Bayer has announced the European launch of its global carbon initiative. The main goal is the decarbonisation of the food value chain focusing on farmers’ activities for a more resilient and sustainable food system.

Bayer said that it brings together farmers and food value chain interests to explore future reward structures for farmers implementing new carbon reduction practices, therefore contributing to the Green Deal objectives of the European Commission.

The company adds that the new European Carbon Program recognises the pivotal role growers and their land can play in helping to create lasting, positive environmental impacts.

Sustainability at Bayer

Bayer says the new programme is an integral part of its sustainability commitments specifically aimed at reducing field greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 30% in 2030.

Carbon business venture lead for Europe, Middle East and Africa at Bayer Crop Science, Lionnel Alexandre said: “Our Carbon Program actively contributes to the development of carbon farming activities in Europe by working directly with farmers in their role as primary producers and involving companies throughout the food value chain.

“This collaboration at a food value chain level will help decarbonise the European food system in a way that works for farmers, the environment and consumers.

“The main idea is to reward growers for adopting climate-smart farming practices like using cover crops, tillage reduction, crop rotations and precision nitrogen application. These activities sequester carbon in the soil while improving soil health, resilience and productivity as well as limit emissions,” he added.

Tools to support decarbonisation

To support these operations, Bayer said it will develop a digital tool which will allow farmers to claim rewards based on accurate and verified data.

This digital Monitoring, Reporting and Verification (MRV) solution is expected to be compliant with current data privacy standards and Bayer said it will be reliable and simple to operate for every farmer.

The 27 participating farmers from seven countries are collectively contributing about 500ha of land from their farms based in France; Spain; Belgium; Denmark; Germany; Ukraine; and the United Kingdom.

Farmers, Bayer experts and food value chain players work together in a carbon farming lab where they can jointly test activities and generate learnings.

Discussions with several food processors and retailers are ongoing, and they are expected to join the Carbon Program by the end of the year.

Farm changes

After establishing the current carbon content in the participating farmers’ lands as the baseline for the project, farmers will implement climate smart farming practices like using cover crops and tillage reduction.

This implementation of new practices will be continuously monitored and improved.

The learnings and the further insights gained from the participating project partners from across the food value chain will inform the design and implementation of an accurate and reliable digital MRV tool, according to Bayer.

The programme is expected to deliver the digital tool in in the next three years.

“An intact soil structure and organic matter soil management are decisive for securing my income,” said Stefanie Peters, Agro-Farm GmbH Nauen and part of the Bayer ForwardFarm network.

“In my opinion, carbon farming, the sequestration of carbon in the soil, can make a great contribution to this. I am also looking forward to working with a variety of partners within Bayer’s Carbon Program.”

Bayer vision for the future

Alexandre Teillet, head of new business models at Bayer Crop Science for Europe, Middle East and Africa, said: “Our vision is that in the future, food retailers or food processors will be able to work with confidence on effective carbon emission reduction projects involving their partner farms from their specific supply chains.

“At the same time, farmers, as primary producers of a stable and longer food value chain, shall be rewarded in a transparent and fair way – for their effective carbon emission reductions conducted through their farming practices everywhere in the world.”

This European Carbon Program kick-off is the latest addition to Bayer’s actions to help decarbonise food systems in Europe.

Earlier this year, the company announced its participation into the EU Carbon + Farming Coalition which is driving a farmer-centric approach for designing Food Systems decarbonization solutions in the region.