Guinness has announced a three-year barley-growing pilot with a focus on regenerative agriculture. The farm-based programme will work with farmers and look at ways to reduce carbon emissions from barley production.

Some of the key measures under examination are soil health improvement and the potential to improve carbon sequestration, improving biodiversity, reduced fertiliser use, improved water quality and, ultimately, an improved livelihood for the farmer.

Forty farmers will participate in the programme in 2022 and this number is expected to increase. Guinness will also assemble technical partners, agronomists and suppliers, including Boortmalt, Glanbia and Comex McKinnon.

'Exciting area'

Minister for Agriculture Charlie McConalogue TD said: “On behalf of the Government, I welcome the pilot announced today by Guinness. "This pilot shows the importance of sectors working together to reduce emissions. It is welcome that one of Ireland’s most iconic brands is taking a strong leadership position on farming and the environment, as we all work towards reducing carbon emissions and meeting our ambitious but necessary climate change targets.

"Delivering on the three pillars of sustainability – environmental, social and economic – is a key priority of mine and is core to the Food Vision 2030 strategy I am implementing. I look forward to the roll-out of the programme and continued engagement with Guinness on its progress.”

Delivering on the three pillars of sustainability – environmental, social and economic – is a key priority of mine

Walter Furlong Junior is one of the farmers involved in the pilot.

"We’re delighted to be partnering with Guinness on this programme," he said.

"The great thing about regenerative agriculture is the simplicity of the approach. It’s not a complicated process - it works in harmony with nature while providing a commercial benefit for farmers.

"We already use regenerative agricultural practices and have seen a marked improvement in the quality of the soil on our farm. It is a highly effective approach that leads to much better outcomes.”

Diageo Europe president John Kennedy explained: “This pilot is the first such programme being implemented by Diageo and the outcomes will help inform other potential opportunities, not just in Ireland, but in other countries where we source raw materials.

“We will openly share the results from the pilot programme, so that other farms can learn and adopt practices that have demonstrated the highest potential impact from an environmental and farm profitability standpoint.

"Like the Irish farming community, we are ‘all in’ for the long haul – for our people, products, partners and planet. At St James’s Gate, we are only 263 years into our 9,000-year lease and we will never settle in pursuit of a more sustainable future.”