Bureau of Reclamation and Anheuser-Busch Provide Real Time Data to Promote Irrigation Conservation for Southeastern Idaho Barley Growers

Apr 22, 2014, 14:00 ET from Anheuser-Busch

GRACE, Idaho, April 22, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- A pilot crop water conservation project developed by Anheuser-Busch, the Bureau of Reclamation and two state universities will mean improved water efficiency for Idaho Falls area barley growers.

Through the use of six strategically positioned weather stations, growers can now instantly access real time weather and water data on a website and via smart phone app. Access to the federal government's AgriMet weather and water data is free of charge. Crop water use data can be downloaded through the Irrigation Scheduler Mobile Application developed by Washington State University.

AgriMet is a network of agriculturally-based weather stations located throughout the Pacific Northwest and managed by the Bureau of Reclamation, a federal water management agency. In March, Reclamation installed six new AgriMet weather stations funded by Anheuser-Busch in the communities of Grace, Rigby, Ririe, Osgood, Shelley and Terreton.

Weather station data is available for use by all interested growers, including barley growers under contract with Anheuser-Busch. The project supports Anheuser-Busch InBev's long-term sustainability objective of reducing impacts across its global value chain. By the end of 2017, Anheuser-Busch InBev is committed to reducing water risks and improving water management in 100 percent of its key barley growing regions in partnership with local stakeholders, such as the Bureau of Reclamation.

According to Reclamation's AgriMet Coordinator Jama Hamel, data generated by the AgriMet stations will tell growers when and how much water to apply water to their fields.

"We expect growers using the Irrigation Scheduler to be really happy with the data from our AgriMet stations. Each station provides near real time weather data for evaporation, daily crop water usage, wind, temperature and solar exposure," she said.

By leveraging technical support and resources from the Bureau of Reclamation, University of Idaho and Washington State University, Anheuser-Busch has forged a unique partnership that aims to conserve water while assuring high standards for crop quality and certainty.

"Anheuser-Busch is committed to brewing the highest quality beers and improving our environmental performance," said Lee Keathley, vice president of Procurement for Anheuser-Busch. "We understand the importance of water conservation in our operations and across our value chain, especially in producing the raw agricultural materials with which we brew our beers."

Reducing water risks and improving water management in barley growing regions is one of the primary environmental goals of Anheuser-Busch. Grace, Idaho was identified as a water-stressed area as part of the company's global water risk assessment process.

"Growers here produce some of the highest quality barley in the world. In order to support their long-term success in water stressed areas, we need to focus on improved water management," said Tim Pella, Barley Operations Manager for Anheuser-Busch in Idaho Falls, Idaho. "We believe the AgriMet data served onto growers' phones will help improve their operations, reduce water use, and save money."

Clark Hamilton, a contract barley grower in Ririe, Idaho, is hosting an AgriMet station on his land. He says the new weather station will be a vital tool for his operation and other local growers in the coming growing season.

"Water is a valuable commodity to us and we need to manage it the best we can," he said. "We want to conserve water while improving yields."

The Irrigation Scheduler is available as a web program and an Android application. An iPhone application will be available later in 2014. In the meantime, iPhone and other smart phone users access the data at weather.wsu.edu/is.

For more information about AgriMet, visit www.usbr.gov/pn/agrimet.

For more than 160 years, Anheuser-Busch and its world-class brewmasters have carried on a legacy of brewing America's most-popular beers. Starting with the finest, all-natural ingredients sourced from Anheuser-Busch's family of growers, every batch is crafted using the same exacting standards and time-honored traditions passed down through generations of proud Anheuser-Busch brewmasters and employees. Best known for its fine American-style lagers, Budweiser and Bud Light, the company's beers lead numerous beer segments and combined hold 47.2 percent share of the U.S. beer market. Anheuser-Busch is the U.S. arm of Anheuser-Busch InBev and operates 12 local breweries, 17 distributorships and 23 agricultural and packaging facilities across the United States, representing a capital investment of more than $15.5 billion. Its flagship brewery remains in St. Louis, Mo., and is among the global company's largest and most technologically capable breweries. Visitor and special beermaster tours are available at its St. Louis and four other Anheuser-Busch breweries. For more information, visit www.anheuser-busch.com.

SOURCE Anheuser-Busch