Kristi Lofton: Back to her Roots

Kristi Lofton works in agricultural technologies. A graduate of Tech901’s Code 1.0 course, Kristi works as a software engineer for The Seam, a locally based software company focused on agricultural commodities trading and sustainability efforts. I’ll get back to the concept of “agricultural technologies” a little later on (it’s a big deal, I promise).

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Let’s get back to Kristi.

This time last year, Kristi was working at a veterinarian clinic, working as a Vet Tech, manning the front desk, and managing the accounts. In her “spare time” she found herself tinkering with their administrative systems.

She liked the job, and she liked the clients.

Until her current job at The Seam, Kristi’s problem wasn’t that she didn’t enjoy her job- she just felt like she could be doing more: “Everyone has to figure out their life,” she told me. “I was always interested in a lot of things- but not interested enough.”

You see, Kristi had mastered the pivot long before she made the shift from Vet Tech to IT. Kristi Lofton grew up in Hughes Arkansas, just 40 minutes outside of Memphis. She worked for her father during farming season, helping with the soy beans and wheat their family grew.  Her father and mother still own the farm to this day. 

I drove a tractor on my father’s farm growing up, and I always told myself that’s not what I want.

After graduating high school, Kristi left the farm for New York. She attended Colombia University, and majored in neuroscience. You know, no big deal. She followed her studies with a brief stint as an EMT, and by the time she had made her way back to Memphis, she had narrowed down her career choices to just two: vet school or pharmacy school.

That’s when her brother-in-law (a programmer) decided to throw her a curveball. “He was like, ‘listen- I know you’ve been getting ready for this pharmacy thing for a while, but I want you to try something new. I think you be good at it’.” He told her about the growing need for coders, and the local schools geared towards training them. Schools like Tech901.

I asked Kristi why she chose Tech901, and she was frank with me: “with Tech901, I could keep my job.” The clinic supported Kristi, moving her to the night shift so she could attend morning classes. Code 1.0 wasn’t easy- as Kristi puts it, “Code is 100% what you put in.” But Kristi likes a challenge.

The Seam met Kristi through a mock interview coordinated by Tech901’s career services, and they liked her right away. When the job offer came shortly after, Kristi found herself making another big decision: “Do I want to keep going down the path to grad school, or do I want to pursue this new path- this career in coding?” 

If you don’t feel complete, like you’re struggling or you’re not meeting your potential… try something else.

Kristi decided to take the tech leap.

When we met up recently, Kristi told me she hasn’t once questioned her decision. She’s flourished during her time with The Seam, thanks to her drive and the support of her coworkers. “When it comes to my team, I can’t overstate how helpful and approachable every member is. Having coworkers you can lean on if you’re having trouble is priceless.”

But what exactly does Kristi do?  What is Agricultural Tech (See? I told you we’d get back to it)? If you’re interested in web programming or code, you’ll want to pay attention to this next part.  

The Next Tech Frontier

Let me get right to it: agriculture is the next technological frontier: for Kristi, for Memphis, and for the global market.

Those fields of peanuts, cotton, and soybeans, along with the generations of farmers who cultivate them, have long been subject to traditional methods when it comes to production and exchange. 

Local relationships are important. Trust a handshake. Honesty matters.

But these traditions also include file drawers full of paper receipts and physical records, which means it’s sometimes difficult to follow a product from its origins to its end-user.

Cue Agricultural Technology, often shortened by in-field players to “AgTech”. AgTech is a growing field focused on addressing issues at every stage of the agricultural process using modern technologies. From seed and plant health to issues of transparency and sustainability: the goal of AgTech is to make agriculture more efficient, more sustainable, and more transparent.

Agricultural transparency issues in particular have historied roots (Egyptian cotton of dubious origins, suspect spices) and modern implications (the great romaine recall of 2018).

That’s where software engineers like Kristi have a part to play: in the records, trading, and sustainability efforts of modern agriculture. Famers are able to grow more efficient and sustainable crops using monitoring technologies. The advent of blockchain means we can track cotton from the field to the store you’ll eventually purchase that sassy t-shirt from. 

The AgTech Market is indeed booming- and more importantly, it’s making its home right here in Memphis, Tennessee. 

Memphis AgTech

Memphis in particular has been on top of the AgTech boom for the last few years. Uniquely situated in both farming and city spheres, Memphis is at an advantage when it comes to those businesses developing around global agriculture markets.

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For example, Agricenter International has brought in $524 million to the Mid-South region annually. The Seam is revolutionizing global trade transparency, with over 8 billion in platform trades. Indigo Ag intends to bring 700 new jobs to Memphis as their workforce continues to grows over the next three years. 


As businesses like The Seam continue to invest in Memphis, the demand for locals with tech training will continue to rise. They’ll need more coders, and more developers, willing to learn on the job. You know, people like Kristi. 

Kristi Lofton is particularly well suited to the local AgTech boom. Growing up, there was a lot of talk about inheriting the family farm- but Kristi knew that wasn’t what she wanted to do. But while Kristi left the farm, she hasn’t left agriculture entirely- in fact, she’s returned to it with her work at the Seam.

