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Bayer + Modern, Sustainable Agriculture

As the agriculture industry works to meet the growing challenges of feeding a growing global population, it’s now more important than ever to adopt sustainable agricultural practices. Equally important is an understanding of how each aspect of agriculture impacts the move towards a sustainable future. 
 
 
“Choose your own adventure” below to discover how decisions made in the agriculture industry contribute to Sustainable Ag.
  • Farming Enterprise

  • Farm Location

  • Weed Management

  • Improving Soil Health

  • Digital Technology

  • Sustainable Outcomes

Broadacre Horticulture

Broadacre Farming

You’ve chosen broadacre, which includes crops such as canola, wheat and barley.  

Wheat is one of the most important staples in the world, offering a high content of protein and fibre and consisting mainly of carbohydrates in the form of starch. It also contains more minerals and trace elements, such as phosphorus, selenium, magnesium, zinc and manganese, than any other staple food. These are vital to maintaining a healthy diet.

Globally, wheat is planted on approximately 217 million hectares of land, more than any other crop. Just one hectare of wheat can supply enough flour to make 9,250 loaves of bread. Despite the large yields, the demand for wheat is constantly rising, resulting in a constant short supply of the crop.

Just 43% of globally produced cereal crops are used for food, with the rest being used as animal feed, biofuels or for other purposes such as bioplastics or industrial production.

Sources: https://www.bayer.com/en/the-future-of-agriculture-and-food.aspx ; https://www.cropscience.bayer.com/en/crop-compendium/key-crops/wheat


Horticulture Farming

You’ve chosen horticulture, which includes crops such as fruits, vegetables, flowers and nuts. 

Fruit and vegetable crops are grown on approximately 240 million hectares of land globally, accounting for around half the value of global agriculture production but taking up only 19% of the world’s cultivated land. 

 

The country with the largest production of fruit and vegetables is China, followed closely by India and the United States of America. While cultivating fruits and vegetables requires a lot of labour, the revenue per hectare is significant, reaching up to 500,000 euros (AU$785,000) for crops such as greenhouse-grown tomatoes.

 

Viticulture, growing grapes for wine or table grape consumption, is a major segment of the industry. Grapes are one of the most widely-grown fruits in the world, covering a global area of 7.8 million hectares and yielding 65 million metric tonnes per year. On average, only 7.7 million tonnes are used as table grapes, with most of the remaining yield being used to in wine production.

 

Urban Traditional

Urban Farming

You’ve chosen vertical farming, a modern farming style that covers everything from indoor farms to green walls, and even rooftop farming!

 

In vertical farming, fruit or vegetables are grown in buildings on multiple levels, all year round. This reduces the demand for new farmland and can preserve natural resources. Urban agriculture accounts for approximately 8% of the world’s food production. On average, the market volume for vertical farming is expected to grow by 25% annually, to more than AU$7.7 billion by 2022. 

 

Some examples of how vertical farming is leading the charge with modern, sustainable agriculture:

 

  • Agrilution, a company based in Munich, utilises a method that uses up to 95% less water and 60% less fertiliser than conventional farming.
  • In a 2,300 square metre vertical farm in Japan, formerly the largest in the world, 10,000 heads of lettuce are harvested per day. This is approximately 100 times the volume that could be produced on a similar-sized piece of land that has been farmed conventionally.
  • Singaporean company Comcrop runs a 557 square metre rooftop farm that can produce up to 10 times more food than a horizontal farm of the same size.

 

By 2050, two-thirds of the world’s populations will live in cities. Being able to effectively use these spaces for food production is vital to modern, sustainable agriculture.

 

 

Traditional Farming 

You’ve chosen to farm traditionally, utilising the land to grow your crops and help feed the world. 

 

Did you know that only 3% of the Earth’s surface is made up of arable land? Only 18% of that is used to farm food!

 

On average, farms in the U.S. are up to 100 times larger than farms in Asia. On average, your farm size in each of these areas would be:

 

  • U.S. – 117.8 hectares
  • South America – 74.4 hectares
  • Europe – 12.4 hectares
  • Africa – 2.2 hectares
  • Asia – 1.0 hectare

 

Smallholders, on farms of less than 2 hectares, account for 50% of the world’s food supply, this number jumps to approximately 80% in Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa. Large-scale commercial farms, larger than 2 hectares, account for 30% of global food production. The remaining 20% is produced by urban agriculture, as well as hunting and gathering.

 

Protection Rotation

Crop Protection

You’ve chosen to use crop protection, such as herbicides, insecticides and pesticides, to help safeguard your crops. 

 

On average, crop protection increases yields by 25% when compared to organic farming. Without crop protection, the harvests of major arable crops would be approximately one third lower than they are today. 

