Sponsored by Bayer
Science innovations and advancements in digital tools are helping farmers work more sustainably and become better stewards of the earth’s natural resources. Through Bayer’s water automation and conservation practices, the company is able to do just that.
Patrick Rich, Bayer’s Haleiwa Production Lead, is an advocate and pioneer in sustainable farming. He says Bayer is a better steward to the land because a large part of their farming practices focus on using precision agriculture, or digital tools, to help them gather more timely and accurate information about what’s happening in their fields. These tools and technologies help to address challenges like water stress, pest control, plant diseases and labor shortages. By constantly looking at ways to innovate and improve their farming and conservation practices, Bayer is able to be more efficient in using and preserving natural resources on our farms and in surrounding areas.
At their farms on Oahu, Maui and Molokai, Bayer uses various precision agriculture tools and practices to help prevent water loss, mitigate water stress, and reduce and preserve water resources. The company utilizes Soil Moisture Probes or soil moisture sensors to collect root depth and water absorption data every 15 minutes, which helps them adjust irrigation recommendations as needed. This soil moisture data, in combination with weather data and satellite imagery, has also helped to build a custom irrigation systems that optimizes water application and crop health monitoring. Bayer also has weather sensing networks which provide unique, real-time data that is captured through weather stations strategically positioned throughout their farms. The company also uses water automation software technology which allows them to monitor and time their irrigation practices remotely through a smart phone app. This tool has helped to save millions of gallons of water annually across Bayer’s Hawaii operations.
Bayer Haleiwa uses a unique water automation system. It was the first farm to adopt automated irrigation across all of their operations. Through this automation, the company is able to help provide water to neighboring farmers. With the digital system on a timer, they are able to water their crops at night and the local farmers are able to water from the same system during the day, during their business hours. It’s an easy to use system that they can turn off and on directly from phones or iPads.
In addition to water conservation, Bayer has made great strides in reducing their diesel fuel use by purchasing the most fuel-efficient equipment available, including tractors, planters and trucks. By using reduced tillage methods, they have reduced the number of “passes” made through the field to raise the crop, effectively reducing the amount of fuel used.
Bayer has also been able to reduce their use of pesticides by adopting a comprehensive integrated pest management plan that includes tools such as the promotion and cultivation of beneficial insects, frequent field inspections, netting to protect plants in the same way that window screens keep insects out of homes, sticky traps to capture flying pests, and through plant cover crops to keep soil healthy and reduce insects and diseases that could affect future crops.