Growing our way toward a water-secure future

30 years of cotton innovation to conserve our world’s fresh water 

Water is the foundation of all life as we know it. In fact, water makes us who we are in many ways, and how humanity interacts with this precious natural resource is becoming increasingly important. That’s because water-related challenges are worsening and becoming more urgent around the world. By 2025, 40% of the global population is projected to live in water-stressed areas. Unfortunately, that trajectory means that more communities around the world will experience floods, droughts, hunger, and biodiversity loss with more frequency—and heightened severity.


Half Empty

But this future isn’t set in stone. Agriculture is emerging as a powerful course correction through which we can collectively transform and help heal humanity’s relationship with water. In particular, advancements in cotton production are making an incredible impact in addressing our world’s worsening water challenges. Because cotton is the most water-intensive commodity crop worldwide, every small step forward in reducing its water footprint makes a massive difference. That’s why Bayer has been leading the way to address our global water challenges by prioritising new innovations for cotton growers across Australia.

Why water matters

Water plays a far greater role in our daily lives than we might think. In addition to being a vital source of hydration, water is essential for thriving ecosystems that support farmers’ crops. It’s also necessary for practising everyday hygiene, a fundamental step in global disease prevention. But the amount of water that we drink and use every day pales in comparison to the volumes of “invisible water” we indirectly consume through the food we eat, the clothes we wear and the products we buy. That’s because it takes water to produce, manufacture and distribute every product and service we rely on. 


Seeing Invisible Water

Explore the hidden amounts of water required to produce some of the products we may encounter on a daily basis. 

Working together to conserve our water

Our individual choices and behaviours matter when it comes to addressing water challenges. Around the world, companies currently account for nearly 90% of the world’s fresh water use by humans. It’s a staggering amount, but it’s also an incredible opportunity. Because together, companies and their customers have the power to solve the world’s water crisis by promoting sustainable water practices. 



The same is true in agriculture, which is why Bayer has been pioneering new possibilities to help cotton farmers meet global demand for their crops and for the water we all share. Australia has a particularly rich history of cotton innovation, with 30 years of water action transforming it into one of the most water-efficient cotton industries in the world. In fact, the water savings associated with biotech cotton have helped increase Australian cotton farmers’ income by more than $1.27 billion AUD between 1996 and 2015.

Looking ahead, the ongoing success of the cotton industry hinges on finding new ways to use water more efficiently. That’s why we partnered with Goanna Ag—an ag tech company delivering next generation smart farming practices to Australian growers—to launch our Water Use Efficiency Grant for myBMP-certified cotton growers. To help farmers contribute to the cotton industry’s broader sustainability goals, this initiative provides access to Goanna Ag’s GoField Plus technology, which uses field data and an analytics platform to help growers optimise their irrigation scheduling. 

Six for (SDG)6

Farmers are making incredible headway in curbing global water consumption, but we all share a stake in building a water-secure future. That’s why we’ve partnered with Mina Guli, Founder and CEO of Thirst Foundation, as a proud supporter and participant in her RUN BLUE campaign. This initiative calls on companies to adopt simple practices that can reduce water risks associated with their operations. 

In direct support of the UN Sustainable Development Goal 6 surrounding sustainable water management and sanitation, Guli’s Six for 6 framework is geared towards generating meaningful action on water-related issues to benefit communities around the world. 

It turns out that alongside farmers, Bayer Australia has embodied these steps throughout the last 30 years. See how:


  1. Using water more efficiently
    Working alongside farmers and local experts, we consistently work to help set and exceed stringent new standards for increased water use efficiency across the cotton industry throughout Australia. This includes our facilities, where we’ve implemented BAYSIS—a global system that collects and reports water-related data to help prevent waste and promote water recycling everywhere we work. 

  2. Protecting water quality
    We constantly assess the water footprint and environmental impacts of new investment projects, particularly in developing solutions for farmers to help prevent runoff and overspray in their fields. In addition to our company-wide pollution prevention initiatives, we’re also implementing new procedures to reduce the amounts of active ingredients present in production wastewater.

  3. Ensuring clean water for everyone 
    From farm hands to entire communities, we support projects that help provide access to clean water across Australia and everywhere we work. As such, we’ve also advanced our clean water commitment to our employees by implementing increased access to safe water, sanitation and hygiene across our facilities. 

  4. Pioneering stewardship and transparency
    We believe in sharing what we learn and what we’re doing in addressing our global water crisis. For more than a decade, we’ve collected and published our water-related data in our annual sustainability report. We also participate in external reporting initiatives and products such as contributing to the CDP water security questionnaire. 

  5. Proactively addressing water risks    
    We developed and implemented our Aqueduct Water Risk tool to assess Bayer sites and facilities located in water-scarce areas. With this tool, we implemented sustainable water management plans across 100% of relevant sites. Building on that success, we’re working on expanding this program to areas that are likely to become water-scarce to address—and avert—challenges before they arise.  

  6. Collaborating to end the water crisis
    Just like RUN BLUE, we help everyone we work with to adopt sustainable water practices through audits, evaluations and training. In particular, our Together for Sustainability (TfS) initiative helps promote and verify sustainable practices throughout the chemical industry. Since 2021, we are a proud member of the Water Resilience Coalition (WRC), which supports the CEO Water Mandate of the U.N. Global Compact to develop sustainable strategies for water usage.


There’s much more to be done

Cotton farmers across Australia are already producing some of the highest quality and most sustainable cotton in the world, while also using fewer natural resources than ever before. But we can’t stop there. Together, we’re advancing important breakthroughs in agriculture that can do even more to help conserve and protect our world’s finite freshwater resources. And that’s only the beginning. Everyone has their own unique and meaningful contribution to building a water-secure future, which is why it will take all of us to share knowledge, pursue possibilities and find new solutions that benefit us all. Because when we all come together behind a collective cause, we can build a water-secure future we all want to be part of.