AWS for Industries

Bayer Project Carbonview: Tracing Product Carbon Footprint (PCF) through the agriculture supply chain

Here at AWS we are incorporating sustainability measures in our business to deliver on Amazon’s commitment to building a sustainable business for our customers and the planet. In 2019, Amazon co-founded The Climate Pledge—a commitment to be net zero carbon across our business by 2040, 10 years ahead of the Paris Agreement. Similar to our efforts, sustainability goals and commitments are being made in many industries, including the agriculture industry. In order to meet these sustainability priorities organizations are implementing applications and systems to measure and monitor carbon emissions data so they can manage reaching their goals.

Bayer, a global enterprise with core competencies in the life science fields of health care and nutrition, is also committed to drive sustainable development and generate a positive impact with its businesses. Last week, Bayer announced a new initiative called Project Carbonview, a supply chain carbon tracking application, built and powered by AWS.

Bayer came to AWS to discuss how to track carbon emissions through the value chain from farmer to end purchaser of agricultural goods. Companies purchasing crops for downstream processing have limited visibility into the carbon footprint of their supply chain (categorized as Scope 3 emissions by the Greenhouse Gas Protocol) and are often forced to make estimates based on crude averages and outdated reports. Even in those instances where emissions are accurately captured in one part of the supply chain, these attributes are often lost at the next transition point (for example, from grower to delivery) due to limited interoperability between systems used by growers, transportation companies, and downstream purchasers. Bayer initiated a project to solve for this Scope 3 tracking challenge in the agriculture value chain. With support from the AWS Professional Services Global Sustainability Practice and the AWS Digital Innovation Program, (a global team of experts that help businesses realize their desired outcomes on AWS) Bayer and Bayer’s partner Bushel, went through the Amazon Working Backwards process.

The Working Backwards process is an Amazon innovation process which starts with a focus on the customer to identify issues and pain points and works from there to create the solution. For Bayer and Bushel, the Working Backwards process resulted in defining a solution to trace the carbon intensity of agriproducts as they move through the supply chain, unifying the carbon data from seed to processing. The solution is designed to meet four objectives:

  1. Help farmers evaluate the impact of climate-smart agriculture practices
  2. Assist downstream customers to make informed purchasing and sustainability investment decisions
  3. Create differentiated products at the point of sale
  4. Aid in regulatory and climate target reporting

AWS Professional Services consultants collaborated with Bayer and Bushel to translate the Working Backwards vision into a technical requirement, define the customer experience, and identify appropriate data sources and formats, resulting in an architecture for the project.

This led to a 10-week build phase with the AWS Professional Services Global Sustainability Practice team creating wire frames to design the user experience and build out the frontend web interface and backend solution on AWS. This process culminated in the development and deployment of Bayer’s announcement of Project Carbonview.

Watch the Bayer Project Carbonview video

Overview of Bayer Project Carbonview

Bayer Project Carbonview will be implemented with U.S. corn producers during the 2022 growing season, with plans to expand the program to other global regions and commodities (such as other crops) in the future. The first release of the solution will compute the carbon footprint of corn through the supply chain to ethanol facilities. The solution captures the estimated carbon footprint associated with corn grown on the farm and combines it with the computed carbon footprint from the transportation of the corn from farm to the ethanol facility.

Project Carbonview is built on AWS using serverless services, such as Lambda, which offers advantages such as pay-as-you-go pricing and scalability, with the added benefit of being a managed service. A simplified diagram of the overall architecture can be seen below.

The details of how data flows through the value chain and how it is captured in the Project Carbonview application is outlined below.

Grain Seller Experience

When a farmer harvests corn it is transported to a buyer’s facility. Upon delivery, a scale ticket is generated which contains details about the load of grain such as weight, volume, and the seller’s information. Bushel works with grain buyers to automate the generation of scale tickets when a delivery of grain is completed and offers integrations with 3rd parties for ingestion into other software such as enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems. Step 1 above shows scale tickets generated at the ethanol facility being delivered to the Project Carbonview solution.

After completion of the first step, Project Carbonview has a record of the corn delivery but does not yet know the field where the grain was grown. To facilitate this connection, Project Carbonview presents the farmer with a web interface which allows the farmer to match which of their fields produced the grain contained in each delivery. This is shown in step 2 above.

Project Carbonview then uses the scale ticket and field information to calculate the carbon footprint with that delivery of corn. This step is marked as 3 above. Through an integration with Bayer Crop Science’s Carbon Cloud, the Project Carbonview solution is able to request a calculation of carbon associated with growing and harvesting the corn. Transportation carbon emissions are calculated using the route distance between the farm to ethanol producer. Total carbon is calculated by summing the results of production and transportation. The result for each delivery can be seen by the farmer for visibility into how their agricultural practices affect the carbon emission changes.

Grain Buyer Experience

The end goal of Project Carbonview is to present grain buyers, ethanol producers in this case, visibility into their Scope 3 emissions. Project Carbonview provides reports and raw data to buyers in step 4 above. Buyers have the ability to request reports from deliveries over a desired time range, and can optionally aggregate by the seller (farmer). This enables them to gain insights into the carbon footprint of their value chain and drive future purchasing decisions.

Project Carbonview outcomes for the Bayer agriculture value chain

In the near-term, Project Carbonview will be used to gather feedback from grain buyers and sellers and to prove out the expansion of this solution to other agri-products. This new solution marks the latest development within the Bayer Carbon Initiative, a program which incentivizes the adoption of climate-smart practices, creating new revenue streams for growers who use technology and adopt agronomic practices to reduce the carbon footprint of their crops.

AWS enables sustainability  with  AWS service and technologies

The AWS Professional Services Global Sustainability Practice can help customers build and implement solutions using AWS services to help reach their sustainability goals. The AWS Professional Services Global Sustainability Practice is a group of consultants including former Chief Sustainability Officers (CSOs) and sustainability industry experts who help AWS customers build long-term sustainability strategies, coupled with sustainability technologists who can architect and build solutions on AWS. The team has helped customers with their sustainability journeys through projects in various domains such as: carbon measurement and reporting, sustainable building management, sustainable packaging, and cold chain.

Find out more about how AWS enables sustainability solutions at 

John Rotach

John Rotach

John is a Senior Application Architect working in the Sustainability Global Specialty Practice in AWS Professional Services. He has been with professional services for 4 years helping customers architect and build IoT and sustainability applications on AWS. Prior to joining professional services John was a software development engineer who helped to build the AWS IoT service.

David Johnsen

David Johnsen

David is a Senior Sustainability Application Architect with AWS Professional Services with a Ph.D. in Environmental Engineering. He helps AWS customers achieve their sustainability business goals by architecting and building innovative solutions on AWS. His focus is on using AWS services to help customers across industries to measure and reduce their carbon emissions from their own business operations.