As of November 5th, Kristi will have been working at the Seam for one year. Kristi beams with engagement talking about her day to day work.

She loves her office, and her team.

She loves her job.

At The Seam, Kristi is responsible for maintaining web applications for cotton trading and peanut shelling. She also builds/ maintains the web applications for The Seam’s growing sustainability initiatives (a passion project of hers). “A day in my life consists of getting to my desk in the morning, looking at issues that have been assigned to me through our work portal, and working on solutions.” Some of these issues take her 30 minutes- some take weeks. For the tech nerds out there, she work mostly with SQL, .NET (C#), and Angular (Javascript/HTML/CSS).

She’s just coming off of peanut-shelling season (or for Kristi, troubleshooting season), which means she’s getting started on the next big project: cotton sustainability efforts in collaboration with the U.S. Cotton Trust Protocol.

AgTech is a whole new frontier for Kristi- one she finds challenging, but also familiar. She’s had to learn a totally new way of thinking and problem solving. “I think my neuroscience background helped with that,” she laughs. “I mean, I majored in problem solving.”

But Kristi is also a Mid-Southerner. She grew up on the farm. She knows how farmers get work done. Now she can help them do more.

This post was adapted from an article in Tech901.

The Seam is hiring a website developer

The Seam is seeking a full-time web developer with specific skills in UI/UX to join its team in Memphis, Tennessee.

Job responsibilities include:

  • Design and development of new business web applications and specific application components.
  • Development of supporting databases and database code.
  • Maintenance of existing legacy applications and web client code.
  • Maintenance of existing databases and stored procedures.
  • Working closely with support personnel and customer service personnel to evaluate customer needs, answer questions, and solve problems.
  • Troubleshooting and debugging problem areas and working to quickly resolve issues.
  • Working closely with other developers in a team environment to provide quality application solutions.
  • Providing guidance in UI/UX best practices and helping ensure applications have modern, professional designs, and provide users with the best possible experience.

Required skills and experience:

  • Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science (or equivalent work experience)
  • Microsoft SQL Server 2012 or higher
  • Microsoft.NET (C# and VB.NET)
  • Javascript/jQuery
  • Angular 2 or higher (or similar Single Page Application language)
  • CSS/SASS, HTML5, Bootstrap or other UI styling tools

The Seam is seeking a full-time web developer with specific skills in UI/UX to join its team in Memphis, Tennessee.

Job responsibilities include:

  • Design and development of new business web applications and specific application components.
  • Development of supporting databases and database code.
  • Maintenance of existing legacy applications and web client code.
  • Maintenance of existing databases and stored procedures.
  • Working closely with support personnel and customer service personnel to evaluate customer needs, answer questions, and solve problems.
  • Troubleshooting and debugging problem areas and working to quickly resolve issues.
  • Working closely with other developers in a team environment to provide quality application solutions.
  • Providing guidance in UI/UX best practices and helping ensure applications have modern, professional designs, and provide users with the best possible experience.

Required skills and experience:

  • Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science (or equivalent work experience)
  • Microsoft SQL Server 2012 or higher
  • Microsoft.NET (C# and VB.NET)
  • Javascript/jQuery
  • Angular 2 or higher (or similar Single Page Application language)
  • CSS/SASS, HTML5, Bootstrap or other UI styling tools

Compensation is commensurate with experience.

The Seam is a leading technology partner for firms in the agricultural services industry.  We provide quality software platforms for trading and operations, as well as developing innovative technology solutions to today’s agricultural challenges.  The Seam provides a dynamic culture and environment in which to work.

Compensation is commensurate with experience.

The Seam is a leading technology partner for firms in the agricultural services industry.  We provide quality software platforms for trading and operations, as well as developing innovative technology solutions to today’s agricultural challenges.  The Seam provides a dynamic culture and environment in which to work.

Mark Pryor named to Technology Advisory Committee of the Commodities Futures Trading Commission

Mark Pryor, Chairman and CEO at The Seam, was recently appointed to the Technology Advisory Committee of the Commodities Futures Trading Commission. This role positions The Seam as a peer to high-level industry leaders and furthers the company’s mission to advance global innovation across all commodities.

See coverage in the Memphis Business Journal.

What is National Teach Ag Day?

National Teach Ag Day takes place each year on September 19. This day is designed to encourage others to teach school-based agriculture and recognize the important role that ag teachers play in our schools and communities. Every year, the National Teach Ag Campaign hosts a live webcast event somewhere in the country in conjunction with the day. National Teach Ag Day is a part of the National Teach Ag Campaign, an initiative of the National Council for Agricultural Education, led by the National Association of Agricultural Educators.

Who is it for?

National Teach Ag Day is for anyone who wants to celebrate school-based agricultural education, share the story of ag education’s importance and effectiveness in the United States, and encourage students to consider careers as agricultural educators. Anyone who wants to participate can find a variety of resources to help them talk about ag education at www.naae.org/teachag.

What happens on National Teach Ag Day?

