American multinational agricultural biotech corporation Monsanto has announced plans to make its operations carbon neutral by 2021 through a programme targeted across its seed and crop protection operations, as well as through collaboration with farmers.
The company’s efforts focus on three key areas: seed production, crop protection and sharing data.
In seed production, Monsanto says it will look to drive carbon neutral crop production in its own seed production operations by leveraging diverse products and agronomic approaches, such as breeding, plant biotechnology, data science, conservation tillage and cover cropping systems, with the goal of eliminating that portion of its carbon footprint altogether.
Already, working with outside experts in data science on extensive modeling, Monsanto has shown that utilizing these practices and innovations can make an important difference, allowing corn and soybeans to be grown such that soil absorbs and holds greenhouse gases equal to or greater than the total amount emitted from growing those crops. The company says it will also work with farmers to promote and drive the increased adoption of these carbon neutral crop production methods.
In its efforts to make its crop protection business carbon neutral the company is working to develop a programme to provide incentives to farmer customers who adopt carbon neutral crop production methods – in exchange for part of their carbon reduction value. Monsanto says it will use those reductions as offsets to neutralize its remaining carbon footprint.
On the sharing data front, the company says it will share its data and modeling results with the broader agriculture,industry to help drive the adoption of best practices and to reinforce the role crops can play in reducing carbon emissions. To date, these models are focused on the US Corn Belt, where the most accurate data on crop yields, soil types, crop rotations and best management practices are publicly available. The models indicate that high yielding, carbon neutral corn and soybean production, in the US alone, has the potential to reduce crop production emissions equivalent to 100m metric tons of carbon dioxide, which is equal to reducing 233m barrels of oil consumption per year.