Inside INdiana Business

Jay County agriculture tech company is focusing on sustainability

(photo courtesy: USDA/Preston Keres)

PORTLAND, Ind. (Inside INdiana Business) — A small software company based in Jay County is playing a major role in helping global agriculture companies fulfill their sustainability initiatives, while also helping farmers earn a premium for their crops.

The MyFarms platform helps farmers track their production practices, including data on erosion rates and water, air and soil quality.

In an interview with Inside INdiana Business, MyFarms founder and chief executive officer Chris Fennig said the environmental impact is a key component.

“It’s a platform that is built with the farmer in mind but also caters to some of the world’s largest businesses that want to empower farmers but also want to track progress toward environmental goals that they have as a company,” said Fennig.

One such company is Germany-based BASF, which owns two of the most well-known cotton seed varieties in the U.S.

“For consumers, knowing where cotton comes from and how it is grown is increasingly important. It is a story we value, and one we can help share,” Malin Westfall, U.S. Cotton Lead for BASF, said in a news release when the company launched its sustainability program.

Cotton farmers who grow certain BASF brands can get their cotton certified and verified through independent audits, “allowing us to track specific environmental and social measures to an individual farmer.”

The registered growers get paid more for their cotton.

The verification is attractive to clothing brands that want to lessen the impact on the environment through the farmers where they get their raw products, such as cotton.

Fennig says the data collected by MyFarms goes to a third party to certify the sustainability of the crop.

‘Essentially every pass across the field is documented by the grower whether it be the planting operation, fertilizer, spraying tillage operations. And then we pass that data that operational data to third party scientific models,” explained Fennig. “Then we take the output of those models, and we aggregate them. The brands can speak to consumers about topics that are of great importance to them.”

Fennig, who grew up on a fourth-generation family farm near Portland, says the platform can be accessed for any crop where the end-user wants to know the sustainability practices of the farm.

“Any major corporation that’s taking those concerns seriously, when they do a truly science-based analysis of their supply chain…if you want to be serious about mitigating some of these environmental issues, those are the types of things that we get called on to help out with,” said Fennig.

MyFarms has recently partnered with Indianapolis-based Eleven Fifty Academy to hire several of their graduates to join the software development team.