Frequently asked questions.
CIBO, a science-based software company, was founded by Flagship Pioneering in 2015 to apply science and technology to the scaling of environmentally and economically sustainable agriculture. By using big data, computer vision, remote sensing, and science-based modeling, CIBO delivers unique field-level insights at a national scale to empower users with the knowledge needed to take action.
Dr. Bruno Basso, an internationally renowned professor of earth and environmental sciences at Michigan State University, whose research into plant growth led the academic industry in that field, helped develop the platform. Dr. Basso founded CIBO in 2015 along with founder investor Flagship Pioneering. CIBO Impact™ is based on an exclusively licensed technology developed over 30 years from Michigan State University that simulates the way plants grow daily in varied environments. CIBO engineers scaled that core technology and augmented it with critical elements, including proprietary data science algorithms and artificial intelligence (AI) modeling applied to satellite imagery.
Both the technology and the approach are continually enriched with farmers’ collaboration around the country to validate data models and obtain feedback on insights and offerings.
Farmers are intimately knowledgeable about their parcels of land—we have no intention of replacing that. CIBO fills the information gap for any stakeholder who needs to make better-informed, objective decisions about land parcels with which he or she are not personally familiar. For example, when an individual purchases or leases a new piece of land or when a bank is considering approving a loan for a farmer.
Most agriculture applications focus on farm management, not the objective land evaluation that CIBO provides. Second, other offerings rely upon farmers or users to input local data about their land—CIBO uses a science-based approach that removes that data input burden from farmers’ shoulders.
Last, while other offerings might address farmland information elements, none deliver to individual users the same depth and scale of land information—at the parcel level and national scale—as what’s made available by CIBO. For instance:
- Only CIBO combines public data with proprietary insights driven by ecosystem simulation, computer vision, and data science to deliver comprehensive, science-based, and objective information about land parcels.
- Only CIBO brings objective valuation to what has been a highly fragmented land valuation process and enables users to predict a parcel’s future productivity and value.
- Only CIBO delivers rich, accurate insights about land parcels via a single technology platform.
Our goal at CIBO is to create a new, common “language” that will help inform and drive any land stakeholder’s decisions, even those who aren’t personally familiar with a particular parcel.
CIBO Impact is an internet application that delivers objective, high-value information about farmland, at scale, to accelerate and advance the adoption of economically and environmentally sustainable agriculture.
Specifically, CIBO Impact quantifies, verifies and registers agricultural carbon credits in our voluntary carbon marketplace.
CIBO Impact quantifies the Regenerative Potential of all cropland in the US based on our science-based SALUS modeling.
CIBO Impact verifies attested farming management practices with both our SALUS-based Impact Calculator and satellite-based remote sensing. These can detect and quantify attested practices like no-till and low-till management, cover crop emergence, remaining residue and biomass levels on the ground, cash crop planting, chemical and fertilizer application and harvest.
CIBO Impact is its own voluntary carbon marketplace and carbon registry. Farmers retain ownership of the carbon credits they produce. CIBO Impact provides the marketplace and the marketing that allows carbon offset buyers to purchase annual carbon credits directly from farmers.
CIBO tracks the annual carbon credits from each field in its registry. CIBO brokers purchase credits on behalf of the farmer issues the certificates to carbon buyers and ensures prompt payment to the farmer. CIBO retains a percentage of each sale as a service fee.
The agricultural ecosystem has become more volatile and unpredictable, with every year seeming like “not typical”. As the effects of climate change, like increased severe weather events like droughts, become more prevalent, agricultural systems must change and adapt. CIBO Impact provides all stakeholders in the ecosystem the information and access needed to promote their land’s economic and environmental sustainability. Regenerative practices work to reduce and even reverse the environmental impact of farming so that the climate stops changing while at the same time improving economic sustainability by creating healthy, productive, and resilient soil.
Additionally, CIBO brings grower access to carbon markets to help finance and scale their adoption of these valuable practices. Many farmers have already been earning carbon credits for their hard work farming sustainably but have no way to get paid—or no way to get paid quickly. CIBO Impact cuts through the carbon market clutter with a fair, farmer-centric platform to connect farmers with companies like Microsoft, Timberland, Apple, and others, making very public carbon neutrality goals.
Our long-term goal is to create a new legacy that protects and enriches the land, farmers’ livelihoods and helps America’s transformation to sustainable agriculture both economically and environmentally. Short-term, our goal is to help the 64% of US farmers who have already implemented regenerative practices like cover cropping, low and no-till management practices and create additional incentives to the 21% of farmers who are thinking about it. US farmers get easy access to the carbon market and get paid for the following sustainable farming practices.
