Working on Water Quality and Scarcity
The United Nations established 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to fight global challenges. In my role as Sustainability Excellence Manager, I am part of our Bayer team supporting our company’s contribution to the SDGs worldwide. On the occasion of World Water Day, I want to focus on SDG #6 – ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all and specifically these subgoals:
- By 2030, improve water quality by reducing pollution, eliminating dumping and minimizing release of hazardous chemicals and materials, halving the proportion of untreated wastewater and substantially increasing recycling and safe reuse globally
- By 2030, substantially increase water-use efficiency across all sectors and ensure sustainable withdrawals and supply of freshwater to address water scarcity and substantially reduce the number of people suffering from water scarcity
- By 2020, protect and restore water-related ecosystems, including mountains, forests, wetlands, rivers, aquifers and lakes
- By 2030, expand international cooperation and capacity-building support to developing countries in water- and sanitation-related activities and programmes, including water harvesting, desalination, water efficiency, wastewater treatment, recycling and reuse technologies
Quality and scarcity are the two ways I think about water and sustainability. Impacting these two variables can seem challenging. Where do we start? What areas are best suited for Bayer to support given our core competencies?
During a visit to one of our Forward Farms, I walked through a potato field where earlier heavy rainfalls would have caused a large amount of runoff, if the grower hadn’t introduced cross-borders, small dams, in potato fields. Such excessive rainfall and soil erosion can cause crop protection products to drift from target application areas which, in turn, may impact the quality of surface water. In collaboration with external partners, Bayer is developing a web-based, geo-information system to visualize potential of runoff/erosion risks. These high-resolution risk maps are coupled with mitigation proposals to show growers how they can make site-specific improvements.
Sustainability Excellence Manager at Bayer Division Crop Science
Working on Water Quality and Scarcity
Bayer promotes water protection and preservation with programs to help growers optimize water usage and stewardship measures focused on protecting surface and ground water from run-off of crop protection products. To do so, Bayer developed the biological remediation system Phytobac™. This system allows farmers to direct wash water from filing or cleaning crop protection equipment into special tanks that use microbes to instinctively degrade any crop protection residuals. Water is evaporated from the tanks mitigating the potential for active ingredients to leech into surface and ground water. The system is now being tested in numerous E.U. countries and offered commercially by suppliers. In Europe, around 4,100 remediation systems are currently in operation.
On the water scarcity topic, Bayer implemented the DripByDrip program in partnership with irrigation pioneers Netafim to deliver targeted crop protection via drip irrigation. This method uses sensors and technology to precisely deliver water and targeted crop protection treatments based on specific geographic needs, pest and disease pressures as well as plant life cycle requirements. This water conscious solution also translates into economic savings for the grower.
Agriculture accounts for 70 percent of all water usage. By working within our core competencies, we can focus on our contribution to both improve water quality and address water scarcity.