Regrow seeds new ways to reduce emissions

A science and technology platform developed in Australia is helping reduce greenhouse gas emissions across the global agricultural supply chain.

Regrow’s Agriculture Resilience platform is helping more than 100 agribusinesses, retailers and food companies worldwide to measure emissions across their supply chains and use the insights to improve farming practices or develop remediation programs. The platform continuously monitors 1.2 billion acres using data captured by satellites operated by NASA and the European Union and processed by Google Earth Engine. It can cater to the unique soils, crops and farming practices of 45 countries.

Regrow’s innovative technology has attracted $55 million in venture capital to date. It was named one of Fast Company’s 50 most innovative companies and the number one most innovative company in agriculture in 2023. Time Magazine also included Regrow in its list of 100 most influential companies of 2023.

‘Agriculture is responsible for around 30% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions,’ says Dr. Anastasia Volkova, Regrow’s co-founder and CEO. ‘Reducing emissions across the agricultural supply chain will be key to the world’s transition to net zero.

‘Regrow’s solution evaluates the environmental impacts of agricultural management and finds ways to remediate them. Our goal is to help growers and companies develop and invest in sustainable regenerative agriculture programs that build resilience across the supply chain.’

Uncovering opportunities to reduce emissions

Regrow had its roots in Flurosat, Volkova’s first company. Founded in 2016, Flurosat used drone and satellite data, along with algorithms and other tools, to help farmers optimise crop production. In early 2021, FluroSat merged with the soil health startup Dagan to form Regrow.

Regrow’s mandate is to promote resilience across the agriculture, food and fibre supply chain. Its platform gives companies unprecedented visibility into emissions across their agricultural supply chain so they can identify opportunities to reduce or abate emissions. The Regrow Agriculture Resilience platform also measures the potential impact of these opportunities, helping companies develop effective and attainable emission-reduction programs.

Growers can also use the platform to adjust their inputs or crop type to boost yield, while reducing carbon emissions. For instance, they can reduce the number of times they till a field, or plant a cover crop rather than leave a field bare, to minimise emissions.

In the US, Regrow is working with the Kellogg Company to reduce greenhouse gas emissions across the company’s value chain by 15% by the end of 2030. Kellogg’s InGrained™ program incentivises rice farmers in the company’s main sourcing region to adopt climate-friendly practices.

Regrow’s platform will model the emissions outcomes of specific farm management practices, such as irrigation and fertiliser optimisation and soil health management. These assessments use data specific to each farmer’s location, soil type, crop variety, weather data and other factors. This hyper-specific data allows farmers to choose the soil health practice(s) that will best serve their operations, both environmentally and financially.

Regrow will then quantify the impact of those changes on methane emissions using its proprietary soil carbon model, DNDC. Regrow will also verify farm management practices, so that Kellogg’s can confidently compensate farmers for their emissions reductions.

‘Other solutions are locally focused, so they may only analyse a certain number of crops in a specific country,’ says Volkova. ‘We have exclusive commercial rights to science models that allow us to assess land on a global scale. It makes our solution unique as it meets the needs of companies touching global agricultural supply chains.’

A competitive market open to innovative solutions

The US was Regrow’s first export market. In 2018, the company received an Accelerating Commercialisation Grant from the Australian Government that supported its expansion plans. Around the same time, it was accepted into Austrade’s Landing Pads program in San Francisco.

‘The US is a very competitive market and businesses are open to any innovation that will give them an edge,’ says Volkova. ‘We felt our scalable solution and speed to market would be attractive to companies that wanted a first-mover advantage. There were also financial incentives to encourage businesses to take up new technologies.

‘Many of our prospective customers – global agricultural and food companies – are in the US. We wanted to be near the decision-makers. A base in the US also allows us to expand across the Americas – for example, Latin America is a major market for us. It was also easier to launch into Europe from the US.’

Landing Pads key to successful US launch

Regrow (Flurosat at the time) was among the first companies to take part in the Landing Pads program in 2018. The program was instrumental in launching the business in the US.

‘The first two months were dedicated to seeing whether our solution resonated with the US market,’ says Volkova. ‘We also looked at customer personas, go-to-market models, and what elements of our Australian business model would work in the US.

‘The most valuable part was getting access to US go-to-market experts,’ she says. ‘It was a game-changer, hearing from market leaders on how SaaS companies like ours can go about entering the market. We shifted our thinking on our go-to-market strategy based on what we learned.’

Volkova is one of many Landing Pads alumni who share their experience with incoming cohorts. She tells them ‘the US is a brilliant market because its entrepreneurial culture means people are interested in new businesses, technologies and ideas. Australian companies will have to adjust their go-to-market strategy to cater for the US customer profile, which is quite different to Australia.’

Five years after entering the US, Regrow counts Cargill, General Mills, Nutrien, BASF and the Kellogg Company among its customers. The company has also partnered with like-minded organisations such as environmental sustainability consultancy Quantis.

Long-time support from Austrade

Austrade has supported Volkova since the Flurosat days. ‘I appreciate all the help that Austrade has given us over the years,’ she says. ‘We’ve had many opportunities to meet potential customers in different markets or to join immersive in-market trips. For someone who didn’t know the market at the time, Austrade’s support made all the difference.’

Austrade invited Volkova and her team to speak at industry events where they could demonstrate their technology and ‘have conversations with companies that were starting to think about sustainability,’ says Volkova.

‘We invested in building strong relationships with the large enterprises we were targeting. We positioned ourselves as a trusted adviser. We discussed what success would look like and how our software could help them achieve their sustainability goals. These personal connections were key to our success in the market.’

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