The company says its efforts will focus on several areas:
Monsanto will drive carbon neutral crop production in its own seed production operations through various 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.
Monsanto says its work with experts outside of the company has shown that these practices and can allow corn and soybeans to be grown so that soil absorbs and holds greenhouse gases equal to or greater than the total amount emitted from growing those crops.
Monsanto will also work with farmers to drive increased adoption of these carbon neutral crop production methods.
The company also is targeting its crop protection business to be carbon neutral by 2021. Previously, Monsanto announced a goal to reduce the operational greenhouse gas emissions intensity in its crop protection operations by 22 percent (per pound of active ingredient) by 2020.
To offset the remainder of its crop protection and other non-seed production operations, Monsanto is working to develop a program to provide incentives to farmer customers who adopt carbon neutral crop production methods in exchange for part of their carbon reduction value. Monsanto will use those reductions as offsets to neutralize its remaining carbon footprint.
Sharing Data, Increasing Adoption of Best Practices
Monsanto has developed the carbon neutral crop models with the help of external experts and says it will share their data and modeling results with the broader agriculture, climate modeling and other communities.
To date, these models are focused on the US Corn Belt. 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 100 million metric tons of carbon dioxide, which is equal to reducing 233 million barrels of oil consumption per year.
Monsanto says big data will play a major role in achieving carbon neutral crop production. Innovations from The Climate Corporation, a division of Monsanto, and other data scientists have allowed farmers to plant and harvest crops more precisely. Examples include the use of satellite imagery to precisely target emerging pest problems or the development of sophisticated algorithms that model the exact fertilizer needs of each field.