•A radical shift in farming is needed to address food security and climate change
•Regenerative agriculture is the shift for producing more with less, while restoring more
•The latest regenerative agriculture practices to be carried out at Bayer ForwardFarm in Shanghai
Shanghai, September 6, 2023 - ″Producing More with Less, While Restoring More: Shaping the Future of Regenerative Agriculture in China″ was held in Pudong New Area, Shanghai, hosted by Bayer. Representatives from government, academic institutions and industrial associations, value chain including Shanghai Pudong New Area Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee, Chuansha Town Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee, Shanghai Pudong Guaguajiao Co-operative, Agricultural Environment and Sustainable Development Institute of Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences, China Green Food Association, Netafim, Chuansha New Town Agricultural Investment Development Co., Ltd and CloudYoung LOT Technology attended the event, witnessing the implementation of regenerative agriculture on Bayer ForwardFarm in Shanghai.
The world is facing increasing pressures on natural resources. Regenerative agriculture, which is beneficial for pollution reduction and ecological restoration, has emerged as a leading frontier in the global agricultural industry. It has gained widespread attention and recognition from government, business, and academia. Research indicates that regenerative agriculture can improve soil health, enhance productivity, increase farmers’ income, and boost the economic well-being of communities. Additionally, it enables efficient water resource utilization, mitigates climate change, and restores biodiversity.
Leo Hu, Chief Operating Officer, Crop Science Greater China, highlighted in his keynote that to address two of the most globally recognized challenges, food security and climate change, we need to make a radical shift in farming—digging even deeper to unlock more sustainable solutions and bringing them all to scale. This shift is regenerative agriculture. ″Shaping the future of regenerative agriculture in China, we look forward to collaborating with all parties in China for the path forward low-carbon and high-quality development of Chinese agriculture.″
Leo Hu, Chief Operating Officer, Bayer Crop Science Greater China
Regenerative agriculture as the shift in farming
In recent years, the issues of food security and climate change have become increasingly serious, exacerbating the pressures on agricultural ecosystems. Date shows that, by 2050, climate change is projected to reduce grower harvested yields by 17%. On top of this, there will be 20% less land that growers can use for farming. This is for the farmer. For us as consumers, by 2050, we need to feed an additional 2.2 billion people. That's 2.2 billion more mouths to feed. Combined with climate change impact, we need to increase food and feed output by 50%.
At the international level, the United Nations Environment Programme and the Food and Agriculture Organization jointly launched the ″United Nations Decade on Ecosystem Restoration″ (2021-2030)1 , advocating for the protection and restoration of millions of hectares of ecosystems for the benefit of both humanity and the natural world. Dongyu Qu, the Director-General of the FAO, highlighted that the increasing pressure on the world’s natural resources is affecting the well-being of 40% of the global population. It is imperative for humanity to change its mindset and advocate for the establishment of more efficient, inclusive, resilient, and sustainable agricultural and food systems. This includes restoring ecosystems and ensuring sustainable food production.
In China, developing eco-friendly, low-carbon agriculture has become a crucial strategy for promoting green agricultural development under the context of the ″dual carbon goals″. The 20th National Congress of the Communist Party of China emphasized the need to synergistically promote carbon reduction, pollution reduction, afforestation, and economic growth. In June 2022, the Ministry of Ecology and Environment and the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs successively issued the Implementation Plan for Synergistic Reduction of Pollution and Carbon and Efficiency Enhancement and the Implementation Plan for Agricultural and Rural Emission Reduction and Carbon Sequestration. These plans have provided guidance for promoting low-carbon circular agriculture in China, creating a favorable environment for the development of various technology-based approaches, including regenerative agriculture.
Taking Shanghai as an example, the Shanghai Rural Revitalization 14th Five-Year Plan states that Shanghai's agricultural sector needs to maintain its ecological conservation functions, relying on various natural resources in rural areas and harnessing their roles in soil and water conservation, environmental purification, and biodiversity protection. ″We hope to pilot and promote a series of operational models that lead the future development of agriculture in Guaguajiao Farm, making it a showcase and training base for sustainable agricultural development in Pudong. We also look forward to deep collaboration with more globally outstanding agricultural enterprises to jointly advance the development of sustainable agriculture,″ said Yonghang Li from the Shanghai Pudong New Area Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee.
Yonghang Li, Shanghai Pudong New Area Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee
Together, implement regenerative agriculture at scale
Technological innovation is the driving force behind the spread of regenerative agriculture. Given the diverse types and conditions of farms, along with complex and diverse operational challenges, growers require customized comprehensive solutions tailored to their specific circumstances. This includes crop and smart farming systems, seeds and traits, integrated pest and weed management solutions, water and fertilization, carbon farming, and digital agriculture.
