Advancing sustainability and efficiency: Are you prepared for the future of agriculture?
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How can we ensure access to a sufficient supply of healthy, diverse, and safe food for a growing global population – while limiting the impact on the environment and coping with climate change? This is one of the key challenges of this century. And innovation in global agriculture is a central part of the solution.
Despite short-term market shocks from COVID-19, the ag input market is expected to grow on average 3% annually over the next decade, driven by megatrends in population growth, demand for protein and pressures on harvests from climate change. Worldwide demand for food, feed and fuel will continue to rise – and evolve – significantly over the coming decades. This is driven by overall population growth and the rapid expansion of a global middle class: Reaching almost 5 billion people by 2030, the share of the global middle class will have almost quintupled over the past three decades.1 With an overall larger population as well as rising living standards and changing attitudes towards nutrition, transparency and sustainability, food consumption patterns are becoming more diverse and demanding.2,3
Securing a sufficient supply of quality food is just one side of the coin—agriculture needs to meet these growing demands by using natural resources more efficiently and responsibly.
Rising pressure on ecosystems, such as climate change and soil erosion, already impacts farming today: We are losing 12 million ha of agricultural land and approximately 1/3 (or 1.3bn tons) of the globally produced food annually.8,9 Offering sustainable solutions in agriculture will thus be key in addressing environmental challenges and in unlocking unseized market potential.
The impact of climate change has led to a vicious combination of resource scarcity, harvest loss and soil degradation. Without intervention, this is how 2050 is expected to look:5,6,10,11
How do we tackle these unprecedented challenges? The global agriculture industry must advance sustainability and economic efficiency through relentless innovation.
The crop science industry is a global growth market which consists of numerous dynamics, innovative technologies and approaches ranging from chemistry, biology, biotechnology, and data science platforms to new business models, such as vertical or carbon farming. Adding new technologies to provide integrated and tailored solutions for farmers as well as driving digitalization and sustainability will be at the core of transforming the industry. For instance, successfully implementing smart farming alone, by ensuring widespread connectivity within and across farms, could unlock billions of additional value.12 Technologies like drone farming have the potential to boost yields by enabling farmers to monitor crops frequently and intervene remotely.12
A range of innovations from the genetic level to the operation of entire farms has the potential to significantly reduce the environmental footprint of global agriculture. This includes reducing carbon emissions or even removing CO2 from the atmosphere or protecting biodiversity via digitally enhanced and sustainable farming practices. In this context, new gene editing technologies such as CrispR/CAS9, are valuable additions to the wider toolbox and could potentially improve a crop’s resistance to weather extremes and diseases significantly – all while increasing resource efficiency.
One of the most potentially radical changes ahead of us in global agricultural technology is gene editing and in particular the so-called "CRISPR" technology.
UBS, Chemicals Sector Outlook 2020
This is the big picture of global agriculture: A sizeable number of critical challenges that must be solved. But these challenges have opened-up an entire world of new opportunities – for those who are at the forefront of innovation.
As a leading life science company, Bayer is aligned with the long-term market trends in health and nutrition and offers innovative and sustainable solutions to tackle some of the key challenges for humanity. In global agriculture, Bayer holds a leading position across technologies, enabled by a broad digital platform, to transform the industry and support feeding a growing population in a sustainable manner.
Innovation is key to tackling agriculture’s challenges. By relentlessly driving breakthrough innovation in seeds, crop protection, digital tools, and agriculture practices, Bayer is advancing sustainability and efficiency across the entire agriculture value chain. This winning combination enables us to scale expertise and provide farmers with access to arguably the best tools in agriculture.
Did you know that Bayer operates a leading innovation platform in the global agriculture industry?
With an annual investment of 2 billion Euro, Bayer is operating one of the largest R&D budgets in agriculture. And our position at the forefront of agricultural innovation extends beyond budget. Bayer is combining world-class chemistry, biology, biotechnology & data science platforms into smart, digitally enabled solutions to be the partner of choice for farmers worldwide. Besides commercial potential, we explicitly consider how projects in our R&D pipeline advance the sustainability footprint of global agriculture – this is a key requirement for Bayer. With its unique assets, capabilities and in-depth expertise across technologies, Bayer is well positioned to deliver long-term value for its customers and society.
Short Stature Corn is one of our most recent innovations and a perfect example of Bayer’s maxim “innovation is the new sustainability.”
With more than 1.1bn metric tons (~2.4bn pounds) produced per year on 200m hectares (~490m acres), corn is the second-most grown crop in the world.13 Hence, innovation for corn alone can have a material impact on agricultural sustainability, efficiency, and food security.
Bayer is driving innovation with Short Stature Corn, a hybrid crop which grows shorter and sturdier than traditional corn. We are currently pursuing three different development approaches for Short Stature Corn by leveraging the latest technologies in traditional breeding, biotechnology, and gene editing.
Short Stature Corn, I believe, is going to be revolutionary.
Bob Reiter, Head of Research and Development, Crop Science
Short Stature Corn is expected to be an industry first, with the potential to offer a transformative shift in how corn is produced. This technology illustrates how Bayer does not shy away from rethinking established ideas in agriculture, such as the conventional wisdom that taller plants are better. In corn, short may be the next big thing – offering novel ways to produce more with less.