In 2020, $1.4 billion was available to farmers, and only a small fraction of that has been paid so far this year. Farming is one of the most challenging jobs on the planet and many farmers have been following regenerative practices for years with the understanding that it’s good for their soil, their yield and their bottom line. Now, society is asking them to help save the planet, so we need to make it easier for them to get credit for their work.
CIBO Impact is a carbon marketplace that levels the playing field for participants and cuts out the middleman. CIBO enables financial returns by creating a competitive market while allowing landowners and producers to more easily meet CO2 reduction goals and requirements within their supply chains that are quickly becoming the norm.
Landowners/Producers are participants able to buy and sell credits, providing another source of revenue in an industry with historically-tight margins.
CIBO Impact gives all stakeholders the rich, credible and detailed insights they need. The platform helps farmers and landowners realize instant earnings from their sustainable farming practices without time-consuming soil sampling, mandated farm visits and other complicated logistics. CIBO Impact is the only way to scale and accelerate sustainable farming—both economically and environmentally—in the US.
Yes! We have a pilot program starting with 30,000 acres and a core group of four farmers in Illinois—farms range from 400 to 3,700 acres.
We had 10,000 credits immediately available at launch in October 2020. Because each field’s biology and soil composition is unique, any agricultural carbon credit system must consider the specifics of that field’s soil, management practices, and crop. Only CIBO can validate agriculture carbon credits at scale.
Companies and investors interested in buying carbon credits can visit cibotechnologies.com. They can easily see all the participating farms and fields in the CIBO Impact maps and identify the specific farms they’re interested in and how many carbon credits are produced per field across the country. Anyone interested in buying CIBO Impact Carbon Credits can navigate to cibotechnologies.com/getcarbon.
Yes, it’s open to any crop landowner or operator in the US who wants to check out how many carbon credits are available for their land and its regenerative potential—calculated right down to the parcel. Registration is also open to anyone else interested in discovering new opportunities and deep insights about any farm or field, from productivity and land productivity and stability to historical management practices and environmental impact. They should signal their interest by navigating to https://www.cibotechnologies.com/farmer/.
CIBO Impact also has an innovative land intelligence system that makes an unmatched depth and scale of farmland information readily available to any user. The proprietary valuation and land scoring processes blend more than one petabyte of proprietary data with tough-to-reach public information to generate simple scores anyone can use to evaluate and compare land parcels efficiently.
No. The farmers or landowners retain ownership of the carbon credits. CIBO provides the calculation, verification and marketplace where carbon producers can identify and sell their carbon.
Each field is unique. Many factors go into understanding how much a farmer could make from placing CIBO Impact Carbon Credits on the marketplace: the number of acres, management practices like low till or no-till, cover cropping, nitrogen fertilizer application, etc. Ultimately, CIBO wants to enable farmers to price their credits and let the marketplace govern the rates.
For the pilot program and to get it off the ground, CIBO has set the credit price at $20. On average, we’re seeing between ¼ and ¾ of a credit per acre in our pilot group. For a 500-acre farm generating ¾ credit per acre, that’s 375 credits at $20/credit, which comes out to an extra $7,500.
For each sold credit, CIBO retains 20%, and the farmer takes home $6000. For our Pilot program participants, CIBO is pre-buying the first 100 credits from all farmers and then selling those on the marketplace to ensure that our early adopters and firm believers see some immediate benefit.
CIBO is focused on farmers and farm owners that are already engaged in sustainable and regenerative agriculture. That is up to 64% of crop farmers.
We believe that the farmers already making environmentally responsible decisions should also be economically rewarded without waiting.
We believe along with the World Bank, USDA, EPA and others recognize that the market rate for voluntary carbon credit is well below the rates believed to be necessary to compel a shift in management practice ($40 – $80 per tonne). At $20/credit, relying on carbon farming alone to offset the cost of regenerative agriculture will not work. The cost of cover cropping comes in at $37/acre on average.
That’s why CIBO is focusing on farmers who are already using these practices. And there’s good reason to do so. According to the SARE/CTIC National Cover Crop Survey, using cover crops improves productivity and yield after just one year. The effects compound every year, which means overall reductions in input costs (e.g., fertilizers and chemicals) and increases in yield.
