The Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA) has described the launch of the Diageo Regenerative Agriculture Pilot as a “positive development”. 

More than 130,000t of Irish barley are used in the production of Guinness each year. Ireland has been selected as the location for a three-year barley pilot, parent company Diageo announced today (Wednesday, February 23).

Chairperson of the IFA Grain Committee, Kieran McEvoy said: “The Irish tillage sector has one of the lowest carbon footprints in Irish agriculture and this programme will assess and examine regenerative agriculture techniques which will further improve the tillage sector’s environmental and sustainability credentials.

“Farm-based programmes such as this pilot by Diageo will play an important role in improving knowledge of soil health, biodiversity and the potential for carbon sequestration on the selected tillage farms.

“IFA looks forward to discussing the measures and results with Diageo in due course,” he added.

“Cooperation between tillage farmers, grain merchants such as Cooney Furlong, Boortmalt and key end users like Diageo, is vital in addressing the sustainability challenges ahead, and pilots such as this one further enhances the Irish malting, milling and roasting barley supply chain.”

Regenerative agriculture pilot

Involving at least 40 Irish farms initially in 2022 – across spring and winter barley sowing – a number of carbon-reducing barley production opportunities will be highlighted.

Key outcomes of this, according to the company, are expected to include:

  • Improvements in soil health and its carbon sequestration potential;
  • Enhanced biodiversity;
  • Reduction in synthetic fertiliser use;
  • Enhanced water quality;
  • Improved farmer livelihoods.

Guinness will work in collaboration with Irish farmers and suppliers including Boortmalt, Glanbia and Comex McKinnon, to understand the most effective regenerative practices, adapted to the specific needs of Irish barley production.