Anheuser-Busch barley growers have new neighbors – and those farmers are in China, Brazil and France. SmartBarley, a global barley bench marking program, rolled out in Conrad, Mont. and Idaho Falls, Idaho on July 17-18 as part of annual Grower Field Day events.
More than 500 local growers and their families enjoyed a BBQ lunch, took tours of barley malting facilities and crop test plots, saw demonstrations of growing and brewing processes, and were introduced to the expanded SmartBarley pilot, which aims to generate higher crop yields while increasing water efficiency.
For life-long growers like Idaho Falls-based Justin Place, technology is quickly changing what farming looks like today. From GPS-enabled tractors to irrigation prediction tools like AgriMet, technology is becoming embedded in farming and allowing growers to work smarter and more efficiently.
SmartBarley allows farmers to compare their crop performance to others’ locally and globally, in a confidential and secure setting. Barley farmers can freely share best practices to determine which malt barley grows best under what conditions. For Anheuser-Busch this ultimately is developing a more robust supply chain that ensures high-quality barley for all of the established beer brands – and even new ones!
“SmartBarley creates shared value and lasting partnerships,” said Alan Slater, Director of North America Barley Operations, Anheuser-Busch. “Anheuser-Busch is strengthening relationships with its growers and helping ensure a sustainable supply of high-quality barley. This pilot is a first step in generating interest and participation in a program that will ultimately prove to be a good investment for everyone involved.”
As part of the company’s overarching sustainability goals, SmartBarley and AgriMetare 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.