Nothing. There are no upfront verification costs, and payments for available carbon credits are passed directly to the farmer after CIBO retains a small transaction fee. We believe in paying farmers instead of making farmers pay for the good choices they’re making.
Verified carbon credits from prior seasons are immediately available for purchase on the open CIBO carbon marketplace.
Yes, we hope to open it up to everyone by 2021.
How it works
Growers sign up at cibotechnologies.com for free.
After locating their land in CIBO Impact’s map-based application, farmers can see the regenerative potential and available carbon credits that patented CIBO simulations have identified from their land. They can then update their credits with the CIBO Impact calculator to add and modify farm management practices (e.g., no-till and low-till, cover cropping, nitrogen application, etc.).
Farmers set the price of their carbon credits produced from the management practices they’re already employing. CIBO then validates the practices with zero-touch and zero-hassle to the farmer so they can focus on farming.
Verified carbon credits from prior seasons are immediately available for purchase on the open CIBO carbon marketplace.
Carbon credits that are anticipated—like planted cover crops—become available as soon as CIBO’s remote sensing and computer vision confirm they have emerged and left on the field as organic carbon-sequestering biomass.
Credits are immediately available on the voluntary CIBO Impact Carbon Marketplace, where anyone can buy them.
Payments for available carbon credits are passed directly to the farmer after CIBO retains a small transaction fee. Carbon credits that are not yet validated – like for cover crops that have been planted but not emerged – may be pre-ordered and reserved.
Buyers can purchase carbon credits by filling out the form on https://www.cibotechnologies.com/getcarbon/
Buyers click the “Buy Carbon Credits” button to start the transaction. All buyers receive a certificate detailing the credits they have purchased and a badge they can use on their website, internal communications, and social media channels.
As you buy more credits, your impact increases and you’ll receive a report detailing just how big your impact is.
CIBO Impact has been independently verified by farmers. Affiliations:
Some of the best minds in the industry back the proprietary data and insights provided by CIBO.
CIBO derives our unique data and insights by combining:
- an objective, scientific approach built upon more than 30 years of proven academic research across the U.S.;
- technology that simulates the way plants grow daily basis, in varied environments, which we exclusively license from Michigan State University; and
- powerful, breakthrough technologies like artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning.
But we don’t rely upon science and technology alone. Our CIBO Farmers Advisory Network (CFAN) members and other farmers around the country helped us create and continually update the extensive, farm-level dataset used to test and validate the results of all of the models, simulations, algorithms, and insights that go into the CIBO platform. These farmer partners ensure all of CIBO’s science, products, and proprietary metrics are in keeping with reality.
Simply put, we replace the local land information, historically input by farmers with science.
The CIBO technology relies upon proven, scientific modeling that helps us understand “how a plant grows,” for instance. We generate rich insights from that kind of raw data by applying proprietary data science algorithms, computer vision, and AI modeling to remotely sensed data (such as satellite images). Then we combine those insights with easy access to publicly available data for a unified set of rich land details about each parcel.
Since we value—but don’t rely upon—local data input by farmers, we unburden farmers from inputting data details about their land and enabling our insights to scale infinitely.
Regarding Field Management: Remote sensing is a significant source of verification data because it scales well. We would use remote-sensed methodologies for crop rotation, cover cropping, and tillage for verification. If that fails, we will use other verification methods, depending on specific circumstances. For example, suppose we cannot verify a crop rotation using remote sensing. In that case, we might ask the grower for electronic planting records from a combine as evidence that the specified crop rotation occurred. Remote-sensed methods will work in the vast majority of cases; we will deal with the exceptions on a case-by-case basis.
Regarding Nitrogen Application: One exception to this rule is nitrogen application. Growers upload electronic records of nitrogen application. These files are called “As Applied” files and are produced by a combine as a real-time record of nitrogen fertilizer application amounts. These files are tagged to a specific geographical location and have a timestamp, so they are good evidence of how much nitrogen fertilizer was applied to a field in a given year.
Regarding Tillage and Remote Sensing: Different tillage types leave different amounts of residue on the field. These differing amounts of residue result in different near-IR “signatures”; using infrared and near-infrared wavebands, we apply residue indices. This sensing tillage method is similar to the process used to develop NDVI and other spectral indices.
CIBO’s proprietary algorithms update continuously based upon real-time data—such as weather information and satellite imagery—to reflect the latest market and on-the-ground developments. CIBO data and insights that feature different types of in-season forecasts—such as yield forecast, planting acres, and harvest status—also continually update during the growing season.
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