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- Sustainable Agriculture in practice: Bayer Forward Farms
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Agriculture and biodiversity are inextricably intertwined. Healthy crops depend on resilient ecosystems comprised of soil organisms, beneficial insects like pollinators, habitats for wild flora, and animals that live in and around the crops—and even the genetic diversity of the crops themselves. At the same time, ensuring a safe and secure food supply involves changing how the natural environment and resources are used—and this has an impact on biodiversity.
Biodiversity loss has increased alarmingly in the past several decades. In agriculture, land use change, including the loss, degradation and fragmentation of habitats; deforestation; invasive alien species; and lack of knowledge and awareness are key threats to biodiversity. According to the latest IPBES report on biodiversity and ecosystem services, more than one million species of plants and animals face extinction, driven by human activity.
As part of Bayer’s vision, “Health for all, hunger for none,” protecting biodiversity is core to our mission and the path forward for agriculture. We aim to achieve a biodiversity positive future for agriculture through modern and innovative tools and practices, as well as suitable value capture mechanisms to minimize the inherent impact food, fiber and fuel production has on biodiversity. This involves redesigning the way we grow certain crops, including leveraging the genetic diversity of crops to widen crop rotations and increase their resilience. Another way we do this is by taking into consideration biodiversity conservation and restoration measures at the farm level, including protecting and restoring habitats and forests. We believe that sustainable innovations and business models will empower growers to gain value by making a positive contribution to biodiversity and soil health while they increase the resiliencies of their farms at the same time. This is why we are committed to working with growers to develop and implement solutions that help their operations thrive together with biodiverse ecosystems.
Shaping a biodiversity positive future for agriculture
We have the opportunity, capability and responsibility to ensure that healthy, biodiverse ecosystems and productive fields can coexist. While there is no “one size fits all” solution, we are investing in the development of innovative tools and services that minimize the footprint of farming on the field and its impacts off the field, while protecting and restoring land to provide vibrant ecosystems for plants and animals to flourish. By innovating and collaborating with growers and other stakeholders—public and private—we are:
Developing innovative, sustainable solutions that reduce the environmental impact of agriculture, including:
- Enabling growers to produce more on the same amount of land with fewer inputs, reducing their need to expand into natural habitats
- Working with growers on existing farmland to further implement integrated crop management tools—from seeds adapted to the specific soil and climate conditions to smart integrated crop protection solutions covering diagnostics, monitoring and decision support — that help farmers manage damaging pests with less impact on surrounding ecosystems and wildlife.
Reducing agriculture’s impact on climate change by:
- Committing to reduce field greenhouse gas emissions in major cropping areas by 30%, acknowledging that climate change is a contributor to habitat degradation and biodiversity loss.
- Working with growers to improve their soil health and better prepare them for challenges brought about by climate change.
Encouraging biodiversity conservation and restoration by:
- Identifying biodiversity enhancing measures that also benefit crop production as well as new value capture mechanisms and business models that incentivize farmers to implement biodiversity-friendly practices.
- In 2021, we launched a research collaboration with the IFPRI and ETH Zurich to address how agriculture can reduce its impact on biodiversity—the first ever partnership with a global scale and focus on broad acre crops (e.g. wheat, corn, soy).
- Supporting growers to create natural or semi-natural habitats within and beyond their cropped fields to conserve associated biodiversity and endangered species.
Partnering with growers and other organizations to develop and share knowledge about biodiversity preservation best practices and solutions, including:
- Investing in research to better understand the root causes of insect and pollinator decline and developing adequate countermeasures. Read more about one of our many pollinator collaborations and find out more in our position paper on insect decline.
- Co-designing sustainable farming practices, stewardship activities and training programs such as Bayer ForwardFarming, BayG.A.P. for big farming operations and Better Life Farming for smallholders.
Biodiversity Preservation in Practice on the Azienda Agricola Moranda ForwardFarm
In Valpolicella, Italy, the Capurso family produces wine varieties such as Valpolicella, Valpolicella Superiore, and Amarone, also known as “The Great Bitter” because of the partially dried grapes that help give the wine its full body and rich flavor. The Capurso’s strive to uphold the renowned legacy of the Veneto region wines by implementing modern farming techniques and respecting their surroundings. At the vineyard, integrated crop management is a key pillar to produce high-quality wine grapes. Real-time information on changes in weather and soil moisture enables optimal irrigation and correct crop protection use. Smart digital traps provide real-time data on the population and dynamics of insect pests harmful to the vines and enable intervention only when needed. Biodiversity is promoted by habitat enhancement measures such as flowering strips and bird nesting boxes. The presence of bees is encouraged by fostering food availability and living space. Regular biodiversity monitoring takes place through the biodiversity Friend® certification by the World Biodiversity Association.
Actions to Date
- HabiTally: A Habitat-Tallying App to Support Monarch Conservation - (Climate Corporation, 2020)
- Enhancing Biodiversity & Resilience in Agriculture