Our global population is rapidly expanding, and the demand for fresh water is growing with it. By 2030, scientists project there will be a 40 percent gap between the supply and demand of water—a gap that could devastate communities around the world. The planet and its people need a smarter way to safeguard the water supply.
At Bayer, we believe that every investment we make in innovation needs to be an investment in sustainability. Aiming to protect water resources, we’re working to develop technology that improves water efficiency and quality.
Transforming water usage with data
Digital tools are giving farmers a complete picture of their operation. Using billions of data points, farmers can prevent problems before they arise, allowing them grow enough while using less.
The Climate FieldView™ platform, for example, offers precipitation alerts that notify farmers of rain. These notifications allow them to more accurately water their fields, while monitoring tools help farmers reduce pesticide runoff into freshwater sources. With real-time information at their fingertips, farmers can ensure water is used only where it’s needed, when it’s needed, which in turns helps to deliver a successful harvest.
Through a combination of satellite and drone imagery, soil data, and weather, farmers are not only growing more sustainably—they’re also learning how to improve irrigation systems on the farm.
High efficiency irrigation systems are important tools
For decades, farmers have been watering their crops using traditional irrigation methods. This can be inefficient as each field varies in soil quality, nutrient availability, topography, and crop type—often within the space of a few meters—and they can require a different amount of resources.
Until recently, the vast amounts of data that could have informed a more efficient application of water to crops would have been too much to measure, let alone analyze. But with the use of data and analytics, new digital tools are allowing farmers an unprecedented level of insight into their land and their water needs—starting with smart irrigation technology like DripByDrip irrigation.
Here’s how it works: Lines are placed directly in the ground, enabling a more precise application of water, fertilizer, and crop protection products. Soil humidity sensors scan the soil, gathering information about how much water is needed at a specific point in a plant’s life cycle. Using this data, the DripByDrip system determines whether to begin applying water.
Automating this process not only reduces work for farmers, but lessens their impact on the environment, using up to 60 percent less water compared to traditional irrigation methods. And the same technology can be used to apply crop protection precisely and directly to plants.
Additionally, we are seeking to drive further improvements in irrigation efficiency in the entire seed production footprint by providing growers with opportunities to shift from less to more efficient irrigation systems (i.e. upgrading old sprinklers to modern high efficiency pivots). The upgrades will result in millions of cubic meters of irrigation water saved.
Finding better answers through research
With water playing a major rate-limiting role in areas with water scarcity, we’re focused on strengthening the food supply for our growing population through research and development of water-efficient technologies and products.
Through Water Efficient Maize for Africa (WEMA), we’re helping protect harvests in water-limited conditions. A partnership aimed at improving food security, as well as the livelihood of smallholder farmers, WEMA provides research and expertise to sub-Saharan African farmers. The program helps these smallholders acquire locally adapted maize hybrids without paying a trait royalty fee, allowing them to feed their families and communities.
Since 2013, more than 100 drought-tolerant hybrids have been approved for commercial release in Kenya, Mozambique, South Africa, Tanzania, and Uganda.
A thirst for new ideas
Like the very nature of water, our commitment to collaboration knows no boundaries. We believe finding the best way to preserve and protect our natural resources requires teamwork together with key stakeholders, regulators, NGOs, farmers, and consumers.