UNHInnovation and Regrow Ag, a leading software provider for agricultural Measurement, Reporting, and Verification (MVR) and Sustainability Insights, jointly celebrate the company’s recent recognition of the prestigious TIME100 Most Influential Companies list. The company was also named the No. 1 Most Innovative Company in Agriculture by Fast Company in March. Both honors underscore the vital role played by Regrow to enable a climate-resistant food supply. For UNHInnovation, it is a success story of UNH-originated technology making a global impact.

A key piece of Regrow’s technology is a DeNitrification-DeComposition (DNDC) soil carbon model, technology that was originally developed at UNH by the late Dr. Changsheng Li in the 1990s. The core components of Regrow’s software platform, MRV (Measurement, Reporting, and Verification) and Sustainability Insights, are built on a process-driven soil carbon model and a machine learning-based toolkit model.

These models leverage a range of data to identify crops, tillage intensity, and other farm management practices. The data is processed by the DNDC soil carbon model, which estimates a baseline level of carbon in the soil and predicts the environmental impact of resilient farming practices on emissions reduction and carbon removal.

“We are excited to see Regrow making an impact of this magnitude” said Marc Eichenberger, Associate Vice President and Chief Business Development and Innovation Officer at UNH. “Sustainability is at the heart of our institution’s mission, and Regrow is able to provide dynamic, specific data and insights into trends in regenerative agriculture adoption in a way that is both scalable and economically feasible.”

The DNDC model originally developed by Dr. Li, a beloved professor in the Institute for the Study of Earth, Oceans, and Space at UNH, was the product of his life’s work. Li spent his career building this one-of-a-kind mathematical ecosystem model that simulates the soil biogeochemical processes occurring in agriculture systems throughout the world. In other words, the DNDC can accurately simulate greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions across a variety of terrestrial ecosystems, under any climate condition, which is what makes Regrow’s solution so scalable.

Dr. William (Bill) Salas, Regrow Co-Founder and Chief Strategy Officer, recalls working closely with Dr. Li for over a decade as a scientist at UNH’s Complex Systems Research Center.

“He was an amazing gentleman. He was very methodical, transparent, and committed to addressing climate change through agriculture mitigation and adaptation,” Salas said of the former colleague who he describes as a mentor and dear friend. “Dr. Li was really focused on understanding the science of microbial interactions and wanted the DNDC model development to be based on first principles as much as possible, so it could be used globally. He knew that microbial processes throughout the globe are the same; there are just different environmental controls.”

While Li was the architect behind the model, Salas committed to help him transition it from a research environment to a broader use environment, including a commercial side. In 2010, the pair formed a spinoff consulting company, DNDC Applications, Research and Training (DNDC-ART), to focus on additional research and training for DNDC applications.

“We both wanted to see the science be used, not just written about,” says Salas. “Sadly, Dr. Li passed away in 2015, but I felt compelled to keep moving the work forward. That was always at the core of what he wanted to do.”

After Li’s passing, Salas negotiated an exclusive license from the university to use DNDC for commercial applications to help assess carbon markets and support ecosystem service transitions for the ag value chain. When DNDC-ART morphed into a new company called Dagan, co-founded by Salas and a passionate group of scientists and data analysts in 2018, the intellectual property for DNDC transitioned with it. Then in early 2021, Dagan merged with FluroSat, an agronomic insights company founded by CEO Anastasia Volkova, to form Regrow, which holds the exclusive commercial license to DNDC today. 

In August 2022, DNDC was granted the first generalized approval by the Climate Action Reserve (CAR) under their Soil Enrichment Protocol (SEP). The robust model continues to be used and supported by the global academic community and has been used in more than 500 peer-reviewed publications.

Since the merger of FluroSat and Dagan, Regrow Ag has raised $55M in Series A & B funding. Its employee base has tripled, from around 50 employees to more than 150 in 17 different countries. And its technology now monitors and analyzes more than 1.2 billion acres of crops on multiple continents.

“The successful development of Regrow is intimately tied to Changsheng Li, as well as the capability and support of the University of New Hampshire, and specifically, UNHInnovation,” said Salas. “We are committed to Dr. Li’s vision of moving the DNDC science forward to help humanity, by taking the incredible science that he created the framework for in the code base and using it to help in the fight against climate change, both from a mitigation and adaptation perspective, as well as helping farmers economically.”

“Agriculture is an important part of New Hampshire’s history and economy. The technology and ambitions of Regrow are critical for New Hampshire, and indeed, around the globe,” said Eichenberger. “We look forward to further supporting Bill Salas and Regrow Ag in the future.”