Bayer Rolls out US Digital Farming Platform

23.08.2022 - Under the name ForGround, Bayer is rolling out a US digital farming platform designed to help US growers use environmentally friendly practices and connect them with companies seeking more sustainable food, feed and biofuel ingredients.

While the platform would be rolled out initially in the US, Bayer visualizes extending it to other countries at some point in the future.

ForGround will draw on weather, soil, seed and farming practice data the Germany-based group has collected over the years to make recommendations on how to boost soil health, cut emissions and reduce water use and chemical applications.

Environmental outcomes are planned to be certified by a third-party verifier, enabling the growers to potentially sell their products for a premium.

Building on incentive practices pioneered by the former US agribusiness giant Monsanto it acquired in 2018, the Leverkusen-headquartered multinational plans to charge companies a flat or per-acre fee for the services and encourage farmers to take out seed and chemical sales and data-platform subscriptions.

To participate, farmers must enroll in Bayer's Climate FieldView platform, where growers log data about agricultural practices such as no-till farming or planting cover crops.

"This is a challenge and a key benefit for agriculture. But it's also a challenge and a benefit for companies that have made sustainability commitments around the world," said Leo Bastos, head of global commercial ecosystems at Bayer CropScience.

According to the Reuters news agency, Bayer’s is one of several recent initiatives by agriculture companies aiming to meet rising demand for sustainably produced food and to profit off data collection through subscriptions for new technology.

Farmers have long been wary about how agriculture suppliers use their data, Reuters notes. But amid economic pressure it is easier to convince them to participate if they can gain insights from the huge amount of seed and planting data and make more money.

Author: Dede Williams, Freelance Journalist