Regenerative Agriculture

Restoring Nature: Our Sustainability Commitments

Rice Harvest

In recent years, a growing number of companies in the food and agriculture industry have made public commitments to limit or even reverse the damaging impact of agriculture on our climate and our planet’s ecosystems.

But it's clear that a transformation of such magnitude can only be achieved when all key players across the food system collaborate to meet the same goal. For Bayer, this means working together with farmers and value chain partners to adopt regenerative farming practices and promote sustainable production.

What's clear is that this endeavor can only work when individual corporate sustainability commitments align with those of all partners. And so the question remains: What do all these commitments boil down to? What are companies like Bayer doing to fulfill their pledges, in our case, our vision to restore nature? Can we scale our solutions beyond the company’s walls? And how are making it easier – and more profitable – for farmers and value chains to deliver the large-scale regenerative solutions consumers ultimately demand?

To find the answers, a good place to start is Bayer’s Sustainability Report, where we track our progress toward Bayer’s four agricultural sustainability commitments: reduce on-field greenhouse gas emissions; limit the environmental impact of our crop protection products; enable smallholder farmers and reduce water use.

So how are we doing? Let’s dig in.

Greenhouse Gas Emissions

Carbon Sequestration

Bayer’s Goal: Enable our farming customers to reduce their on-field greenhouse gas emissions per mass unit of crop produced in our major markets by 30%.

Why it matters:

Although agriculture is a contributor to climate change, the industry also plays an increasingly important role in curbing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions that contribute to climate change, such as carbon dioxide, methane and nitrogen oxide. Cutting-edge tools and farming practices are helping farmers significantly reduce the amount of greenhouse gas their operations emit, while also removing carbon from the atmosphere. This is the basis of Bayer’s business model, which helps growers adopt regenerative practices, create new revenue streams, and ultimately help companies across the agriculture supply chain reduce their carbon footprints.

Progress so far: After almost four years since the launch of the Bayer Carbon Initiative, we are making significant strides in advancing the adoption of regenerative agriculture practices and reducing greenhouse gas emissions across our most important countries and crops. And thanks to our science, data and technology, it's possible to scale regenerative practices throughout the food value chain, from farms to food companies and ultimately to consumers. This is playing out differently in each global region.

In North America, in addition to ForGround, Bayer’s digital platform that supports growers in regenerative agriculture practices with already millions of acres connected, partnerships have also been forged with companies like Perdue Agribusiness and Mars Petcare to help meet their carbon emissions reduction goals.

In Latin America, we’re helping growers improve carbon sequestration and soil fertility to improve yield, and farmers who implement regenerative practices have access to exclusive benefits like credit discounts or early access on the purchase of farm inputs. Through a new commodities program, in May 2023, Bayer delivered the first load of Brazilian soybeans with a traceable, deforestation-free carbon footprint.

In Asia, Bayer is a key partner in the Good Rice Alliance, an initiative operating today on 45,000 hectares across 11 states in India. The Alliance empowers rice farmers to adopt climate-smart practices, moving away from growing rice in flooded fields. Farmers are provided with training and support to adopt cultivation methods that use less water and create fewer methane emissions. The Alliance also ensures a robust Measurement Reporting Verification (MRV) system and is under Gold Standard validation, which enables farmers to make additional revenue from the generation of reliable and verifiable carbon credits. By 2030, The Good Rice Alliance plans to reach 1 million hectares across 15 states, reducing emissions by ~3.5 million tons of CO2 per year, setting a benchmark for similar efforts in the rice decarbonization space.

In Europe, Bayer is delivering multiple tailored projects with large companies from the food supply and agricultural value chains in several European countries, where growers using regenerative agriculture practices are emitting on average 15 percent less carbon than conventional farmers. 

Learn more here: 

Reducing the Environmental Impact of Crop Protection

Bayer’s Goal: Reduce the environmental impact of our global crop protection portfolio per hectare by 30%.

