Transparent Innovation: Change Tomorrow Starts With Experiments on the Ground Today


The future of agriculture will be defined by companies that turn their products into problem-mining machines. 

Creating for the future can be scary. 

It’s scary because you might fail, the project might not work and there really is no safety net for a company that goes all in on something that doesn’t work. 

There are many who long for the return of the industrial giants of the 20th century and all the market stability that brought with it. This nostalgic feeling is packed into archaic quotes like, “nobody gets fired for buying IBM.” 

But that was then, times have changed - and the world we find ourselves in demands that companies engage in significantly more innovation than they did in the past. 

Unfortunately, in agtech today, most of us are still operating as if the world still works the same way it did when industry was controlled by a few major companies. We accept incremental improvements and hide our innovation inside of our four walls until the danger of it mattering has passed. 

Before I go on, I know that many of you are thinking, “but, Ehsan, farmers face so much uncertainty, we can’t expect them to be our guinea pigs.” 

Of course not, but the answer is not to rush back to the safety of the crowd. See, I think that there are many in the agtech community today who use the reality that “fail often doesn’t work for farmers” to hide from trying anything new. 

While it’s true that farmers have one shot at getting it right every year, innovation matters on farms more today than it ever has before. Farmers don’t need your mundane, Silicon Valley-backed startup to show them a new version of Granular because you can “do it better.” 

No, farmers want innovation, they want actual solutions for problems they face. They want to adopt the technology that will actually help them care for their land better. They want the information and decision-making solutions that will help them keep the family farm. 

The problem is not that we are disrupting farming or challenging the status quo with innovative products. The problem is that we are taking on massive amounts of funding to take shots in the dark and we are asking farmers to bear the burden when those shots don’t hit their intended target. 

The market demands true innovation, but that innovation cannot be at the cost of the farmers we claim to serve. We need to find ways to bring new technologies to farming that move us into the future without risking the entire present. We need to take our moonshots and break them into smaller-scale tests that we monitor and observe before we move to full production. We need to collaborate with potential partners who are solving a different element of the agricultural tech stack. 

We need transparent innovation. 

Why I Believe in Transparent Innovation

The signs are all around us - in the changing climate, the instability of supply chains, the falling health of our land, and the impending scarcity of resources we once thought endless - there is no shortage of problems to be solved in agriculture. 

Unfortunately, most companies in agtech spend most of their time today theorizing the best way to get started. 

We want to offer up a different solution. 

Transparent innovation allows us to work closely with our customers on the ground to identify the problems that mean the most to them and then develop potential solutions for those problems adjacent to our current technologies. 

For example, our team began investigating the capability of our sensor to measure and monitor CO2 levels in storage facilities post-harvest, as a way to track respiration rates, adding an additional measurement layer for our clients. We talked about this quite a bit with some of our more innovative customers and found interest and collaboration with Jared and Jason Cook. They wanted to see if they could use the CO2 sensor to monitor other crop cycle data they were already collecting in a meaningful way. 

To be honest, neither of us knew if it was even possible, but because of our transparent innovation initiative, we were able to make the time investment to see what we could build. 

When we finished this project, Jared, our customer, was able to measure CO2 release levels from soils, helping him to learn “more this year about our soils and environment than the last five years combined.” 

Jared’s posts hit the heart of why we believe in transparent innovation and why we will continue to allocate a portion of our team's time every year to innovative projects. He says that while the core value proposition of our technology is still the reason he buys it, the new technology has provided “a few exciting insights on CO2 cycling…” 


With carbon markets in their infancy, time will tell the true value of this discovery and how it can translate into customer decisions downstream. However, it has allowed us to partner with our customer in a way that mattered to him and solve yet another problem he wanted to solve with our technology. 

And the key is that we carried all of the responsibility for this innovation. We need more of that in agtech today.  

The late art director and author, George Lois, has a quote that sums up my feelings on innovation in agriculture perfectly, “Most people work at keeping their job, rather than doing a good job. If you're the former, you're leading a meaningless life. If you're the latter, keep up the good work.”

We’re here to keep up the good work, here’s to more transparent innovation. 

If you’re developing innovative technology in agriculture, we would love to connect with you. Please reach out to our team here

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