UK – Diageo, the maker of Don Julio tequila and Guinness, is piloting two regenerative agriculture programs in Scotland and Mexico in line with its goal of achieving 50% reduction in absolute scope 3 GHG emissions by 2030. 

According to a report by Just Food, the new program is targeting wheat and barley grown in Scotland and Mexican agave farming. 

Through the implementation of these two programs, Diageo aims to enhance biodiversity, improve water stewardship, reduce carbon emissions, and manage soil health more effectively.  

This will be achieved by adopting locally adapted practices such as covering crops, reduced cultivation, and crop rotations. 

In Mexico, the tequila regenerative agriculture pilot seeks to leverage local knowledge on agave regenerative practices and explore the plant’s ability to sequester carbon over a 6-year growth cycle. 

Additionally, these programs aim to lower carbon emissions and enhance supply resilience, particularly in the climate-vulnerable region of Jalisco, Mexico, by improving soil health. 

On the other hand, the Scottish program , encompassing Johnnie Walker, Singleton, and Talisker, will focus on emissions reduction during the cultivation of barley and wheat. 

The first leg of the Scottish programme involves 20 farms and will involve trial of “locally adapted practices” including cover crops, reduced cultivations and crop rotations. 

Ewan Andrew, Diageo’s Chief Sustainability Officer, expressed enthusiasm about expanding their regenerative farming efforts beyond the existing Guinness program in Ireland as part of their commitment to long-term business growth. 

Vanessa Maire, Diageo’s global head of regenerative agriculture, emphasized that these programs would bolster farming system resilience and ensure the long-term availability of high-quality barley and wheat.  

Both scotch and tequila programs will empower farmers with knowledge and resilience to adapt their practices in response to climate change and are being delivered in collaboration with agriculture and soil carbon experts, including Agricarbon and James Hutton Limited.  

Agricarbon will assist Diageo in establishing baselines for soil carbon content and tracking changes over time in different geographic contexts.  

Meanwhile, James Hutton Limited will investigate how regenerative farming practices can enhance soil structure, biological activity, and water retention in the Scotch program. 

Annie Leeson, CEO and Co-Founder of Agricarbon, stressed the importance of building knowledge and understanding of raw materials across Diageo’s supply chain to reduce emissions and monitor carbon changes in diverse farming systems. 

Diageo joins other alcohol giants, such as Anheuser-Busch, which donated US$530,000 in 2020 to four US land grant universities for model farms focused on research in soil health, irrigation efficiency, and regenerative practices to advance sustainable agriculture.  

Similarly, the Molson Coors Brewing Company has invested over US$20 million in the past decade in its Better Barley, Better Beer program.  

This initiative helps barley growers comprehend the impact of weather conditions on crops and adopt more sustainable practices by installing weather stations and soil moisture probes on barley farms in Montana, Idaho, Wyoming, and Colorado.