Cheerios maker General Mills relies on home cooking to combat inflation

July 12, 2023: Agriculture and the widespread food ecosystem are responsible for roughly one-third of international greenhouse gas emissions. Growing things is a dirty business, but new technology now offers farmers and significant food groups ways of making it cleaner.

Growing everything we eat at the increasing volumes we need depletes the soil of nutrients and produces harmful carbon emissions. Regenerative agriculture aims to reduce emissions and protect the soil in various ways. These include crop rotation, cover crops, increasing biodiversity, composting, and livestock integration. Increasingly, it also includes improving crops’ resilience to climate adaptation.

One instance is Regrow Ag, a business focused on both decarbonizing and renewing agriculture. It takes satellite imagery, weather data, government soil maps, and on-the-ground observations on specific granges. It feeds it into a computer model that learns how soils and crops behave based on different conditions. Regrow works with farm management partners, including John Deere, to import crop, yield, and management data into its platform.

“We monitor 1.2 billion acres on which we observe the adoption of the agricultural practices so we can inform both private and public sector how to act around it,” said co-creator and CEO Anastasia Volkova. “Is it good for the environment, good for the water, good for soil health? Is it sustainable? Is it bringing resilience to the farm and the community?”

The model also offers ways to improve. Regrow then sells all that information to customers like General Mills, which has pledged to promote regenerative agriculture on farmland of one million acres by 2030.

“We source ingredients such as oats for Cheerios, and wheat for Pillsbury, so we source from the Great Plains of the U.S. and Canada. We source dairy from the Great Lakes region. So we needed tools that could model the impacts of agriculture in those places,” said Steve Rosenzweig, agriculture science information with General Mills.

Corporations like General Mills that are pledging net zero emissions buy the company’s software and offer it to farmers, in addition to payments for ecosystem uses. So, if the farmer changes the practices on their farm in a way that helps sequester carbon or remove carbon from the atmosphere, they get paid for that carbon and regrow to estimate that amount.

Regrow Ag is backed by Galvanize Climate Solutions, Main Sequence Ventures, Microsoft’s M12, Time Ventures, Rethink Impact and Cargill. According to the company and Pitchbook, the total budget is about $60 million.

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