Advancing Agriculture to Address Climate Change
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- Empowering Smallholder Farmers
- Food System Resilience
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Combating Climate Change
Today, agriculture is responsible for nearly a quarter of all global greenhouse gas emissions - but farmers also have an incredible superpower to bring to the fight against those emissions.
By pioneering solutions that help decarbonize agriculture, farms around the world are making a massive positive impact in the fight against climate change.
While climate change affects us all, farmers are especially attuned to the impact of increasingly extreme weather conditions including drought, severe heat, flooding, or other shifting climatic trends. Together, these various challenges make it more difficult for farmers to cultivate their crops, ensure their livelihoods and support the global food system we all rely on. That’s why Bayer is devoted to decarbonizing agriculture by developing new solutions that help farmers withstand the impacts and address the causes of climate change.
By 2030, Bayer has committed to help our farming customers reduce their field greenhouse gas footprint by 30%.
From contributor to mitigator in agriculture's effects on climate change
Although agriculture is a contributor to climate change, the industry also plays an increasingly important role in curbing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions that contribute to climate change, such as carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrogen oxide.
Farmers are taking steps today to decarbonize agriculture and reduce the effects of climate change and create a more sustainable future. In particular, cutting-edge tools and farming practices are helping farmers significantly reduce the amount of greenhouse gas their operations emit, while also removing carbon from the atmosphere. In fact, this is the basis of Bayer’s Carbon Program—an innovative business model that rewards farmers for implementing climate-smart practices in their fields. By incentivizing farmers for adopting practices such as no-till or cover crops, this initiative is helping farmers across the US earn additional income while pulling carbon out of the atmosphere and storing it in the soil. And with pilot programs underway in Brazil and across Europe, the Bayer Carbon Program has the potential to help make a massive positive impact in addressing the challenges of climate change on farms around the world.
Bayer’s Carbon Program is one of many ways we’re driving innovations to address climate change from farms around the world. Explore some of the other existing and evolving approaches that are already making a positive impact:
Better weed-control solutions reduce the need for farmers to till their soil, thereby decreasing soil disruption and the amount of tractor passes over the field. In addition to curbing greenhouse gas emissions and fossil fuel use, this also improves the soil’s natural ability to store carbon, nutrients and water for improved crop performance.
Increasing efficiency in agriculture
By providing incredibly detailed information about what’s happening in the fields, digital tools and precision agriculture techniques are helping farmers streamline their workload, conserve resources and much more. For example, Bayer is pioneering new software platforms and monitoring tools that leverage farm data to recommend how a farmer can use fewer pesticides with greater effect, which in turn reduces greenhouse gas emissions and pesticide runoff into water. Similarly, precipitation alerts tell farmers when conditions may be too wet or windy to apply pesticides, helping to avoid costly treatments and unnecessary fossil fuel use. From above, satellites and drones provide real-time field health images that can help identify areas of crop stress or pest infestations so farmers can take corrective action quickly and efficiently. These and other tools are essential in growing enough food on less land, offering the potential to reduce the number of acres needed to feed a growing population.
Agriculture is also pioneering the use of microbes to enrich crops by helping plants harness and use nutrients and water more efficiently. Joyn Bio, a joint venture between Bayer and Ginkgo Bioworks, is working to create microbes that will help crops like corn, wheat and rice extract nitrogen from the air to use on their own. This would radically reduce the need for man-made fertilizer and be a powerful step towards a future with net-zero carbon emissions in agriculture.
The largest source of atmospheric carbon related to farming occurs when agricultural expansion leads to deforestation or draining of wetlands, which reduces the ability of the natural ecosystem to absorb and store carbon. By developing solutions that help farmers grow enough on less land, agriculture is working to preserve natural habitats—even finding ways to help farmers identify areas of their land that would add more value to their operation as a biodiversity sanctuary to support animals, pollinators and their surrounding environment.
Helping farmers manage changes in weather
Smallholder farmers are particularly dependent on climatic conditions to grow their crops. With an increasingly unpredictable climate, extreme weather conditions could threaten entire harvests. To help, Bayer is committed to finding innovative ways to empower smallholders with access to tools, insights, and resources to mitigate these effects so they can cultivate their crops in spite of unprecedented climatic challenges.
Rice is an important staple food for over 3.5 billion people, who rely on approximately 200 million smallholder farmers to grow it. Yet throughout the Mekong Delta in Vietnam, flooding has been a considerable challenge for smallholder farmers to cultivate their crops while meeting growing demand. If the rains are late, the sea can flood the rice paddies and salinize the soil. To help smallholders withstand and overcome these challenges, Bayer’s “Much More Rice” program offers a comprehensive solutions program featuring innovative technologies such as hybrid seed that can withstand up to 14 days of being submerged.
By 2030, rice yields will have to rise by 30 percent—from the same area of arable land—to guarantee food security.
Wheat farmers in the Midwestern United States require about 50 centimeters (almost 20 inches) of precipitation per year, but in some years, they only get half of that. With drought as a considerable factor, recent studies estimate that wheat harvests could decline by 6 percent with every degree of climate warming.
The demand for wheat will increase by approximately 60 percent by 2050.
While many farmers use reduced-tillage methods to maintain moisture in the soil, this can also create opportunities for invasive weeds to compete with wheat plants for light, nutrients and the very moisture farmers are working to conserve. At Bayer, we’re developing new and more effective crop protection solutions that are helping farmers manage their crops without leaving them vulnerable to additional threats such as weeds, insects or disease.
One challenge with countless solutions
Climate change is a major challenge, but it’s also an opportunity for us to reimagine what we can accomplish through agriculture. In addition to developing new solutions to reduce agriculture’s impact on the environment, we’re also exploring how to shape agriculture to become part of the solution. As we work to accomplish both, we’re proud to empower farmers with the tools they need to grow their crops in spite of the many challenges they face as we all work toward addressing climate change.