Carbon initiative rewards farmers for stewardship

Agriculture may now have another solution to positively impact climate change thanks to a new initiative launched by Bayer. Beginning starting last summer, Bayer began rewarding farmers in Brazil and the U.S. for generating carbon credits by adopting 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 (GHG) emissions. The pilot program has been offered in 9 states in the Midwest, including Ohio.

“We want to reward farmers for adopting new practices that sequester carbon from the atmosphere. That is what we started in the U.S. and Brazil with around 1,200 farmers. We’ve had a great response from farmers joining the pilot program,” said Leo Bastos, head of the Carbon Business Model for Bayer Crop Science. “They do not have to buy any Bayer products, the only requirement is for the farmer to use Climate FieldView and have an account because of the data management. There is a $10 per acre incentive and that is paid once we quantify and verify the carbon removal has happened at the field level. It takes a full cycle of fall through spring and fall the next year. We verify everything and pay the farm.

“This is going to evolve, but for now we are looking at farmers who are willing to move from conventional-till to no-till or strip-till, or farmers who are going to move from no-till into cover crops. A farmer would have to implement those practices and then we verify they did them.”

Bayer’s Carbon Initiative is the result of years of work validating a science-based approach and methodology to make this happen. It recognizes the pivotal role growers and their land can play in helping to create lasting, positive environmental impacts and is the latest in the company’s sustainability commitments specifically aimed at reducing field GHG emission by 30% in 2030.

“Farmers are passionate environmentalists and stewards of the lands they farm,” said Brett Begemann, Chief Operating Officer of Bayer’s Crop Science division. “Their lives and livelihoods depend on the weather, and they are some of the first to be affected by drought, flooding and extreme conditions. If anyone has a vested interest in battling climate change, it’s farmers and we are committed to developing new business models like this unique Carbon Initiative to help them in that fight.”

Soil is one of the most effective ways of sequestering carbon. Incentivizing farmers to embrace no-till, precision nitrogen use or cover crops helps further sequester carbon into the soil, reduce fossil fuel usage and reduce greenhouse gases. While today farmers get rewarded solely for their food, feed and fiber production, those participating in the Carbon Initiative will have the opportunity to be rewarded for their best farm management practices and other sustainability efforts as well.

Farmers will receive assistance in implementing climate-smart agricultural practices and Bayer will acquire the carbon removals created by those practices at transparent prices. The company is also collaborating with partners such as Embrapa in Brazil to build a viable carbon market for farmers.

Bayer plans to expand the program in the U.S. and Brazil to other farmers and then later into other world regions with tailored approaches that will allow growers to choose what climate-smart practices and implementation works best for them. In Europe, Bayer is exploring how this innovative approach could be adapted as part of the European Green Deal. In Asia-Pacific, the goal is to help increase productivity for smallholder farmers as well as reduce methane emissions from rice farming.

“We know that growers in the U.S. are not only good stewards of their land, but also shrewd businessmen, too,” said Lisa Safarian, President of Bayer Crop Science, North America. “That’s why this initiative is so exciting — enabling farmers to realize additional financial benefit from carbon-smart farming practices such as the use of cover crops or no-till agriculture.”

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