Bayer Marana’s commitment to sustainability through composting 

A man with a face mask working on a conveyor belt.

Many people know about the basics of the farming process — planting, growing, harvesting, repeat. But what happens to the plants after the crop is harvested?  


Sometimes, the unused plant material is collected and moved into landfills with all the other trash. These centers for trash decompose, releasing methane and carbon dioxide, both of which contribute heavily to climate change.   


Compost in Arizona


At Bayer’s Marana greenhouse, instead of just throwing the corn stalks away after harvest, their team recycles 100 percent of unused material through compost. By doing this, the greenhouse immensely reduces its carbon footprint.  


"We’ve been composting pretty much from the first harvest around a year ago," Brett Sowers, an Operations Lead at the greenhouse, says. "I think it shows our commitment to sustainability and not just putting stuff into landfills."  


After the greenhouse corn is harvested, team members scan each tracker on the pots to mark the end of its journey. Then, the stalk and soil are removed and placed on a conveyor belt which carries all the material up and out of the greenhouse and into a dump truck. The material is then carried out to the outdoor farm area designated for composting.  


“Our composting started from the ground up,” Sowers says. “First, we experimented with smaller samples to get the proper nutrient balance. From there we scaled up as we began harvesting more crops.”    


Once the bacteria and fungi begin breaking down the organic materials, these microorganisms release nutrients extremely beneficial to the soil quality. The composting process also enables the soil to hold more water, a crucial aspect of farming in Arizona’s deserts. 


By composting, Bayer’s Marana team is not only looking out for the global environment by reducing carbon emissions, they are also looking out for their local community by growing healthy, natural soil.   



Using the newly made compost, the Marana site turned a plot of unfarmable land into a gardener’s oasis, growing a variety of plants like watermelon, zucchini, and garlic. Every few weeks a small team of volunteers harvest the fruits and vegetables for the rest of the team to bring home. 


“Composting at a commercial level has some challenges, but we are quickly learning how to make it work,” Sowers says. “As we continue, we will be constantly looking at how we can improve our system and use composting effectively.”