Why it matters: Bayer consistently seeks to develop and offer crop protection products that have the same or better benefits for farmers, while having fewer impacts on the environment. We adopted a methodology for crop protection environmental impact reduction and made a commitment to reducing the environmental impact of our crop protection products.

Progress so far: Based on the data collected between 2018–2022, Bayer has reduced the treated-area-weighted environmental impact per hectare of our global crop protection portfolio by 12% against the 2014–2018 baseline. The reduction was mainly the result of changes in our crop protection product portfolio in recent years.

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Smallholder Farmers

Bayer’s Goal: Support 100 million smallholder farmers in low and middle-income countries by improving their access to agricultural products, services and partnerships.

Why it matters: Smallholder farmers, many of them owning under 10 hectares (about 25 acres), feed more than half of the population in low- and middle-income regions, so empowering these farmers is crucial for food security. Together with our partners, we strive to unlock the potential of individual smallholders whose success ultimately contributes to the success of communities. Sustainably increased smallholder incomes will in turn benefit the inclusive development of low- and middle-income countries.

Progress so far: Bayer supported 53 million smallholder farmers in low- to middle-income countries in 2023, including 40 million in the Asia-Pacific region, 10 million in Africa and the Middle East, and 3 million in Latin America. As the world’s leading agriculture company, we will support a total of 100 million smallholder farmers in these regions by 2030 by improving access to agricultural products, services, and partnerships. We are expanding our offerings for smallholder farmers, including innovative business models and digital solutions. With market models that reduce business risks for all partners in the value chain, we aim to help smallholders increase productivity and income while increasing food security of smallholder farmers, their families, and rural regions in low- and middle-income countries.

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Water Conservation

Rice Harvest

Goal: Improve water use per kilogram of crop by 25% by transforming rice-cropping systems for our smallholder customers in the relevant regions where we operate, all by the end of this decade.

Why it matters: Rice is one of the most important staple foods in the world, with half the world population relying on it as their main source of daily nutrition. But the cultivation of rice crops is responsible for up to 43% of the total water used for irrigation, and the flooded fields create perfect conditions for methane creating bacteria, responsible for 12% of the world’s methane emissions. One of the most promising solutions is direct-seeded rice (DSR), which allows farmers to plant seeds directly in the soil and removes the need for flooded rice paddies. This cultivation method can help farmers reduce water use by up to 40% and greenhouse gas emissions by up to 45%. Bayer’s DirectAcres is a program designed to help farmers as they transition from transplanted puddled rice to direct-seeded rice with maximum convenience and minimum risk.

Progress so far: In 2023, we successfully brought DSR to 5,000 farmers across 8,600 hectares in India through the DirectAcres program, (up from 800 hectares in 2022).  A satisfaction survey shows 95% of interviewed rice farmers were satisfied with the new cultivation practice and 67% of farmers reported a superior return on investment when compared to using the traditional transplanted cultivation methods. In 2024, we plan to expand the program to cover 25,000 hectares with the goal to reach 1 million hectares in India by 2030. This year (2024) we have also started to introduce the program in the Philippines before expanding to other rice-growing countries in Asia/Pacific.

Learn more:

What's Next?

We’ve made progress toward our sustainability goals, and there is still a lot of work to do. We’re building partnerships with companies like Microsoft,  Trinity Agtech and Viterra to support environmental traceability for companies looking to decarbonize their food, fuel and fiber value chains. In the area of sustainable crop protection, we’ve unveiled our breakthrough innovation approach to crop protection chemistry that we call “CropKey,” which uses the most recent advances in the life sciences and data to unlock entirely new and long-awaited crop protection candidates with exceptional safety and sustainability profiles – the first of which are expected to reach the market at the end of this decade. For smallholders, we are increasing the range of our initiatives tailored to their needs and continue to support the expansion of Better Life Farming to provide education, access to farming and finance solutions. And we are full speed ahead in the exciting transformation of rice cultivation to save water and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

In the second half of this decade, we plan to continue to make major gains toward restoring nature through delivering on our sustainability goals. We can’t wait to share the journey with farmers, partners and ultimately consumers as we work toward a better future together.

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