Agriculture accounts for approximately 13 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions. Working with outside experts through data science and extensive modeling, Monsanto has determined that the right practices and products allow a significant portion of the corn and soybeans in the United States to be grown in a way that the soil sequesters greenhouse gases – in amounts equal to or greater than the total amount emitted from growing those crops.

In December 2015, Monsanto announced a first-of-its-kind program to introduce a model for carbon neutral crop production that will help reduce the carbon footprint of crop production. These incentives and practices, including conservation tillage and the planting of cover crops, could result in carbon neutral crop production on millions of acres of farmland.

The Carbon Neutral Crop Production Model

Monsanto also will offer farmers incentives and resources to continue to promote the adoption of best management crop production practices, including:

  • Agronomic data science is integral to achieving and verifying carbon neutral crop production. The Climate Corporation, a division of Monsanto, has extensive expertise in data science and is involved in scaling up tools needed to accurately characterize soil and crop characteristics in individual fields.
  • Reduced tillage practices is a method of farming that eliminates plowing to prepare the land for planting seeds and weed control, resulting in improved soil health and carbon storage.
  • Cover crops, such as clover, have a remarkable ability to enhance soil health that has a direct impact on water quality and the prevention of erosion, helping keep carbon stored in the soil.
  • Precision agriculture optimizes the seeds planted per acre and the amount of pesticides and fertilizer that farmers use.
  • Nutrient management improves soil health and ensures more nitrogen ends up feeding the crop and less enters the environment, reducing both greenhouse gas emissions and losses to waterways.
  • The planting of the best hybrid and biotech seeds enables carbon neutral crop production practices by bolstering yields without expanding agricultural land into forests and grasslands.