Indigo Agriculture, a company dedicated to harnessing nature to help farmers sustainably feed the planet, and Anheuser-Busch, the country’s leading brewer, today announced the results of their effort to produce rice grown with specific environmental attributes. The resource and emissions savings achieved in the inaugural year of the program significantly outpaced the targets set forth when the partnership was first announced, demonstrating the opportunity to drive on-farm environmental responsibility, validate and de-risk specific conservation practices, and reward growers for their efforts. Growers who contracted with Indigo to produce rice for Anheuser-Busch achieved:
- An average decrease of 23.7% water use compared to historical county averages, totaling over 2 billion gallons or enough to supply the city of Jonesboro, Arkansas – where Anheuser-Busch’s rice mill is based – for one year.
- An average reduction of 13.3% in nitrogen application, or nearly 250,000 pounds, the equivalent of ten tractor trailers.
- An average reduction of 26.6% in emissions of methane, a key greenhouse gas equivalent to 5,296 metric tons of carbon dioxide or the annual emissions of 1,151 passenger vehicles.
By leveraging Indigo’s portfolio of offerings – including yield increases through the use of Indigo’s microbial products, conservation management practices through agronomic support, and the efficient transaction and delivery of grain through Indigo Marketplace™ and Indigo Transport™ – the partnership offered growers an end-to-end solution to support the commercial production of sustainable rice. Additionally, the methods by which Indigo measured on-farm environmental savings in support of Anheuser-Busch’s 2025 Sustainability Goals lay the foundation for the company’s efforts to create additional income streams for growers through the abatement and sequestration of on-farm emissions with Indigo Carbon.
“Our partnership with Anheuser-Busch is an example of the potential of a decommoditized agriculture system to deliver value for growers and the environment while expanding consumer choice,” says David Perry, Indigo’s CEO. “We’re looking forward to expanding our partnership alongside Anheuser-Busch to meet consumer demand for climate positive products while bringing significant economic opportunities to America’s farming communities.”
“Anheuser-Busch is proud to partner with Indigo and Arkansas rice farmers to bring this industry leading program to life,” says Jess Newman, Senior Director of Agricultural Procurement & Sustainability at Anheuser-Busch. “We are thrilled with the environmental results the Indigo growers achieved, which advance three of our 2025 sustainability goals: smart agriculture, watershed health, and carbon emissions. We are excited to continue exploring ways to deliver choices to both our growers and consumers.”
The first of its kind project coupled data-driven insights and on-farm agronomic counsel to assist Indigo Rice™ growers in adopting proven conservation practices (alternate wetting and drying and optimized nitrogen application), in many cases for the first time. The cost reductions associated with decreased water and fertilizer use from these beneficial growing practices, coupled with a price premium to reflect the specialty attributes associated with how the grain was produced, significantly improved growers’ profitability, reinforcing the effectiveness of a systems approach to de-commoditizing agriculture.
“We’re proud to be a part of this partnership with Indigo and Anheuser-Busch to sustainably produce rice. During the last growing season, we reduced input costs and earned a premium for the rice we grew for this program, overall increasing the farm’s profitability,” says Nolan Evans, a grower in Arkansas who participated in the program. “I’m excited to see what we can accomplish together in 2020.”
“Indigo is committed to ensuring growers receive the individualized support needed to successfully adopt new and beneficial practices,” says Cody Corbell, Indigo’s General Manager, Rice. “Doing so enables a market for sustainably grown rice and rewards our farming community for their critical role in preserving our natural resources.”
Anheuser-Busch is the largest end user of rice in the United States. The brewer first started using the prized ingredient in 1876, when Adolphus Busch first added it to Budweiser to add a clean, crisp taste and set the brew apart from other lagers. Today, the company mills approximately 2.6 million pounds of rice a day at its facility in Jonesboro, Arkansas, where Evans’s crop and that of the other participating growers will be delivered. Earlier this month, Indigo transported more than 53,000 bushels of rice for an Identity Preserved Beer Day. The milling experiment – an extension of the partnership and a first for the nation’s largest end user of rice – entailed calibrating the facility to a single variety of grain, allowing further insights into the energy, time, and cost savings potential of an optimized milling process.
Following the success of the pilot, Indigo Ag and Anheuser-Busch have extended their partnership through the 2020 growing season, this time expanding the scope of the program to nearly 2.7M bushels and broadening its pool of participating growers. In the second phase, Indigo will also experiment with advanced data collection methods and remote-sensing technology such as drones, water sensors, and a mobile app to automate and enhance the project’s data collection efforts and further optimize the sustainable production of rice.
Additional information about the partnership, including enrollment information for the 2020 growing season, can be found here.