Stories | May 23, 2017 | Read Time: 4 minutes
Driving Innovation in Modern Agriculture to Combat Climate Change
Modern agricultural practices can play a big role in reducing the amount of carbon in our atmosphere.
In addition to improving our own carbon footprint and pursuing carbon neutrality, we provide products and services that help farmers grow crops more sustainably, and we collaborate with others to drive climate-smart agriculture.
- Established systems solutions – Improved seed varieties enable better harvests on the same amount of land and allow more efficient use of resources. A systems approach to crop protection and integrated pest management reduces crop loss and facilitates sustainable practices.
- Emerging innovations – Agricultural biologicals that are applied to the seed before planting enhance the availability of nutrients during development, helping to improve harvests while using resources more efficiently. Digital Tools and data science facilitate more precise agronomic decisions that improve the sustainability of farming.
Taking a Collaborative Approach
Enabling Carbon Neutral Crop Production
As part of our commitment to make our own operations carbon neutral, we commissioned a third-party expert to examine the potential for reducing carbon emissions through agriculture in the United States. The resulting report, titled Charting a Path to Carbon Neutral Agriculture: Mitigation Potential for Crop Based Strategies, shows that widespread adoption of recommended practices could potentially result in more than 100 million metric tons of annual greenhouse gas emissions reductions in the United States alone. That’s equal to the carbon absorption potential of more than 2.5 billion tree seedlings grown for 10 years.
Among the most critical tasks for encouraging carbon neutral crop production is a scalable and verifiable carbon accounting framework for measuring and reporting carbon reductions from the adoption of specific agricultural practices and systems. We have assembled and commissioned the Carbon-Neutral Collaborative, a group of experts and leading scientists in agricultural greenhouse gases, to help develop this framework.
Encouraging Climate-Smart Practices
Together with several other leading food and agri-business companies, Monsanto co-chairs the Climate Smart Agriculture (CSA) Working Group, which is part of the World Business Council for Sustainable Development’s (WBCSD) Low Carbon Technology Partnerships initiative (LCTPi). The CSA Working Group fosters and expands collective action in order to promote adoption of climate-smart agricultural systems worldwide. By 2030, it aims to:
- Make 50 percent more food available
- Reduce agricultural and land use change emissions from commercial agriculture by at least 50 percent (65 percent by 2050)
- Strengthen the climate resilience of farming communities
The largest source of atmospheric carbon related to farming occurs when agricultural expansion leads to deforestation or draining of wetlands, which reduces the ability of the natural ecosystem to absorb and store carbon. Conservation International (CI) and Monsanto have been working together on the CI Sustainable Agriculture Landscape initiative since 2008 in Brazil (ongoing) and since 2013 in Indonesia (completed in 2016). Together we have protected and restored nearly 42,000 combined acres.
Protected wetlands of Indonesia
Promoting Soil Health
The National Corn Growers Association and the Soil Health Partnership, in coordination with Monsanto, is working with farmers to establish more than 100 test sites to demonstrate the highest-impact cropping rotations and systems to aid in greenhouse gas emissions reductions.
The USDA Resilient Economic Agricultural Practices in conjunction with the ATiP Foundation is a public-private partnership supported in part by Monsanto with a goal of advancing resilience and economic viability of healthy soils for land uses.
Driving Nutrient Efficiency
In partnership with other leading companies, we are members of the Midwest Row Crop Collaborative through which we’re engaging with farmers, consumers, supply chain partners, and NGOs to find ways to manage nutrient applications more efficiently and curb greenhouse gas emissions on 20 million acres of U.S. crop land by 2020.
Adapting to Climate Change
Drought and shifting pest infestations are two effects of climate change that can negatively impact smallholder farmers, in particular. The Water Efficient Maize for Africa project, of which Monsanto is a part, is a multi-stakeholder partnership that aims to improve food security and livelihoods among smallholder farmers in Sub-Saharan Africa by developing hybrid maize (corn) seed that uses water more efficiently and resists insect pests.