Marc Sneyders

Moving Farming Forward

Bayer ForwardFarming and Ghent University partnership allow farmers and scientists to put sustainable agricultural innovation into practice.

The Bayer FowardFarming initiative is about advancing sustainable agriculture in many different perspectives. Combining skills and knowledge is a must and this is done on farms around the world by bringing people together to exchange and collaborate. Partnering with local and global organizations to combine skills and knowledge for shared success is an essential part of the initiative. Just one example of recent collaboration is a partnership between the Belgian ForwardFarm, Hof ten Bosch, and Ghent University.

To help farmers make the right choices for themselves, and the environment, Bayer and Ghent University in Belgium have jointly launched the ForwardFarming Lecture Chair, an endowed position focusing on precision farming and biodiversity.

The Ghent Faculty of Bioscience Engineering focuses on developing an understanding of the complex biological, physical and social-economic factors that shape agricultural systems. Their research areas cover soil science, genetics, cropping systems, environmental interaction, livestock production and economics applied to agriculture. The faculty’s end goal is to provide sustainable agricultural tools and technologies that help farmers in all areas of their work.

Marc Sneyders
Marc Sneyders
Marc Sneyders,
Head Sustainable Operations at Bayer Crop Science

With access to the facilities at Hof ten Bosch, scientists and students have the opportunity to test and implement their latest innovations on an operational farm. Research teams will be focusing on smart farming techniques such as digital soil mapping, plant monitoring and protection and yield mapping.

The partnership has already revealed valuable insights that will serve as the foundation for further research, innovation and discussions.

Soil Mapping

What happens below the surface is essential to produce a crop that yields a bountiful harvest above ground. However, it is a challenge for farmers to accurately measure and predict the fertility and variability of soil on their land. At Hof ten Bosch, Ghent University research teams have been testing advanced measurement technologies to obtain non-invasive scans of soil ranging from 25cm to 3m depth. The information gathered by these scans includes details of the electric and magnetic characteristics of the soil, which can be used to better understand the variation of crop yield amongst different plots of land.

Drone Monitoring

Another important accomplishment of the partnership involves using drones as a means of detecting early stages of weed growth, disease and drought stress in crops. Thanks to the detailed digital and thermal images produced by the drones, field management can be customized according to the needs of the crop. This promotes efficiency in use of fertilizers, crop protection agents, and irrigation which are essential to sustainable agricultural practices.

Integrated Pest Management

Cereal leaf beetles have been known to cause in exceptional cases wheat yield losses of up to 40% in the Flanders region of Belgium. To help farmers avoid these losses, researchers at the University’s Faculty of Bioscience Engineering are developing a warning system that provides advice based on cultivation techniques, weather data and environmental factors. The system will help the farmers at each stage, from determining optimal sowing dates and density to deciding the level and timing of fertilization and pest control.

The program will continue to connect scientists and farmers, putting ideas, like those above, into action. As famers work to meet the challenges of securing our food system, continuing the discussion around modern farming technologies is critical to advancing sustainable agriculture.

Learn more about Bayer ForwardFarming at or follow #ForwardFarming.

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