Today, Diageo announces the launch of a regenerative agriculture programme based in Scotland that is focused on reducing the carbon emissions associated with producing barley and wheat for Scotch whisky brands such as Johnnie Walker, Singleton and Talisker.
Regenerative agriculture is a holistic approach to farming that works in harmony with the natural environment. It uses the best agricultural advice to produce crops, while also, delivering beneficial outcomes for soil health, climate, water and nature.
The long-term availability of quality barley and wheat is essential to the production of Scotch whisky. Using more regenerative techniques to grow these crops will help build supply resilience in the face of a changing climate and help to protect the sourcing landscapes of our iconic brands in Scotland.
Working closely with two of Scotland’s largest independent providers of agricultural and sustainability advice, Scottish Agronomy and SAC Consulting, the programme will focus on two areas. Firstly, the programme will aim to work with approximately 20 farms in key barley and wheat sourcing regions across Scotland for Diageo. The farms will be recruited into groups, where they can work closely with the programme’s technical partners, share learnings, and together advance locally suitable regenerative agricultural interventions. Secondly, the programme will also commission plot scale research trials, to ensure our overall approach is science led, and so that findings can be shared with confidence with the wider industry.
The overall programme will start by surveying the recruited farms to understand the main sources of carbon emissions and the findings will inform the future development of the programme.
Nuno Teles, Managing Director Diageo GB, commented: “Today’s announcement demonstrates our commitment to expanding our regenerative agriculture pilots across more of our key markets and key categories. We know we need to farm in a more sustainable way to protect the land around us, increase the sustainability of our business and enhance farmer livelihoods. We’re looking forward to seeing the results and sharing these with the wider Scotch whisky industry.”
Vanessa Maire, Global Head of Regenerative Agriculture Diageo, commented: “It was wonderful to be in Scotland to meet our scientific partners and to visit one of the farms that will take part in this exciting programme. We look forward to working with stakeholders across Scotland to help build resilience across farming systems and ensure long-term availability of quality barley and wheat by using regenerative techniques, to ultimately achieve our common goal of building a sustainable future for our industry.”
Dr. Kenneth Loades, Soil Biophysicist, James Hutton Limited, commented: “We are excited to be working alongside Diageo in this programme to understand the importance of soil health and the role that innovative farm management can play in securing it. This project offers a fantastic opportunity for the whole value chain including processors, farmers, and scientists to understand current soil health on the journey towards addressing the global challenges facing soils and the wider environment.”
Duncan Wilson, Farm Manager at Strathmore Farming Company said: “We know that healthy soils are the foundation of our farm business and that’s why we’ve been testing different methods over the last decade to improve soil health and reduce our reliance on costly inputs. We are excited to be involved in this project and work with leading scientists and other farmers to find new solutions that work for our business and the environment.”
The outcomes of the regenerative agriculture programme are expected to contribute to a reduction in Diageo’s scope 3 carbon emissions as outlined in its 10-year ESG action plan, Society 2030: Spirit of Progress. The programme forms part of Diageo’s investment of £1 billion into developing a low-carbon world. Key data and learnings from the programme will be shared with the wider food and beverage sector to demonstrate that regenerative solutions can help reduce emissions associated to farming and contribute to climate mitigation and adaptation strategies.