In the last few decades, the impact of crop protection on the environment has decreased while ensuring yield and helping growers produce more with less. However, with new tools and innovations we have the opportunity — and responsibility — to continue reducing this impact.
There is no single solution for reducing the environmental impact of crop protection — everything has tradeoffs, and each grower’s operations must be considered in a holistic manner. We seek to better understand the specific challenges growers face; the measures they are taking to protect their crops and the impact these solutions have on the surrounding environment.
Equipped with this knowledge, we can recommend a range of tools to help growers protect their crops and lessen their environmental impact, so they can produce more with less. And with an emphasis on innovation and sustainability, we will continue to expand growers’ choice of crop protection tools.
A data-driven approach to reducing environmental impact
There is no one-size-fits-all solution in agriculture, and what works for one grower may not work for another. We will partner with growers in the countries and crops where we can have the greatest impact to optimize their entire integrated crop management approach. With our ever-expanding set of tools driven by our innovation pipeline, we partner with growers to select crop protection solutions tailored to their farms that both add value and reduce the environmental impact of their operations. To achieve our commitment, we will focus on:
Optimizing pesticide volumes required per hectare through tools like:
- Precision application: data-driven tools that ensure that the right amount of crop protection is applied in the right place and at the right time
- Seed treatment: new seed-applied crop protection tools can dramatically reduce the volume of chemicals used and potential exposure to wildlife and the environment
- Seeds and traits: crops bred and designed to better fight the pests and diseases that attack them, ensuring that less chemical crop protection is needed
Discovering new and better crop protection solutions that can significantly reduce environmental impact such as:
- New chemistry: new modes of action with better environmental profiles that deliver the same level of efficacy while reducing potential environmental risk and exposure
- Biologics: new products derived from microbes or based on natural defense mechanisms of organisms will complement and enhance integrated management practices and reduce pest resistance
Reformulating existing and new crop protection tools to mitigate environmental risk and reduce the volume of pesticides such as:
- Improved formulations: formulas that reduce drift or increase the adherence of a product to the leaves, helping to keep the product where it is supposed to be and limiting exposure off-field to wildlife and the environment
Recommending best practices to growers that can improve their sustainability and reduce their environmental impact including:
- Stewardship measures: good agricultural practices such as buffer strips, tillage practices, drift and run-off reducing measures that aim to keep crop protection where it is intended: on the field. See this in practice on the Bayer ForwardFarming network.
- Integrated Pest Management: a holistic and systemic approach to pest management on a seasonal or multi-year timescale
Getting to 30% by 2030
This is not a subjective commitment on which success or failure is open for interpretation. Just as innovation can empower farmers to do more with less, it has also enabled us to put a quantifiable metric on the progress we’ve committed to making. Progress that will be independently verified and transparently communicated. Progress that we will pursue as rigorously as our financial targets.
We will use two externally developed models that account for a range of factors influencing environmental impact. First, we will establish a baseline measurement of the environmental impact of the crop protection market in countries and crops with the relatively high environmental impact where Bayer can make a difference. Going forward, we will regularly assess the overall adoption of the impact-reducing levers we bring to market against the current market standard. We will then be able to determine the overall environmental impact reduction of our crop protection against the baseline — and against our 30 percent reduction commitment by 2030.
Finally, we will transparently track all of our progress here for all to see.