Agricultural educators and education advocates will engage in a variety of activities to celebrate and promote the career of ag education. These activities may include capitol rallies, special lessons, community activities and more. The Teach Ag website is a clearinghouse of resources to help teachers and advocates, and free resources include a video, suggested teaching activities, games and giveaway items.

Ag education and The Seam

At The Seam, we believe that ag education is crucial to the future of our industry. We are dedicated to advancing ag education, focusing on how technology can and should provide trusted data to prove sustainability practices are being followed, ensure food safety and enhance traceability for global trade. The future of our farms rests in the hands of the men and women who will lead after us. And it’s our job to provide the resources and tools now to equip these individuals for the future.

Our CEO and Chairman, Mark Pryor, is involved in the ACSA International Cotton Institute, has presented at numerous conferences, serves on the board at Agricenter International and has formed partnerships with the National Cotton Council, American Peanut Council, Greater Memphis IT Council and more, to promote the importance of ag education. It’s our job as agricultural professionals to share knowledge and teach students a wide variety of skills, including science, math, communications, leadership, management and technology, to help them find their niche in the ag industry.

To offer more insight into the ag industry, we are launching a new AgEd blog series. Through this series, we will create an open dialogue for conversation and offer insight into new industry developments, share what we’re currently learning and more. Look out for this new series in the weeks to come!

Information in this post was adapted from the National Association of Agricultural Educators.

From ‘dirt to shirt’ — local tech tracks cotton’s origins to where it ends up

As consumers want to know more about the origin of products, a Memphis organization is using cutting-edge technology to uncover details about one of the Mid-South’s foundational crops: cotton.

In June of this year, The Seam, a provider of trading and technology services to agribusinesses, teamed up with the National Cotton Council — also Memphis based — to roll out a blockchain-based technology that will allow cotton to be traced back to the land where it was grown.

And, the technology can even give details on how the crop was produced.

“There’s an increased need for traceability and transparency in the supply chain,” said Mark Pryor, The Seam’s chairman and CEO. “And in cotton, the brands and the retailers — the Levis and the Brooks Brothers of the world — are demanding more traceable, transparent information throughout the supply chain.”

Read more via the Memphis Business Journal

The Seam Powers New Revolution of Peanuts Coming to the Delta

Delta Peanut selects The Seam Commodity Management Platform for U.S. operations

MEMPHIS, Tenn., July 18, 2019 – The Seam, a leading provider of trading and agribusiness software solutions, today announced that it will be working with Delta Peanut, LLC, a new peanut shelling operation based in Jonesboro, Arkansas, and the first shelling facility to open in the area in more than 50 years. The company has entered into a multi-year agreement with The Seam and its peanut commodity management platform.

The Seam’s platform is designed with foundational technology such as document digitization, real-time data for decisioning and embedded integrations with the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and Federal-State Inspection Service, among others.

“Launched in 2016, our cloud-based platform has been transformational for participating shelling organizations, buying point businesses, manufacturers and peanut farmers,” said Mark Pryor, Chairman and CEO at The Seam. “We are thrilled to have Delta Peanut join our expanding ecosystem. With a state-of-the-art shelling operation right in our backyard, there are immense opportunities to collaborate and innovate further.”

The platform delivers a digital hub for shelling organizations to interconnect with affiliate businesses and producers, providing the real-time status and value of stock, contracting, grading data integration and logistics management. Additionally, insight dashboards, position reporting, warehouse receipt management and system-guided workflows create streamlined processes, which result in more productive and cost-effective operations.

Delta Peanut has already planted the 2019 crop, with approximately 30,000 acres of peanuts in active production.  Three buying points will be operational to receive and store the crop. Components for the new shelling plant are currently under construction. Plant operations are targeted to commence in the first or second quarter of 2020.  In the interim, Delta Peanut will construct a warehouse, several drying sheds, and a shipping and distribution facility on the property in Jonesboro.

“The Seam is going to provide us with a solid technology foundation as we continue to build our infrastructure and plan for the future,” said Tommy Jumper, CEO at Delta Peanut. “There is a critical need for modern, integrated systems that provide transparency, interoperability and real-time data for decision-making. As we grow – adding buying points and possibly in-shell lines – it is comforting to know that The Seam’s extensible platform will grow with us.”

About Delta Peanut, LLC

Delta Peanut, LLC is a peanut shelling operation based in Jonesboro, Arkansas, and founded by Tommy Jumper. Once the plant is completed in the first half of 2020, an estimated 90,000 tons of peanuts will be processed in the first season. The 60-farmer cooperative has established three buying point locations and anticipates it will double in acreage over the next three to five years.

About The Seam

Based in Memphis, Tennessee, The Seam was founded by leading global agribusiness companies and specializes in commodity trading and agricultural commodity management systems. In December 2000, it began operating the world’s first online exchange for cotton trading. Since that time, the company has leveraged its trading and technology expertise in agriculture to expand into other commodity segments, including peanuts, soybeans, grains and dairy. As a proven leader in agtech, The Seam has cleared or processed more than $9 billion through its platforms. For more information, visit www.theseam.com.

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