The Benefits of Short Stature Corn
Furthermore, we envision a full-system recommendation with Short Stature Corn, which allows for easy integration with other Bayer technologies such as Climate FieldView™, our leading digital farming platform.
With a global commercial opportunity for use on more than 220m corn acres, this potentially game-changing innovation illustrates how Bayer is developing sustainable and innovative solutions for the benefit of farmers, society, and the planet.
Did you know that Bayer is a world leader in digital farming solutions?
Agriculture is one of many industries undergoing a digital transformation to realize new levels of efficiency, effectiveness, and sustainability. From healthcare to horticulture, data-driven digital tools are advancing industry best practices.
At Bayer, through The Climate Corporation, we aim to help the world’s farmers sustainably increase their productivity with the use of digital tools. We combine a deep understanding of agriculture with top tech talent to push farming forward – using a growing set of millions of data points to deliver deep insights that inform on-farm decisions.
Our flagship product, Climate FieldView™, delivers seamless data collection, visualization, and analysis to help farmers optimize their operations, manage risk, address variability to increase harvests, and improve profitability. This scalable, industry-leading platform is already being used on more than 150m subscribed acres and its adoption continues to grow around the world. Digital farming can help our industry grow nutritious food while maximizing the benefits of agricultural inputs and ultimately using resources more efficiently.
The really neat thing about digital agriculture is that it is scalable: You can create value for farmers that farm 10,000 acres, or farmers that farm 2 hectares, smallholder farmers.
Mike Stern, Head of The Climate Corporation and Digital Farming, Crop Science
FieldView™ has a market opportunity on more than one billion global acres for corn, soybean, and wheat. As the number one digital farming platform and brand, Climate has already established agreements with more than 70 companies across North America, South America and Europe to use and integrate FieldView™. Further establishment of FieldView’s™ global footprint is expected to be driven by dozens of next-generation projects in the development pipeline.
Another key benefit of Climate: Its platform architecture enables new digital business models – and thus, future value pools. A good example of this would be tailored solutions with the potential to partner on outcomes with growers and carbon farming, where we have the opportunity to translate knowledge of on-farm practices into carbon credits.
Did you know that Bayer is a front-runner in developing sustainable business models for farmers?
Bayer has set ambitious sustainability targets, including carbon neutrality by 2030. Agriculture is a large contributor to worldwide greenhouse gas emissions, but the 570 million farms around the world also represent millions of highly effective partners in fighting climate change. To effectively leverage this huge potential, Bayer has started a number of initiatives in the Americas and Europe, helping growers to gain value from adopting climate-smart practices.
CO2 concentration in the atmosphere is one of the main challenges we have in society. Agriculture can be a part of the solution. Agriculture has millions and millions of acres that we can tap into to become carbon storage sinks. That helps farmers, and it also helps society.
Leonardo Bastos, Post-doctoral researcher in Crop Production Remote Sensing
In the U.S. and Brazil, the Bayer Carbon Initiative is incentivizing farmers who adopt practices that help sequester carbon with the goal of enabling a robust carbon credit market for agriculture. In the EU, Bayer recently launched a Lighthouse Project with several partners aimed at decarbonizing the food system with farmers at its core and based around an emerging carbon accounting framework.
The common thread is making sure we embed sustainability goals into our business so that we are focused on how to develop new innovations and ways of working that bring value to farmers for improving their sustainability.
Bayer expects to be one of the first agriculture companies to launch a transparent, science-based, and collaborative approach in a carbon trading platform. Eventually, farmers’ use of climate-smart practices should generate carbon credits for exchange on a carbon market. With this kind of “carbon farming“, Bayer is further promoting sustainable agriculture while potentially generating additional income streams for farmers worldwide.
1 Brookings Institution (2017), The unprecedented expansion of the global middle class
2 World Business Council for Sustainable Development (2018), FReSH insight report Consumption behavior and trends
3 Boston Consulting Group (2018), It’s Time to Plant the Seeds of Sustainable Growth in Agriculture
4 FAO (2018), The future of food and agriculture Alternative pathways to 2050
5 McKinsey (2015), Global agriculture’s many opportunities
6 Roland Berger (2019), Farming 4.0: How precision agriculture might save the world
7 Global Economy and Development at Brookings (2017), The unprecedented expansion of the global middle class
8 FAO (2018), The future of food and agriculture: Trends and challenges
9 United Nations (2019), Every Year, 12 Million Hectares of Productive Land Lost, Secretary-General Tells Desertification Forum, Calls for Scaled-up Restoration Efforts, Smart Policies
10 FAO (2018), The future of food and agriculture: Alternative pathways to 2050
11 United Nations (2018), Water Scarcity
12 McKinsey (2020), Agriculture’s connected future: How technology can yield new growth
13 FAO (2020), Crop statistics
This content may contain forward-looking statements based on current assumptions and forecasts made by Bayer management. Various known and unknown risks, uncertainties and other factors could lead to material differences between the actual future results, financial situation, development or performance of the company and the estimates given here. These factors include those discussed in Bayer’s public reports, which are available on the Bayer website at www.bayer.com. The company assumes no liability whatsoever to update these forward-looking statements or to conform them to future events or developments.