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In the last few decades, the impact of crop protection on the environment has decreased while yields have steadily increased. We help growers produce more with less. However, with innovative inputs, new ways to farm and more precise application we have the opportunity — and responsibility — to continue reducing this impact.
At Bayer we have seen the impact that innovation can bring. Despite our market leadership, Bayer’s environmental impact of crop protection is already exceptionally low and we will reduce it further.
There is no single solution for reducing the environmental impact of crop protection — everything has tradeoffs, and each grower’s operations must be considered in a holistic manner. We seek to better understand the specific challenges growers face, the measures they are taking to protect their crops and the impact these solutions have on the surrounding environment.
Equipped with this knowledge, we can recommend a range of tools to help growers protect their crops and lessen their environmental impact, so they can produce higher-yielding crops with less impact in and around the field. And with an emphasis on innovation and sustainability, we will continue to expand growers’ choice of crop protection tools.
A data-driven approach to reducing environmental impact
There is no one-size-fits-all solution in agriculture, and what works for one grower may not work for another. We will partner with growers in the countries and crops where we can have the greatest impact to optimize their entire integrated crop management approach. With our ever-expanding set of tools driven by our innovation pipeline, we partner with growers to select crop protection solutions tailored to their farms that both add value and reduce the environmental impact of their operations. To achieve our commitment, we are:
Optimizing pesticide volumes required per hectare through tools like:
Precision application: data-driven tools that ensure that the right amount of crop protection is applied in the right place and at the right time.
Seed treatment: seed-applied crop protection tools can dramatically reduce the volume of chemicals used and potential exposure to wildlife and the environment.
Seeds and traits: crops bred and designed to better fight the pests and diseases that attack them, ensuring that less chemical crop protection is needed.
Discovering new and better crop protection solutions that can significantly reduce environmental impact such as:
New chemistry: new modes of action with better environmental profiles that deliver the same level of efficacy while reducing potential environmental risk and exposure. We can now screen new substances at the early stages of the pipeline for their environmental impact and include this assessment in pipeline advancement decisions.
Biologics: We offer a number of products derived from microbes or based on natural defense mechanisms of organisms that complement and enhance integrated management practices and reduce pest resistance.
Reformulating existing and new crop protection tools to mitigate environmental risk and reduce the volume (alternative: amounts of active ingredients needed; instead of “volume of pesticides”) of pesticides such as:
Improved formulations: crop protection formulas that reduce off-target movement or increase the adherence of a product to the leaves (e.g. rainfastness) help keep the active ingredient where it is supposed to be and limits exposure off-field to the environment.
Recommending best practices to growers that can improve their sustainability and reduce their environmental impact including:
Stewardship measures: good agricultural practices such as buffer strips, tillage practices, cover crops or drift and run-off reducing measures that aim to keep crop protection where it is intended: on the field. See this in practice on the Bayer ForwardFarming network.
Integrated Pest Management: a holistic and systemic approach to pest management on a seasonal or multi-year timescale.
Measuring our Impact
The commitment to reduce the environmental impact of crop protection is a promise we’re making, simply yet ambitiously, to everyone. Measuring it is just as ambitious and not nearly as simple. But this is how we’ll all know that we’re keeping that promise and making progress.
By using state of the art Environmental Impact Reduction (EIR) methodology we add the dimension of a robust science-based tool to help compare the relative environmental impacts of different tools on a farm. Moreover, it enables us to choose and develop products that have less impact while maintaining grower benefits.
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. Developed by a consortium led by the Technical University of Denmark (DTU) and endorsed by the UNEP/SETAC Life Cycle Initiative, PestLCI 2.0 and USEtox are the most advanced life-cycle assessment models that can be used to characterize potential environmental impact across different countries and different crops. These models work together to give us a clear idea of our impact. Here’s how:
PestLCI 2.0 models how much of an active ingredient reaches the air, soil or water.
USEtox then determines how much of this active ingredient is available over time and the potential impact it could have on the ecosystem.
As the science of impact assessment evolves, we’ll work with the DTU and other experts in the field to expand the capabilities of the current models. And because these models are public, we’re able to invite the entire scientific community to check our progress and verify where we stand on our commitments.
We’re looking to independent third-parties to verify our work.
Any credible science is peer-reviewed and vetted—and working to reduce crop protection’s environmental impact is no different. In fact, with an issue that’s so important to us all, it should be possible for anyone to measure the progress. Bayer is constantly working towards its commitment to help farmers all over the world reduce the environmental impact of crop protection. That’s why...
The Technical University of Denmark will independently assess environmental impact.
External auditors will review all results and progress.
Third parties are welcomed to independently perform verification of their own, using these publicly-available models.
Our progress and all of the annual results and data will be publicly available on our website.