Companies like Bayer Crop Science (the agricultural division of Bayer Group) are leading in regenerative agriculture and together with partners to implement regenerative agriculture at scale. Bayer’s global presence and leading market position reach millions of farmers across some of the world’s largest crops, where the seed and trait technologies reach ~340m acres globally. It is worth to call out that because of the three business categories of seeds and traits, crop protection and digital, its long experience and industry-leading investment of ~3 billion euros each year in R&D, and five exciting innovation engines breeding, biotech, small molecules, biologicals and digital science, Bayer has a comprehensive portfolio of farming solutions tailored to meet grower’s demands. per the company’s leading portfolio and pipeline.
As a knowledge platform that fosters dialogue and showcases on-farm sustainable practices with farmers initiated by Bayer in 2015, Bayer ForwardFarming has collaborated with nearly 30 entrepreneurial independent farms worldwide, demonstrating customized solutions, offering advanced tools and field practices, providing proactive management measures, fostering partnerships and facilities, and actively delivering regenerative agriculture benefits.
Jingping Guo, the Director Business Development, Bayer Crop Science China, stated that Bayer ForwardFarming, as a hallmark of Bayer’s efforts in the field, has made substantial contributions to regenerative agriculture in China and around the world. Its collaborations and partnerships have effectively driven industry development and generated substantial impacts in the field of regenerative agriculture. Agricola Testa Bayer ForwardFarm in Argentina: During the partnership from 2019 to 2023, the farm achieved a 13% increase in grain productivity, a 22% increase in gross margins/ha, a 65% improvement in carbon balance (CO2 eq kg/ha), and a 40% increase in system biomass production. Another success story is Beijing Yinhuang Farm, the first Bayer ForwardFarm in APAC. During the partnership from 2019 to 2022, the annual income of the farm increased by 10%, with 20% cost savings and about 4,000 liters of wastewater contained spray residue.
The Shanghai Guaguajiao Co-operative, which will formally join the Bayer ForwardFarming Network in the near future, will introduce two major technologies for regenerative agriculture, including direct-seeded rice trials that combine water conservation, soil improvement and emissions reduction, and devices for pesticide waste treatment by means of microbial degradation Phytobac® (adapted for large-scale cultivation) and Phytobac® mini (developed for smallholders), as well as measures to conserve biodiversity, such as flower strips and insect hotels.
Direct-seeded rice trials that combine water conservation, soil improvement and emissions reduction
Devices for pesticide waste treatment by means of microbial degradation Phytobac® mini (developed for smallholders)
Measures to conserve biodiversity, such as flower strips and insect hotels
It is worth mentioning that in addition to ForwardFarming, Bayer is collaborating with Nestlé, Netafim and large-scale planting cooperatives to help form group standards for regenerative agriculture and co-build a regenerative rice project in Heilongjiang province. It is also working with think tanks to release a regenerative agriculture white paper, and with value chain partners to drive industry development.
Collaborating for seizing opportunity of regenerative agriculture in China
According to Xiaobo Qin, a researcher at the Institute of Environment and Sustainable Development in Agriculture, Chinese Academy of Agricultural Science (CAAS), an integrated framework of ‘government-industry-academia-research-application’ for the development of regenerative agriculture has already been established, and a golden period of rapid development has arrived. To further promote the development of regenerative agriculture in China, future efforts can be focused on leveraging corporate technological capabilities, engaging in deep cooperation with academic institutions, establishing demonstration projects, and utilizing financial means to support the transition towards green, low-carbon, and high-quality practices.
Yunhao Wang, vice president and researcher of China Green Food Association stated that regenerative agriculture emphasizes the health of the soil and focuses on creating an ecosystem centered around soil health. Green food production also emphasizes the ecological environment of the soil, including productivity, carbon sequestration, and overall biodiversity. In this regard, regenerative agriculture and green food production should develop in synergy, while possessing unlimited vitality.
Regenerative agriculture will contribute to Bayer achieving three sustainable development goals by 2030, compared to the 2019 baseline: a 30% reduction in the adverse environmental impact caused by pesticide use among farmers who are served by Bayer, a 30% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, and benefiting 100 million smallholder farmers in low- and middle-income countries. ″Visionary farmers in Bayer ForwardFarming network around the world are breaking free from conventional thinking and leading the way in adopting new technologies in regenerative agriculture. Bayer aims to help farmers reap the synergistic benefits of improved production efficiency, profitability, and sustainable development, ensuring that agriculture thrives,″ stated by Patricio Gunning, Global Director Bayer Forward Farming, Bayer Crop Science.
Patricio Gunning, Global Director Bayer Forward Farming, Bayer Crop Science
 Recreate, Re-imagine, Restore! UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration kicks off