In a world where consumers are demanding increases in traceability and sustainability, farmers are wondering what is the next step. As farmers, we are addressing consumer’s concerns for the environment by doing more, with less. In line with Bayer’s sustainability mission, they have gathered data across the food chain to help farmers and ranchers meet those challenges.
The first step in Bayer’s sustainability mission was to collect data from farmers. After all, you can’t improve what you can’t measure. After establishing the base line, farmers can see what works well for them and what other opportunities are out there. Bayer has now attained the data to really understand the sustainability impact of agriculture. With the use of digital tools, they plan to see what further opportunities exist.
Steven Ward, Senior Director of Geospatial and Weather Science, with Bayer’s The Climate Corporation division, spoke at the 2019 Agricultural Media Summit. “There’s not a ‘one size fits all’ solution for sustainability. You have to understand what works for you and your operation,” said Ward.
With this new data, scientist and other specialists will begin to tackle this new project. For example, biodiversity and identifying non-productive ag lands from the grower database. These resources will show growers how to save money and inputs on their land, and farmers can work with Bayer’s partnerships with Quail Forever and Pheasants Forever if they are interested in entering their programs into conservation easements. Another project is to look at water efficiency and greenhouse gas. Scientist will look to see if they can convert every pass of equipment into an estimate of greenhouse gas emissions.
“We are moving to different business models that are going to allow us to combine our expertise in data, chemistry, and seed and really begin offering growers tailored solutions that minimize input and maximize efficiency and output,” said Ward.
One example of this expertise is Bayer’s advancements in biotechnology, including short corn. Short corn would allow late season and chemical crop protection applications. This could change how farmers apply their nutrients, increase management opportunities, and decrease aerial application.
The overall goal of this data haul is to help farmers either identify where they can improve or highlight where they are doing really well. As farmers and ag retailers, we are cognizant of consumer’s demand for sustainability. It has always been a goal of the agricultural industry to be the best we can be, not only for consumers, but also for ourselves.
“The insight we are getting from the volume of data we have now is really beginning to open up and determine what our path is going to be for the next four to five years,” said Ward.