Bayer Understands The Future Of Agriculture

Henry Smith
Wed, 4 May 2016
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For many agricultural input companies, a rethink of business models may be in order.

More and more, farmers are welcoming the use of technology into their area of work, supplementing their own efforts in order to move away from traditional chemical inputs in favour of sustainable agriculture, while still keeping harvests and profits as high as possible.

Seemingly every day, a new business sprouts from the ground to lend to the ever-growing precision agriculture market. These businesses specialise in informing farm operators based on carefully crafted algorithms on how to manage their inputs such as irrigation, fertilization or crop protection for maximum yield and efficiency on the farm. Furthermore, their advice is tailor-made to the farmer’s needs, since these algorithms are based on sensor data obtained at that specific farm.

Liam Condon, head of one of the largest suppliers of pesticides at Bayer CropScience, attributes this paradigm shift to an admission that chemical inputs on their own may not be the most sustainable option when it comes to developing agriculture for a UN-projected 10 billion people by the year 2050. “If our only goal is to sell as much inputs as possible by the litres of chemicals, I think we would have a real problem going forward.”

This comprehensive viewpoint of sustainability championed by Bayer is supplemented by their detailed and meticulous policy process for scrutinising and securing potential partnerships in the agriculture value chain, with all Bayer’s partner companies sharing similar goals of global food security.

Earlier this year, Bayer made their own foray into the world of digital agriculture, acquiring plant health diagnostics software developer proPlant. All around them, other agrochemical companies are also anticipating an expected drop in chemical inputs by acquiring digital farming companies, with a view to making up for this revenue loss in the service sector of their business.

“If you only spray half of the field, that’s much less inputs,” Condon continued. “The knowledge to get to the fact that you only spray that part of the field – that, you can sell.” U.S. seeds giants Monsanto tend to agree, with their post-Syngenta corporate vision being one of big data and analytics, calling it the “glue that holds the pieces together” of its strategy for future growth, as Chief Technology Officer Robert T. Fraley explained. “We transformed from industrial chemical company to a biotech company, then to a seeds company,” Fraley said. “Now, we’re transforming again.”

As the face of agriculture changes once again, digital agriculture becomes more and more influential as the battle for high yields, sustainability and efficiency intensifies. The help of Bayer, however, with their lauded recruitment policy which allows them to collect the best talent from around the global, as well as a deep understanding of global nutrition needs, our agricultural future is in good hands.