ST. LOUIS (DTN) -- Since Bayer announced its Carbon Initiative Program in 2020, it has been on a journey to help its customers reduce in-field greenhouse gas emissions 30% by 2030 by adopting reduced tillage practices and planting cover crops. That journey continues with the launch of ForGround, a farmer-first-focused digital platform that offers growers tools, resources, rebates and/or discounts for equipment, cover crop seed and various services as well as the potential to earn revenue through the Bayer Carbon Program.
Unlike other carbon programs that offer payment only on newly enrolled acres, ForGround will offer programs for farmers of all kinds (early or new adopters of no-till or strip-till and/or planting cover crops) to earn additional revenue for how they farm.
The sustainable agriculture platform was just one of several highlights during Bayer's Fields of Technology Showcase. The media-only event also included plot tours at the company's Jerseyville, Illinois, research farm, where officials provided updates on various innovations and Bayer's robust research pipeline. They included a new herbicide molecule primarily for grass control across all major row crops, the Smart Corn System featuring Short Stature Corn, hybrid wheat, and recently launched and yet-to-be-launched next-generation trait technologies for insect and weed control in corn, cotton and soybeans.
FOCUS ON FORGROUND
Leo Bastos, senior vice president Global Commercial Ecosystems, said the Bayer Carbon Program has made great progress since 2020. More than 2,600 growers from 10 countries have enrolled in Bayer Carbon, covering more than 1.4 million acres.
"But it's not nearly enough to have the level of impact required for agriculture to reduce its footprint to ensure agriculture is part of the climate solution while putting the industry on a solid path of sustainable, regenerative agriculture," he stressed.
For the past two years, the company has been talking to farmers on the next steps needed to help more growers transition to regenerative (sustainable) agriculture practices. Those conversations have not been limited to growers, he added.
"Many companies have pledged to meet certain sustainability goals to limit their environmental footprint and to help develop a more regenerative agriculture." Bastos said one of ForGround's primary objectives is to help connect farmers and companies so they can collaborate to advance their sustainability and carbon goals.
The challenge is that both farmers and companies "have completely different realities" in where they are in their sustainable journey, explained Bastos. Some farmers, for example, are early adopters who have been doing no-till and/or cover crops for many years. Others are thinking about or have tried to implement some of these practices. And some are still on the sidelines. Companies, too, have different strategies and approaches in their sustainability commitments as well as achievement levels.
Through ForGround, the platform "opens up the opportunity to accelerate progress," said Bastos, while Bayer meets growers with different realities and companies looking for multiple ways to achieve sustainable goals where they are in their journey.
Bastos emphasized working together will help farmers leave land better than they found it for future generations, a legacy growers told him repeatedly was important to them. Transitioning to regenerative agriculture will also help improve soil health and water-holding capacity/water availability, reduce soil erosion, enhance weather resilience and other potential benefits.
ForGround will offer these benefits for participating growers:
-- Resource library and transition support, agronomic advice from leading experts, field studies/trials and network of farmers and specialists.
-- Discounts and/or account credits from Orthman, ETS Soil Warrior and La Crosse Seed. Other companies are expected to be announced soon.
-- Free subscription to Climate FieldView Plus and easy access to Climate FieldView Data Manager Beta.
-- Under ForGround, the Bayer Carbon Program will offer potential new revenue streams of up to $12 per acre for adopting certain practices. Growers who have already been using these practices may qualify for a historical practice payment on those existing acres under certain criteria. In addition, Bayer's recently increased investment in CoverCress, a renewable oilseed and animal feed crop that can be planted as a winter cover crop, may open additional revenue streams for growers.
For more information on ForGround, visit www.bayerforground.com.
Gregg Hillyer can be reached at Gregg.Hillyer@dtn.com
Follow him on Twitter @GreggHillyer
(c) Copyright 2022 DTN, LLC. All rights reserved.