Klaus Kirsch

Step by Step with Innovation for
Sustainable Agriculture

It’s undeniable that farming relies on innovative practices. Such innovations are often associated with groundbreaking technologies and practices. However, transformation in farming has often been accompanied by smaller changes. In my view, it’s some of these smaller innovative measures that will complement modern farming, especially in the area of sustainable agriculture.

As long as there has been agriculture, there has been agricultural innovation. From crop rotation and field terracing to the invention of various agricultural machinery and integrated crop solutions, innovations big and small have brought agriculture to where it is today.

Throughout the evolution of modern agriculture, three major trends come to mind: the “Green revolution” occurring between the 1930’s and the late 1960’s, advances in breeding and biotechnology in the late 1990’s, and the present “green data” revolution.

In addition to these wider scale trends, innovation is often realized through the combination of many small measures, such as more efficient and precise machinery, advanced irrigation systems, continuous improvement of varieties or the combination of data sequences with technology for decision making support tools in crop protection. 

When I look at innovation today, I see a lot of progress in the area of sustainable agriculture. But, as is often the case, the acceptance of innovative techniques requires forward-thinking leaders that demonstrate the success of implementing new techniques and tools. This is exactly what happens on our Bayer ForwardFarms. Here the best of modern agricultural practices are combined to ensure that the farms are positioned to thrive for generations to come. On Bayer ForwardFarms, solutions for sustainable agriculture are demonstrated in practice, using integrated crop solutions made up of high-quality seeds, chemical and biological crop protection products, tailored services, stewardship measures and partnerships as key components.

Klaus Kirsch
Klaus Kirsch
Dr. Klaus Kirsch,  
Senior Sustainable Agriculture Manager / Global Manager Bayer Forward Farming at Bayer Crop Science

There are a number of examples of innovative practices that, when implemented into daily farm routine, contribute to sustainable and effective agriculture practice.

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A good example of this kind of innovation on ForwardFarms is Bay+ Movida®, a decision support tool specific for vineyards in France. Linked to local weather stations, the system develops models for disease evolution, plant growth and treatment management. This enables Bay+ Movida® to provide tailored advice for effective disease control to the farmer with minimum environmental impact.

Along with innovative crop protection practices, advanced stewardship measures play an important role in contributing to sustainable agriculture. One of my favorite examples in this context is Phytobac®, a biological waste water treatment system. In this system, wastewater produced during cleaning of sprayers is collected in a waste water tank and then distributed over a soil-straw substrate. The naturally occurring microorganisms in this substrate biodegrade potential residues in the wastewater resulting in the evaporation of clean water. What a striking solution!

There are also other, simple appearing measures that can improve crop productivity and at the same time preserve natural resources. Cross-borders, resembling small dams between potato hills, can act as soil-erosion barriers that retain water and avoid run-offs and loss of valuable topsoil. These small dams can also significantly increase yield due to the additional water and nutrient availability. Innovative practices such as these fascinate me with their practicability and sophistication. I am continually impressed by the commitments that farmers make and the innovative approaches they take to running a sustainable and environmentally-conscious farming business.

However, sustainable farming also requires the collaboration of all players in the agricultural value chain to leverage its full potential. Therefore, Bayer ForwardFarming counts on strong partnerships to increase the exchange of agricultural know-how and facilitate communication between farmers and stakeholders, such as Bayer’s involvement with the University of Ghent in the fields of soil biodiversity and precision farming.

For me, it is evident that innovation in agriculture goes beyond exceptional scientific findings, and is also built on the interaction of various fields of technology and collaboration in implementation.

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