 

The below crops would see an average increase in yield from crop protection of:

 

  • Rice – 60%
  • Wheat – 25%
  • Corn – 50%
  • Soybeans – 40%
  • Potatoes – 50%

 

On average, the widespread use of crop protection could reduce the population at risk of starvation by 8.8%. This would help ensure that our precious arable land is used efficiently and effectively.
It takes approximately 11 years to develop, test and register a new crop protection product. This development costs AU$366 million on average. While this process is lengthy and expensive, the development of new, more efficient crop protection products is crucial to modern, sustainable ag.

 

 

Crop Rotation

You’ve chosen to use crop rotation to help protect your crops and prevent resistance. Rotation is a subset of Integrated Weed Management (IWM) and Integrated Pest Management (IPM).

Farmers have always used crop rotation to reduce the incidence of weeds, pests and diseases. Crop rotation broadens your chemical control options and is just one example of non-chemical weed control. Using healthy crops to outcompete the weed and employing regular crop rotation are key in controlling herbicide resistance.

 

“Diversity is the key and good agronomy is essential to sustaining the effectiveness of existing herbicides. The days of just being able to spray and forget are over. We need to be smarter about our use of precious chemical resources. It’s technology and brains combined.” 

 

- Craig White, Australian Lead for Integrated Weed Management Projects

 

Biologics Compost

Biologics

You've chosen biologics, a method that involves giving beneficial bacteria back to the soil to leave it in the best possible condition for future generations.

 

Soil health is becoming increasingly important to sustainable agriculture. In 2013, the UN estimated that if soil continued to degrade at current rates, there were only 60 years left of enough globally fertile soil.

 

In 2015, an FAO report backed this up by stating: “The world’s soils are rapidly deteriorating.” This is due to causes such as soil erosion, nutrient depletion, loss of soil organic carbon and soil sealing.

 

However, the FAO report also said that the use of sustainable management and appropriate technologies are able to prevent this. For many agricultural professionals, biological products such as Serenade Prime help in saving soils, allowing the crops within them to thrive.

 

The beneficial bacteria in Serenade Prime helps to ameliorate soil nutrients for crops. When plants and beneficial bacteria are functioning in harmony in the rhizosphere, resources required for growth such as nutrients and water become more available through the mutually beneficial plant/bacteria relationship.

 

The benefits of the soil amelioration effects of Serenade Prime can include:

 

  • Higher yields
  • Better crop uniformity
  • Improved harvest crop quality
  • Improved shelf life

 


Composting

You've chosen composting, a sustainable method of disposing of waste and helping contribute to soil health.

 

The world’s soils are increasingly disappearing. But their living elements – beneficial bacteria – are capable of saving this valuable resource and making crops thrive.

 

Did you know? 500 is the minimum number of years it takes to form 2,54cm of topsoil, while 5,000 different types of bacteria live in one gram of soil.  

 

Sustainable methods of recycling and replenishing soil, such as composting are therefore integral to farming's future. 

 

Digital Tools Digital Machinery

Digital Tools

You've chosen to farm using digital tools such as drones and apps which can help increase efficiency and productivity.

 

Sustainable farming practices are becoming commonplace with the advancement of digital farming technology.

 

Digital tools can be used on the farm to increase productivity, and therefore help farmers be more sustainable in their practices. Self-driving tractors, drones and robots guided by a farmer’s phone or tablet will enable 24/7 farming during critical times of the season. 

 

Smartphone apps can also be used for collecting and collating data such as disease detection, nitrogen uptake and herbicide resistance in real-time, which can be used to make decisions while on the farm. 

 

 

Digital Machinery

You've chosen to farm using digital machinery such as self-driving tractors and robots, which are aiding in a sustainable farming future. 

 

Tractors can now be fitted with sensing technology and the ability to monitor yield and test and map soil pH levels to allow growers optimise their use of materials and resources.

 

Self-driving tractors, drones and robots guided by a farmer’s phone or tablet will enable 24/7 farming during critical times of the season. And the integration of artificial intelligence, satellite imagery and sophisticated predictive software will help farmers make key decisions in real time, saving time, money and maybe even a crop from the devastating impact of pests or extreme weather.

 

Thanks for exploring the options in Sustainable Agriculture!
 
Agriculture needs innovation: the challenges of tomorrow cannot be resolved with yesterday’s methods.
 
Investment in research and development is more important than ever before, in order to make agriculture more efficient and also more sustainable at the same time. Digital solutions, crop protection and modern breeding methods will all play an important role in this process, as will targeted support for smallholders.
 
Remember, it is our individual choices that will drive the future of modern, sustainable agriculture.
 
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