Smart Agriculture

Bud Lab: Transforming Agriculture One Algorithm at a Time

Posted: October 12, 2018
Bud Lab: Transforming Agriculture One Algorithm at a Time

As climate change threatens agricultural production globally, our Bud analytics Lab develops AI algorithms to find better, more sustainable barley regions around the world.

In partnership with the University of Illinois, the Bud Lab focuses on data analytics, artificial intelligence, and innovation in order to help solve agricultural problems across our global supply chain.

The Bud Lab brings together top talent who are tasked with developing algorithms that look to determine how global weather patterns will affect the yields of barley fields. These algorithms then help us to discover the locations for more resilient barley crops - whether they are in Argentina or the U.S., and beyond. Bud Lab also develops algorithms providing field management insight for different regions based on environmental patterns and local agronomy data - this is especially useful for new barley growers who don't have experience and need a baseline in order to test and learn.

Mapping and analytics is critical as climate change continues to drive more frequent, extreme weather patterns. For example, in Brazil, over 90% of our barley crop was lost due to erratic weather patterns in 2015. With Bud Lab, we work to mitigate these serious environmental challenges.

Agricultural production needs to be sustainable and viable for the next 100 years and beyond. Investing in technology is our greatest opportunity - and that's why we launched the SmartBarley analytics program where we create value by solving direct problems for our farmers.

In fact, within our SmartBarley analytics program we look at issues such as: the fact that over 90% of our water footprint is within agriculture – which reveals the urgency of water security when looking at our 2025 Sustainability Goals. Agricultural hurdles touch so many parts of our business globally – significantly, young people are migrating in droves out of agriculture, leaving an aging farmer base, when markets lack the opportunities and infrastructure needed in order to improve farmers' skills and productivity. But we hope that our focus on technology and innovation can help change that trend.

With the SmartBarley program, more than 50 researchers and 100 agronomists manage programs that scrutinize production across 19 countries, affecting the work of around 45,000 growers globally. SmartBarley leverages data technology and insights to help farmers solve challenges, improve their productivity and environmental performance.

Shang-Jen Yang, who runs the advanced analytics program at AB InBev, reveals how, “The work we do within Bud Lab and our wider SmartBarley analytics program is driven by the belief of Growing Better Together – because it's a fact that when we share our resources and insight on agricultural production, we can better improve crop stewardship, setting a standard for the industry, and secure more resilient yields for future generations.”

Bud Lab is currently leveraging global climate data to determine what the climate will look like in 100 years' time – to help secure our beer production for the future. Interestingly, when we look at global weather patterns, research from the Lab reveals that our barley regions in Uruguay and Argentina are similar to our regions in the UK.

Shang-Jen adds: “These conclusions reveal to us how similar some weather patterns are around the world. They give us some interesting insights into how crops like barley can be farmed. While the soil types may be very different, and the seasons don't arrive at the same time, the climate may be closely linked over the course of the year.”

Determining how different regions of the world, although separated by thousands of miles, have near identical climates can be revolutionary when we're looking at how to secure a resilient barley crop that can combat climate change.

The work that our research teams do through the SmartBarley program reveals just how vital technology and a focus on analytics is to securing a sustainable future for our planet, where we can even hope to continue enjoying the beers we love.

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