German chemical giant Bayer has launched a pilot programme in the USA and Brazil to pay farmers for capturing carbon in cropland soils, Reuters reported on 21 July.

In the first season, the company said it was planning to enrol about 1,200 row crop farmers on its Bayer Carbon Initiative with a view to increasing future participation and expanding into other countries.

The programme required farmers to sign up to Bayer’s Climate FieldView digital farming platform, where growers would log data about their eco-friendly farming practices such as no-till farming or planting cover crops. The claims could then be verified by satellite imagery.

Bayer would then compensate growers for sequestering carbon and pay them in cash or credits to buy products on its Bayer PLUS rewards platform.

The company was working with other partners including Brazil’s Embrapa, the government’s crop research agency, to build a market for trading the carbon credits created.

“If farmers are sequestering carbon to the benefit of society and the planet, they should to be rewarded for it,” Brett Begemann, chief operating officer of Bayer’s Crop Science division, told Reuters.

He did not disclose the cost of the programme and said the value of the sequestered carbon would be dictated by the market.