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Human activities produce greenhouse gas emissions such as carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide are the leading cause of climate change, and agriculture accounts for nearly a quarter of these global emissions (including land use change).
We have the capability – and responsibility – to develop climate-smart solutions and trigger farmers’ adoption by creating innovative business models that benefit farmers, tackle climate change, and drive towards a carbon zero future for agriculture. Carbon zero refers to a state in which no carbon dioxide or other greenhouse gases are released into the atmosphere, minimizing the impact of human activities on climate change.
To tackle such an ambitious goal, we’re focusing our efforts where we can make the biggest impact, working collaboratively with growers and partners across the value chain to reduce the GHG emissions of crops grown in the field and even help farmers sequester CO2 and generate revenue from the practice, all while also reducing emissions in our own operations.
Deforestation and land-use change are some of the biggest drivers of greenhouse gas emissions. By bringing innovations like more productive crops to the market, we can help growers produce more food on the same amount of land, with less impact on the environment—known as sustainable intensification. This can lead to reduced use of natural resources, crop protection products, and fertilizer, while at the same time enhancing biodiversity and allowing more arable land to be reforested.
Our efforts are not just focused on greenhouse gas reduction, but also removal. Growers are already taking steps towards reducing their emissions by using cutting-edge tools and farming practices to capture greenhouse gases from the atmosphere to the soil.
The right levers to reduce greenhouse gas emissions
With our partners, we’re promoting tools and strategies that help growers increase their resilience to extreme weather brought about by climate change and reduce their own GHG emissions, all while growing healthy and sustainable crops. Of course, there is no one-size-fits-all in agriculture, and when it comes to reducing emissions and ensuring healthy harvests and increased yields, growers need a diverse toolbox to deploy what's best for their fields and conditions. To achieve our carbon zero commitment, we will focus on:
Ensuring better soil management with tools and practices such as:
- No-till farming: by not tilling the soil, soil health improves, allowing it to better store carbon, nutrients, and water; and by not disturbing the soil, the carbon captured remains in the ground
- Crop protection: crop protection technologies, including biologics, are important to preserving and enhancing yield potential of crops and help the implementation of climate-smart practices such as no-till farming or cover crops
- Breeding technology: innovative crop genetics require less inputs like fertilizer and crop protection agents and allow growers to pursue no- and low-till farming
Enabling precision application of inputs including:
- Digital tools: data-driven tools ensure proper seed placement and that the right amount of fertilizers and crop protection is applied in the right place at the right time, preventing over-fertilization while also requiring fewer tractor passes in the field
- Water use: precision irrigation systems improve energy use and reduce the amount of water used on crops
Equipping and rewarding growers to capture carbon from the atmosphere with solutions such as
- Cover crops: selected crops planted off season in fields maximizes the amount of carbon that stays in the soil, preventing it from being released into the atmosphere while also enriching with nutrients potentially reducing the need for fertilizer
- Dry seeding of rice: a technique that reduces methane emissions from flooded rice paddies
Bayer Carbon Initiative: already launched in the U.S. and Brazil, this innovative, science-based and collaborative pilot program helps growers generate revenue for adopting specific climate-smart practices--such as no-till farming and the use of cover crops
In addition, we'll be exploring the impact of these levers on a variety of key cropping systems to better understand the effects they have on GHG emissions while also looking for opportunities to integrate sustainability into our R&D pipeline.
Measuring and communicating progress on our journey to 30% by 2030
We have developed robust indicators and targets that build upon internationally recognized life cycle assessment methodologies. Specific to GHG emissions, we are measuring the impact and adoption rate of our solutions by tracking them against the current 5-year average of market practices for the main crops in Bayer’s key regions. In addition, all of our data is being reviewed and verified by an independent third party. As we move forward, we will transparently track all of our progress here for all to see.