Find News

Anheuser-Busch Debuts SmartBarley Benchmarking Program to Generate Higher Yields

SAINT LOUIS (July 18, 2014) – SmartBarley, a barley benchmarking program developed by Anheuser-Busch, will mean higher yields and increased water efficiency for barley growers. The initiative is part of the global beer company’s efforts to develop a more robust supply chain by supporting its network of barley growers.

“SmartBarley creates shared value between our growers and Anheuser-Busch,” said Russ Harville, senior director of raw material procurement. “Growers benefit from knowledge-sharing that translates into increased crop productivity and efficient water use, while strengthening Anheuser-Busch’s sustainable, high-quality supply of malting barley.

This year, SmartBarley, is incorporating data and best practice sharing from more than 1,900 malt barley growers worldwide so they can compare their crop performance to others’ in their region and globally through advanced productivity and key environmental performance indicators. The expanded pilot initiative begins this summer and is making its U.S. debut at Grower Field Day festivities in the barley-producing regions of Idaho Falls, Idaho and Conrad, Montana.

The benchmarking program includes indicators such as irrigation water productivity, nitrogen use efficiency, yield realization and various soil health parameters. This information allows Anheuser-Busch and its growers to work in partnership to more reliably produce and deliver different varieties of malt barley that support established brands, while bringing barley-based beer innovations more quickly to the market.

SmartBarley was first piloted in 2013 with 341 growers across 7 countries. It has since grown to include growers in the U.S., Canada, Mexico, Argentina, Uruguay, Brazil, Russia and China, with a development agenda that further enhances the system and adds even greater value to growers. Initial feedback from early pilots has been positive and the company is developing robust mechanisms for collecting and incorporating feedback from participating growers later this year.

SmartBarley is also smart business, for Anheuser-Busch and its growers. In 2013, the company completed a robust water assessment in key barley regions – identifying local water availability and water quality concerns, mapping relevant stakeholders for potential partnerships, and developing locally tailored pilot initiatives that improve water management.

“A reliable supply of malting barley is strategically critical to our business, and working with growers to minimize water-related risks ensures we can continue to deliver great beers to our consumers, today and into the future,” said Lee Keathley, vice president of procurement.

SmartBarley will be used as a measurement tool for the effectiveness of one of these initiatives – AgriMet, also on display at the Idaho Falls grower days. This spring, Anheuser-Busch purchased six AgriMet weather stations located in Southeast Idaho to arm barley growers with vital water conservation data. AgriMet‘s weather stations collect and report weather data necessary for computing evapotranspiration (ET). When linked to an irrigation scheduler program via the web or mobile application, growers can access AgriMet data to better monitor crop water use, precipitation and soil conditions. They can reduce the amount of water used in irrigation and decide exactly when and how much to irrigate.

“AgriMet can not only help growers conserve their water, but it can increase yields and improve crop quality and save pumping  costs, “ says Jama Hamel, AgriMet Program Coordinator, Bureau of Reclamation. .

Another example of water conservation is found in the company’s Global Barley Research Program based in Fort Collins, Colorado, which has created barley varieties that produce the highest quality and best yields, while using less water and tolerating drought and other extreme weather conditions. In Southern Idaho, Anheuser-Busch uses specially adapted winter barley varieties that require 25% less water than regular varieties, which can reduce irrigation water applied by more than 1.5 billion liters of water during one growing season.

Working in step with AgriMet and Global Barley Research, SmartBarley is helping growers improve their barley yields while supporting Anheuser-Busch’s commitment of reducing water risks and improving water management in 100 percent of its key barley growing regions by the end of 2017 in partnership with local stakeholders.

ABOUT ANHEUSER-BUSCH

For more than 160 years, Anheuser-Busch and its world-class brewmasters have carried on a legacy of brewing America’s most-popular beers. Starting with the finest, all-natural ingredients sourced from Anheuser-Busch’s family of growers, every batch is crafted using the same exacting standards and time-honored traditions passed down through generations of proud Anheuser-Busch brewmasters and employees. Best known for its fine American-style lagers, Budweiser and Bud Light, the company’s beers lead numerous beer segments and combined hold 47.2 percent share of the U.S. beer market. Anheuser-Busch is the U.S. arm of Anheuser-Busch InBev and operates 12 local breweries, 17 distributorships and 23 agricultural and packaging facilities across the United States, representing a capital investment of more than $15.5 billion. Its flagship brewery remains in St. Louis, Mo., and is among the global company’s largest and most technologically capable breweries. Visitor and special beermaster tours are available at its St. Louis and four other Anheuser-Busch breweries. For more information, visit www.anheuser-busch.com.