Rodrigo Santos

Regenerative Agriculture is the Future

CoverCress Field

...If All Climate-Smart Practices are Brought Into the Mix

Increasing food production and reversing global warming were once considered incompatible, but we now have solutions to do both. It’s time to make them available to more farms around the world.

There’s never been a more important time for action on climate change in the agricultural sector. Indeed, there are few areas where the stakes are higher than in agriculture, which is responsible for about a quarter of global greenhouse gas emissions. With an estimated one billion more people living on our planet by mid-century, improving agriculture’s climate footprint is going to depend largely on regenerative agriculture – an approach that can improve soil health and mitigate climate change while at the same time increasing food production.


It's about regenerative farming systems

Regenerative agriculture is the way of the future, but only if we scale it up to reach more farms and have impact in the fight against global warming. In practice, this means establishing farming operations – entire systems – that combine different types of in-field solutions to boost yields and incomes for farmers while also benefiting the environment.

Such systems may seem a long way off, but their adoption is already happening in different parts of the world. And they are gaining traction as farmers look for ways to adapt to more extreme weather and climate conditions.

For example, a new rice cropping system that takes 40% less water and reduces greenhouse gas emissions by up to 45% is on its way to reaching 10,000 hectares in India this year – with a target of 1 million hectares by 2030. In the Americas, a growing number of farmers are working toward profitable carbon farming programs that incentivize keeping carbon in the soil and out of the atmosphere.

What makes systems like these so powerful is that they do not involve what was once considered a necessary tradeoff between agricultural productivity and sustainability. Instead, they reinforce both.  By tailoring solutions to the specific conditions of each farm, regenerative systems help farmers adapt and produce more yield while at the same time preserving and restoring key aspects of the natural world – whether that’s by carbon sequestration, water conservation or rebuilding natural habitats.

Driving innovation together, one farm at a time

This is a truly transformative approach to farming and a radical departure from the past. It is only made possible thanks to the latest scientific advances in plant breeding, crop protection and digital solutions.

We can already see the benefits of such innovations in the rice cropping systems of India and the carbon farming practices used by farmers in the U.S. Midwest. Now, we have a unique opportunity to make them available to many more farms around the world and deliver regenerative outcomes on a wide scale. That is the only way we can successfully produce enough food for more people and meet our global climate goals at the same time. 

As we face a challenge of such magnitude, we will need all hands on deck – farmers big and small, agricultural suppliers, food companies and retailers. And we have to use every tool at our disposal. That means organic farming and conventional farming and carbon farming. It means new seeds and traits, digital tools, biological solutions and modern chemistry. 


Listening to farmers’ voices

But don’t take my word for it; listen to farmers themselves. Last year, Bayer surveyed hundreds of farmers in eight countries in our first ever Farmer Voice Survey. They told us climate change is already having a negative impact on most farms, and growers expect climate change to cause more crop failure in the near future. 

Regenerative practices promise to help slow the damage, and growers are open to new techniques to help even more. But they need access to new technologies, better incentives that reflect the outsized importance of agriculture, and most of all, growers need their voices to be heard as global decisions are made about the future of farming. 

The good news? We have a host of available technologies that contribute to regenerative agriculture systems and we’re developing even more.  We know these systems work to raise food production and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.  We are growing commercial programs to help farmers measure and benefit from their progress – and we’re working with partners to scale them up so more farmers around the world can participate in regenerative solutions. 

The time is now to work together to create regenerative agriculture frameworks that move us toward our climate goals sustainably and profitably – not just for 2024, but for generations to come. 

Rodrigo Santos
Rodrigo Santos
Head of the Crop Science Division
4 min read