Stories

Protecting Crops: Why it Matters

Farmers today need a variety of crop-protection tools to manage weeds and pests, and the digital innovation to empower them to use inputs more precisely than ever before. 

 

Growing vegetables in your garden seems simple enough, right? Sprinkle a few seeds into rich soil, add sun and water and, more often than not, you’ve got vegetables. 


As every farmer knows, growing hundreds or thousands of acres of the crops that feed, clothe and fuel humanity involves more than sun, water and high hopes. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the U.N. says, in fact, that 40% of the food crops globally are lost to plant pests and diseases every year


That’s a difficult statistic to accept when you consider the U.N. expects 2 billion additional mouths to feed on the planet by 2050.

 
This is why Bayer works to provide farmers in America and around the world with the tools they need to confront this existential challenge—tools that include biological and chemical products and, importantly, the digital innovation that enables farmers to use these inputs with more precision than ever before.


But using these tools to exact specifications is only the beginning of weed management for farmers. Using a variety of tools in different ways is critical, too, as plants and pests can develop resistance over time, and some have. Farmers call this approach ‘integrated weed management,’ or, IWM, and it’s the hallmark of everything we do to protect their crops at Bayer.


What We’re Doing with Farmers


This is nothing new to Bayer. We have championed IWM for generations within the agriculture industry. We invest over $2 billion in research and development for farming solutions every year—nearly double the spend of our closest competitors. We recently announced over $5 billion of that investment will go to further IWM in agriculture over the next decade. 


What does this mean? Developing digital tools that help farmers do more with less; discovering new chemistries and biologics that target only the threat, not our natural resources; ensuring we keep pace with farmers so the range of sustainable and effective tools at their disposal grows instead of shrinks—empowering them to manage the threat of future resistance.

In 2020, we announced our discovery of the first completely new kind of herbicide for broadacre crops the world has seen in 30 years. We’re particularly proud of this milestone; for every active substance that is registered for use, about 160,000 potential candidates do not make it past the research stage at Bayer.


It’s About Us, Too


There’s no doubt that farmers, more than anyone else, are on the front lines of the battle to feed, clothe and fuel this growing world while caring for our precious natural resources. It is our priority and privilege at Bayer to walk alongside them in addressing this enormous challenge and provide them the tools they need to meet it.


We at Bayer also have a role to play in stewarding the use of these tools around the world. 


This is why Bayer is engaged in bringing to life a pledge we made more than a year ago: to raise the bar on our crop protection safety standards around the world. This includes a transparency initiative that features online access to summaries of the health and human-safety studies of many of our crop protection products. It includes the formation of an independent Sustainability Council, comprised of independent experts, to advise Bayer’s highest governing body on integrating sustainability milestones into our business strategy, and much more.


Why do we do it? Because farmers need a range of effective and sustainable tools to do their jobs. And helping farmers do their jobs well is in everyone’s best interest. It’s the only way the world will achieve Bayer’s vision of health for all, and hunger for none. 

 

 

Learn more about our global IWM efforts. 

 

By: Graham Head, Ph.D.

Global Head of Resistance Management, Bayer