Diageo Drones Aid Eco-Friendly Tequila Farming
Diageo, the manufacturer of Don Julio and Casamigos tequilas, remains at the forefront of innovation with the implementation of drones on its agave farms in Jalisco, Mexico. This follows a successful pilot conducted in 2022.
The use of drones has allowed Diageo to equip its agave planters with the necessary skills for the future of the burgeoning tequila industry while also enhancing their digital proficiency in flying drones. This has resulted in the integration of more efficient farming practices and a drive towards environmental benefits.
Beginning in mid-2022, drones have been employed to identify the agave plants requiring a pesticide and fertiliser water mix and the appropriate amount needed, thus ensuring that valuable water resources are used only where necessary. This has resulted in greater efficiency in agave farming. Agave plants serve as the fundamental ingredient in the production of tequila.
The drones operate in pairs: one identifies the plants that require attention and collects data on agave plant growth, while the other dispenses a distinct water, fertiliser, and pesticide mix at night when the stomata is open. This has resulted in the collection of valuable data that has helped agave planters make better decisions on resource utilisation.
Furthermore, the data has indicated that the optimal time to water the plants is in the early morning when it is cooler, there is less wind to reduce water loss, and the agave plant is more receptive to water. As a result, water usage has decreased by approximately two-thirds, resulting in significant savings of valuable resources. With the ability to fly over Diageo's agave fields, fewer tractors are required to be driven across the farmland, resulting in reduced carbon emissions as a secondary benefit.
According to Ewan Andrew, Chief Sustainability Officer, "As the demand for tequila continues to rise, we aim to increase our farming efficiency while also being mindful of the planet. This initiative is an excellent example of combining the two. It is an exciting use of technological innovation to increase production, develop our farmers' skills, and assist us in achieving our sustainability targets by 2030."
Diageo's introduction of drones on its agave farms in Mexico has allowed planters to focus on planting and nurturing new agave. The company's use of drone technology has boosted production, enabled data collection for efficient resource use, and helped meet sustainability goals. The initiative has reduced water use and carbon emissions while increasing farming efficiency. The company's half-year results showed a 28% growth in its tequila business, making it the world's largest tequila producer.
According to Wellington Pauperio, Director for Supply Tequila & Mezcal at Diageo, the company is proud to lead industry innovation and technology adoption by pioneering the use of drones across agave farming. The initiative improves efficiency in agriculture operations, creates new opportunities for personnel in the communities where Diageo operates, and contributes to a more sustainable world by reducing resource use, including water mix across its plantations. Pauperio credits the success of the initiative to cross-team collaboration and looks forward to a better future.
Diageo's use of drones in its agave farming contributes to the company's 2030 ESG plan, Society 2030: Spirit of Progress, which aims to reduce water use by 40% in water-stressed areas and by 30% in other areas. The precision agriculture efforts also help preserve natural resources, aligning with Diageo's commitment to long-term success.