Diageo sees positive impact of regen agriculture

Climate-sensitive farming is an important element of Diageo’s sustainability planning. With 30 percent of its Scope 3 emissions coming from agriculture, the beverage company is introducing a number of ambitious regenerative agriculture programmes with its wheat and barley producers to improve resilience and reduce emissions.

Andy Griffiths, Head of Sustainable Procurement at Diageo, is a speaker on the REAP Supply Chain panel, and ahead of the conference we asked him about these projects.

Quantifying the impact of regenerative farming on soil carbon

The first phase of the Scottish programme will focus on approximately 20 farms in three key barley and wheat sourcing regions. It aims to support a reduction in scope 3 carbon-emissions as part of Diageo’s 10-year ESG action plan.

AgriCarbon will help Diageo build the baselines of how much carbon the soil currently holds and track soil carbon changes over time across both geographic contexts, while James Hutton Limited will investigate how regenerative farming practices can improve soil structure, biological activity and water retention rate.

Andy says: “We are still in the early stages of the project in Scotland, we are however leveraging the learnings from our Guinness programme in Ireland to inform this project and using one of our key technical partners, AgriCarbon, to build deeper insight into soil carbon levels and rates of change.

“Many of the GHG emissions benefits from regenerative agriculture come from aspects such as reduced fuel usage and chemical inputs. These can be assessed through farmer reporting and modelling,

“While practice based modelling can be a useful first step in determining soil carbon, we are working with AgriCarbon to conduct physical sampling and analysis of the fields involved.

Andy Griffiths, Diageo

Promising findings

“AgriCarbon’s solution is more cost efficient than traditional soil sampling and analysis, but there is still a need to further reduce costs and the invasive nature of sampling. This will help to scale farmer uptake and assess the performance of different regenerative agriculture interventions, more efficiently.

“Changes in soil carbon can take a number of years to measure confidently and credibly, the measurement processes we are using are enabling us to assess directional comparisons.

“Based on recent assessments, it would appear that the practices deployed by the farmers engaging in this programme are having a positive effect.”

Co-funding farmers to implement regen agriculture

Andy is also involved in the Landscape Enterprise Networks (LENS) model. Its focus is to enable organisations with a dependency on a landscape, to collaborate with farmers and land managers and co-fund regenerative agriculture interventions.

This will support landscape transformation, and is not limited to organisations within the agri-food chain. Others – such as the leisure and hospitality sector – who have a dependency on the landscape, will also be able to collaborate.

He explains: “The LENS model is outcome focussed. It puts farmers, land managers and communities at the centre of decision making, enabling them to identify what they need in order to deliver the outcomes identified by the funders.

“By creating a ‘green commerce’ model, LENS enables funds to flow into and within the landscape and associated communities.

“This approach enables organisations to address the dependencies and impacts they have within their value chains (insetting / within value chain mitigation), in an efficient and scalable manner.

“The East of England programme is a great example of LENs in action and is continuing to grow in scale and impact, providing insights from which the other LENs programmes can leverage.”

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REAP Conference 2023:
Adaptation Through Innovation; Beyond the Comfort Zone

Wednesday 8th November, 9:30 am – 6:30 pm
Rowley Mile Conference Centre, Newmarket

Surviving and thriving under increasingly extreme and unpredictable challenges is the theme of the 2023 REAP conference. To build a productive, profitable and sustainable agri-food industry, we must move away from the comfort zone and become open to the new opportunities that exist when we ‘stretch’.  Be a part of that future – bring yourself and your ideas to REAP.


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This post originally appeared on TechToday.

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