Swinkels Family Brewers aims to enhance soil and reduce CO2 footprint for brewing barley with the use of seaweed extract.

Swinkels Family Brewers, following a successful initial test on its own barley fields, is launching a pilot project using seaweed extract as a biological growth stimulant for its brewing barley. Across three locations, a total of six hectares of brewing barley will be treated with the biostimulant, aiming to increase barley yield, reduce water usage, and enhance soil carbon absorption and sequestration. The pilot is conducted in collaboration with Holland Malt malting company, The Seaweed Company, and two farmers associated with the Boer Bier Water initiative.

Earlier this year, a test using seaweed extract on the barley field of Bavaria Brewery yielded positive results, prompting the expansion of the pilot. In collaboration with two local farmers near Bavaria Brewery, six hectares of brewing barley are being sprayed with the natural seaweed extract. Results from the pilot are continuously monitored through soil moisture meters and soil samples. The biostimulant is expected to enrich the soil, increase carbon absorption, enhance barley resistance to plant diseases, and reduce the amount of water needed for barley cultivation.

A New Step in Circular Ambitions

Marthijn Junggeburth, Sustainability Manager at Swinkels Family Brewers, remarks: “At our family company, we think not in years but in generations. Therefore, it is important for us to consider the long term and invest in sustainable initiatives. The first test with The Seaweed Company on our own barley field was promising, leading us to expand the pilot. We partnered with two farmers who have been growing brewing barley for us for many years. I am very pleased that we are undertaking this pilot together and exploring the potential impact we can make. The use of this bio growth stimulant can reduce our CO2 footprint and contribute to our circularity goals.”

Theo Vilier, one of the participating farmers, comments: “We see that years of intensive agriculture have depleted our soils of essential minerals for plants, and we have become more dependent on chemical substances for our harvest. We want to change that, but we are still exploring. Through Boer Bier Water, we have been collaborating with Swinkels Family Brewers for many years, focusing on initiatives to improve soil and groundwater quality. This pilot seamlessly aligns with that. Hopefully, by using TopHealth Plants, we can better balance the various elements in the soil, making our brewing barley less susceptible to diseases. The knowledge from Swinkels Family Brewers and the involvement of The Seaweed Company give us a lot of confidence in this pilot.”

Joost Wouters, SeaEO at The Seaweed Company, states: “We are naturally very excited about the collaboration with Swinkels Family Brewers around our Blue Farming concept. Seaweed has many valuable applications that contribute to crop and soil health, and we look forward to taking significant steps in sustainable agriculture together with Swinkels Family Brewers and making an impact on CO2 reduction. We guide the farmers by conducting regular tests on their soil and crops.”

Involvement of Holland Malt

If the pilot results are favorable, it would further support the circularity goals of Holland Malt. The malting company holds a central position in the barley-to-beer chain, and the CO2 footprint of malt and beer is significantly influenced by barley cultivation. The cultivation of brewing barley with this biostimulant could potentially improve the entire chain.

About TopHealth Plants

TopHealth Plants is a biostimulant from The Seaweed Company that consists of various organic extracts, with seaweed comprising the majority. It contains all the essential plant hormones needed by the plant, aiding faster growth and increased yield. TopHealth Plants helps the soil absorb more organic carbon than synthetic fertilizers, thereby sequestering additional CO2 in the soil. Additionally, it enhances plant resilience against factors such as drought, frost, floods, and pathogens while increasing the water-holding capacity of the soil. This results in reduced water requirements for growing brewing barley.