Beer Makers Target Precise Fertilizer Application

Louisiana rice field. ( LSU AgCenter )

Sentera, a technology company that provides agronomic insights, is partnering with Anheuser-Busch to improve nitrogen usage among growers. The pair will focus on nitrogen demands in rice production, which is critical for beer.

“While currently there are ways to systematically manage nitrogen demand, this solution enables us to get a baseline for the field, recommend a rate and closely monitor plant health throughout the growing season to modify additional applications accordingly,” said Zach Marston, principle scientist at Sentera in a recent press release. “Ultimately, this empowers us to make adaptive decisions regarding nitrogen applications and management.”

Anheuser-Busch’s agronomy team will use Sentera’s technology to make field-level nutrient and nitrogen prescriptions. They’ll target high yields, while maintaining responsible nitrogen programs.

One issue rice growers can run into with nitrogen is “luxuriant” growth—a phenomenon that occurs when too much fertilizer is applied to the grass. When this happens, the crop is more susceptible to disease, stem strength is reduced and the crop can lodge. In addition, the excess nitrogen doesn’t add any yield, it just costs money and can harm the environment through leeching and denitrification.

“We are now able to provide farmers the tools and data they need to become more sustainable in their nitrogen applications and growing practices,” said Bill Jones, rice agronomy manager at Anheuser-Busch. “They'll be able to improve their bottom lines while continuing to produce a high-quality rice crop.”

Anheuser-Busch and Sentera have had a working relationship since 2017 with the goal of creating digital tools that create a healthier growing environment and deliver agronomic insights. This innovation in rice aligns with Anheuser-Busch’s 2025 sustainability goals.