A regenerative agriculture pilot by Guinness that focuses on the reduction of greenhouse gases is now entering its second year of circulation.

Since its launch, the pilot has recruited 44 farms across Ireland to participate, and has gathered the baseline data to “accurately track the impact”.

According to the Diageo-owned brand, the footprint of growing spring barley across its participating farms is lower than other international studies of this carbon footprint and almost three quarters is from the use of nitrogen (N) fertilizer.

Guinness Pilot Project

The company sowed cover crops last autumn to protect the land on which its barley is grown. Guinness claimed it has been able to see this has absorbed a significant amount of nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium “that would usually go into water, but is now able to be recycled into the next crop”.

Guinness said that the data was reviewed by soil scientist Neil Fuller of Future Food Solutions, who says “the baseline numbers are very impressive”.

“The pilot farmers are doing a fantastic job as custodians of the land, building on firm soil foundations laid by previous generations," Fuller says. “Irish farmers are producing barley with excellent yield and quality with a low carbon footprint, and still there is tremendous potential to further reduce emissions. But this is only half the story. All the baseline metrics demonstrate that Irish soils are in great health.”

Vanessa Maire, global head of regenerative agriculture at Diageo also commented on the pilot project. 

“We now have the ability to analyze 44 different farms and share learnings and best practice," Maire says. "This will give farmers a fantastic opportunity to reduce emissions without compromising yield or quality, while at the same time removing carbon from the atmosphere.”

Guinness said the next project milestone includes “examining how fertilizer selection can reduce emissions and the establishment of baseline biodiversity measurements for birds and pollinators”.

The company added that listening devices will be placed on selected farms that will record the sounds from birds and pollinators. The sounds will be analyzed to determine the number of species on the farm. It hopes to achieve a reduction of 30% in the greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions of a spring barley production during the pilot.

In February, 2022, Guinness launched its regenerative pilot to work sustainably with farmers who grow the barley for its drinks.

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