Leadership Outside the Lines Series: Tackling Tough Challenges for Farmers and Our Planet

By: Holly Butka | October 11, 2018

Bayer

In this special blog series, we are featuring stories from our 2018 Net Impact Conference partners about how individuals at their organizations are going outside the lines to make an impact from any position. Bayer is a sponsor of the upcoming 2018 Net Impact Conference in Phoenix, AZ October 25-27th. 

Our planet faces some big challenges. Climate change, increasing population, water scarcity and pollution are a few of them. I work on a team uniquely positioned to invent real solutions to these big challenges. I have that opportunity because I work in agriculture, one of the world’s most important – and increasingly technologically advanced – industries. Agricultural scientists and farmers around the world are making real progress toward identifying and implementing solutions that promise to help preserve our environment while allowing the growing population access to safe, healthy and affordable food.  Being a part of that is what motivates me every single day!

My great-grandmother was only 3 years old in 1885 when her family homesteaded in Nebraska. At that time, farming was the only way to survive. The soil was not only where all the food emerged, it was also the building blocks of the family’s sod house. The entire family worked full-time on the farm, just like virtually all their neighbors. 

A century later, when I was in high school, the land had been handed down for a few generations and my family still made our living by farming. However, the methods we used were much more automated. We were fortunate to use tractors to pull large planters and harvesters instead of the ox and horse-drawn equipment used by my ancestors. And now, 30+ years down the road, the tools used on my family’s farm have continued to evolve in ways that provide increased sustainability of the land.

Today, we use computerized field maps that show how soil types or plant health change across each field. This data helps us precisely determine how much water, nutrients, or management our crops need at any stage of growth. The maps are connected to weather station data to ensure natural rainfall is accounted for. We rely on seed and crop protection providers to add and/or utilize data in the system to help us make educated choices on which crops, hybrids/varieties, fertility, and disease management practices should be utilized in each field. Each piece of this modern agriculture technology helps farmers like my family maximize efficiency to reduce agriculture’s impact on the environment.

Now, as the Global Consumer Engagement Lead at Bayer, I take great pride in my work both on and off the fields. I know that I am helping to ensure that my children inherit a planet that has the potential to feed the generations to come. If you have an interest in data science, soil science, business management, chemistry, biotechnology, entomology or plant science—agriculture is a great field to find your passion and help feed a growing world and sustain a healthy environment!

If you are attending the Conference in Phoenix, please stop by the Bayer sponsor booth and say hello.  My colleagues and I would love to show you some of the amazing technologies being used by farmers around the world to sustainably produce that food that you enjoy!

Learn more about Bayer’s work at the 2018 Net Impact Conference.

Holly Butka

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