval, or [are already] working with registries,” he adds. “That’s important. The buyers and sellers have to feel good about what constitutes a carbon credit.”

The release announcing Corteva and Indigo’s partnership said that the two organizations were following the standards set by the Climate Action Reserve, a nonprofit organization that manages leading GHG offset project registries.

Ruppert said that education would be the biggest hurdle ahead for the partnership. As more ag-focused carbon credit markets emerge, farmers will have an increasing number of options to compare and contrast. They need to know what questions to ask and how to evaluate each offering in order to make informed decisions.

“There are a lot of variables that we’re going to have to be able to explain and articulate to the farmer so they can understand,” Ruppert says. 

“For us, this is a long-term play. We don’t expect this huge windfall of acres in 2022. We are taking a long-term view, trying to help educate our growers and [help them] make good financial decisions for their long-term benefit.”

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