Bayer is piloting a programme that pays farmers to adopt more climate-friendly practices that sequester carbon.
It says the move will create additional on-farm income and tackle climate change by helping to keep carbon in the ground where it can benefit both the soil and the environment.
Carbon Initiative is currently being carried out across more than 200,000 hectares in the US and Brazil and involves helping farmers to implement methods such as no-till and cover cropping and then buying their carbon credits off them.
Bayer has developed a carbon modelling approach augmented by sensor use, satellites and digital tracking technology on the farms taking part to verify how much carbon is being sequestered.
Speaking during the Future of Farming Dialogue online conference, Liam Condon, president of Bayer’s Crop Science division said: “This changes farming, instead of paying farmers for food they produce, why don’t we pay them for the amount of carbon they sequester in the soil? This would open up a new income scheme for farmers, but it is helping the planet at the same time.”
Bayer is working on formal certification for the soil carbon accounting methodology and collaborating with a number of external verifiers Mr Condon said.
“Ultimately, we want farmers to be able to sell their carbon credits, ideally on a carbon trading platform.”
Closer to home, Bayer is exploring how the approach could be adapted as part of the European Green Deal and says pilots here could start in 2021.
He added: “We will have results next year. We’ll be sharing these with politicians and regulators and advocating new systems for agriculture so we can reward farmers for their services to the ecosystem from a carbon sequestration point of view. It needs to be science-based and verifiable. This could massively change both farming, and our approach to mitigating climate change.”