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Boosting the bottom line through sustainability

Sponsored: Bayer is delivering solutions for growers in key areas: innovation, developing new business models, and measurement and tracking.

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Using climate-smart practices such as precision application through GPS and digital technology is helping farmers to reduce agriculture’s impact on the environment. Source: Nossa Senhora Aparecida Farm, a Bayer ForwardFarm in Brazil.

This article is sponsored by Bayer

Two things have become clear to me during the COVID-19 pandemic — food and nutrition rise to the top in such a time of crisis, and there are very real threats to the resiliency of food systems. 

Inherently this is a discussion about sustainability: Can we sustainably provide everyone with the food and nutrition they need in the face of known and unknown challenges to food systems?

The good news is that momentum for pursuing sustainability has been building in recent years. Hardly a day goes by without reporting about new challenges, urgency or commitments being made to sustainability. This is a global challenge that requires leadership from many areas: governments; academia; business; NGOs; even society. 

I believe that key to success, however, is businesses refocusing and finding a way to build their bottom lines by truly embedding sustainability into how they operate. Doing this creates the financial incentives to achieve global scale and investment in innovation. 

Take agriculture, for instance. Hundreds of millions of farmers across the world have a collective impact on access to food and nutrition, but they also have a collective impact on the environment. Creating business incentives for farmers, their suppliers and their customers brings hundreds of millions of opportunities to enhance sustainability. 

Bayer has looked at some key ways that sustainability and resilience are challenged in and by agriculture and have set forth a new path to address both — better production and preservation. The company has made a commitment to support 100 million smallholder farmers, another to reduce the environmental impact of crop protection by 30 percent and decrease greenhouse gas emissions on our customers’ fields by 30 percent. But more important than what these commitments are is how Bayer intend to achieve them: by embedding them into its business strategy and success. 

Decade of action: Transforming agriculture into an impact generator

Developing a resilient and sustainable food system comes from providing farmers with the best tools and solutions to achieve better harvests with less water, land and energy, while preserving biodiversity and reducing GHG footprints. 

Bayer already has made significant progress when it comes to embedding sustainability into its business to ensure the company is delivering these new solutions for growers in three key areas: innovation; developing new business models; and measurement and tracking.

Innovating with differentiated new tools

Transforming our business starts with our research pipeline — which is why our R&D organization is ensuring that every investment in innovation is an investment in sustainability. Earlier this year, we announced new innovations in our pipeline that deliver value sustainably. The mission is to bring farmers new, differentiated tools that help them produce enough food using fewer natural resources.   

Tiviant, currently available in rice, is a new type of crop protection product that works by stimulating plants’ natural hormone defenses to protect crops from bacterial, viral and fungal diseases. This innovation allows farmers to proactively protect their crops and reduces the need for later curative applications of fungicides and their respective environmental impact. 

Developing new business models

Through new business models that provide business value for embracing sustainable agricultural practices, Bayer is incentivizing farmers to embrace no-till, precision nitrogen use or cover crops helps further sequester carbon into the soil, reduces fossil fuel usage and reduces greenhouse gas emissions. 

Earlier this year, Bayer became the first company to develop a transparent, science-based and collaborative approach to a carbon market for farmers with the launch of the Bayer Carbon Initiative in the U.S. and Brazil. This initiative allows farmers to generate revenue by adopting specific climate-smart practices — such as no-till farming and the use of cover crops — designed to help agriculture reduce its carbon footprint and greenhouse gas emissions. 

Demonstrating results

Bayer is measuring, tracking and demonstrating progress to improve business decision-making and to provide the public with transparency into its efforts.        

Businesses track results rigorously to measure progress, and Bayer is doing this with its sustainability work. But the company wants to go one step further and measure and report its success publicly so others can be a part of this journey. 

For the first time in the agriculture industry, Bayer has an externally developed model that can measure the environmental impact of any crop protection product application in any crop around the world. The company already has used this model to screen its entire portfolio and its uses in all markets. From this, Bayer has established a baseline of critical hotspots around the world and has begun developing solutions that help farmers reduce their environmental impact, while adding value to their businesses. 

The world is rightly focused on how to protect people and stop the spread of the coronavirus. But history also will judge how well we learned from this experience to make ourselves better for the future. By redoubling efforts to increase sustainability, the agricultural sector can ensure greater resilience in our food systems with the hope that future disruptions will have less impact on what is most important — food and nutrition. 

For more information, visit www.cropscience.bayer.com/sustainability

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