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April 29, 2020

The Zillow app of agricultural regeneration

We can check the price of a home from a mobile app, but what if that technology could be used to shop for agricultural land — and simultaneously improve environmental sustainability?

Bruno Basso, ecosystem scientist and professor in the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences at Michigan State University is the co-founder and chief scientist of CiBO Technologies, an innovative land intelligence system described by Basso as “the Zillow of agriculture land and environmental sustainability.”

Basso and CiBO Technologies built a team to implement geospatial technology that has been developed and tested over 30 years into an app that identifies the value and environmental sustainability of a piece of land.

The technology allows farmers, policymakers, stakeholders or any curious person the ability to know how a single piece of land can be valued economically and the environmental impact it can generate, along with the risk and variability in productivity associated to its cultivation under different management and future climates.

“When it comes to land, there is no transparency at the moment,” Basso said.

If you were to buy a home or a car – a home or a car — one wouldn’t purchase without checking the basement or knowing how many miles are on the vehicle.

Using satellite imagery and crop modeling to evaluate the land productivity, stability and sustainability, Basso's technology helps prospective buyers make informed decisions about that parcel of land along with the possibility of knowing how that land will respond to changing climate, new genetic and management strategies to be more regenerative.

The CiBO Technologies app can process and quantify the land’s genetic makeup, soil quality and identify through artificial intelligence how it is managed, which are deciding factors when it comes to a farmer or land investor purchasing land. It gives the buyer knowledge of the land’s history and assigns a range of scores which can be valued due to these circumstances.

“I’m much more interested in helping the buyer understand the sustainability and productivity of the piece of land than simply letting people know the price of the land,” Basso said, describing the technology as much more powerful than Zillow — a leading real estate and rental marketplace.

CiBO Technologies considers the complexity of biophysical and geochemical interactions between soil, plant and the atmosphere. The platform also provides a futuristic outlook considering changes in climate, technology and genetics, and how each piece of land would respond to these changes. These capabilities can be used to compare the carbon emissions of multiple pieces of land in order to make farming more sustainable around the world.

“There is great satisfaction in seeing the impact of hours of working, sacrificing family time and holidays for the possibility of seeing the research applied and creating something that will continue to improve the planet in a more sustainable way when it comes to agriculture,” Basso said.

CiBO Technologies plans to expand its platform from the corn, soybeans, wheat and cotton fields of the United States abroad to places where agriculture is a critical sector, such as Europe, Asia, South America.

The app’s development was the work of many. Research started with Basso’s doctoral professors and has made its way to development with the help of investors and MSU Technology.

“The dream of any researcher is to see their science have a positive impact on the community and help the public,” Basso said, “and I am very proud of this work and grateful for the support and visions of the investors and MSU.”

By: Kamryn Romano

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