Reducing Crop Protection’s Environmental Impact

Control Weeds Not Farming

While crop protection has benefits for our food supply, we must also consider its impact on the environment beyond the field. Crop protection products enable farmers to meet the world’s growing food and feed demand while using less land and resources, which reduces the need to expand agricultural production into natural habitats. 
Agriculture must strike a balance between the need for tools like crop protection and potential trade-offs posed by increasing the use of such tools. With new products and technologies, we aim to ensure that our solutions serve farmers’ needs and wellbeing, while also reducing the impact of the products on the environment.

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By definition, farming alters the natural environment in order to supply the food we eat across the globe. Farmers need to tend to their land to protect their crops from harmful insects and diseases as well as guard them from weeds competing for the same land, nutrients and water. 


Crop protection is not just critical for farmers’ businesses, it is imperative for our food system. Historically, crop decimation from blight and pests resulted in starvation and conflict in the developing world, and it is still a significant threat in many countries. Crop protection gives us the security of knowing our food supply is better protected from this type of destruction. 


Crop protection also increases yields, allowing farmers to grow more food on less land, which is a necessity now more than ever. Today, farmers use less than one third of the land they would have needed in 1961 to produce the same amount of food. This ability to do more with less reduces the need to expand agricultural production into natural habitats.

A close up of green plants growing in a field.

By 2030, we aim to reduce the treated-area-weighted environmental impact per hectare of Bayer’s global crop protection portfolio by 30% against a 2014 – 2018 average baseline.
To achieve this, we take a holistic approach that starts with the way we develop crop protection solutions and finishes with product application.

  • We’re working to reduce the amount of crop protection products needed per hectare, our product emissions to the surrounding environment and improving the environmental profile of the active ingredients while ensuring its efficacy.
  • In addition, we strive for the safe and responsible use of crop protection products with our Stewardship efforts. We collaborate with external experts to apply state-of-the-art methodology for measuring the environmental impact of our crop protection products.

As a market leader in crop protection, we have already achieved exceptionally low environmental impact levels of our crop protection portfolio, but we must continue to improve. Based on the data collected between 2018-2022, we have reduced the treated-area-weighted environmental impact per hectare of our global crop protection portfolio by 12% against the 2014-2018 baseline. This reduction was mainly the result of changes in our crop protection product portfolio in recent years. We have also started reporting quantitatively against our commitment in our 2023 Sustainability Report.

A water droplet sits on top of a blade of grass.

While crop protection has obvious benefits for our food supply, we also know that crop protection products impact the environment beyond the field. We continuously seek to develop and offer products that have the same or better benefits for farmers, while having less impact on the environment. 


Through extensive testing and risk assessments, we ensure products have no effects on human health and only acceptable environmental effects if applied according to label.
Our safety standards reflect the guidelines and standards of international organizations such as the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), World Health Organization (WHO) and Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), as well as those of local regulatory authorities around the world. 


As the global population grows along with society’s concerns about the usage of chemical crop protection, so does our need to produce more products – which means we must ensure that the environmental impact of our crop protection does the opposite. We are proud to be currently the only company within our industry to make such a measurable commitment across the entire crop protection portfolio with publicly available scientific models.

We’re using the two leading externally developed scientific models—and we’re making how we use them public.


For the first time in the agriculture industry, we are using externally developed consensus models to evaluate the potential global environmental impact of our crop protection portfolio.

  • PestLCI has been developed and established by the Technical University of Denmark (DTU) in cooperation with other institutes and organizations since 2006. PestLCI estimates the quantity of an active ingredient emitted into the surrounding environment with the application of a crop protection product in the field, taking into account all contributing processes.
  • USEtox® has been developed under the auspices of UNEP-SETAC in cooperation with various universities and institutions since 2008. USEtox® determines concentrations in the surrounding environment and the potential impact the crop protection products could have on the aquatic ecosystems (defined as the potential effect on nontarget aquatic organisms). USEtox® is also recommended by the European Commission as a model for the analysis of products’ life cycles and environmental footprint. 


As the science of impact assessment is evolving, we are working with the scientific consortium developing these models as well as with other experts in the field to expand the capabilities of the current models. Currently, we are focusing on the potential impact on aquatic ecosystems, and we plan to expand the model to soil organisms and pollinators once these enhancements have been published by the scientific consortium. These models and the underlying methodology are publicly available. 

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