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Tech. Q. Master Brew. Assoc. Am., 1994, 31(3), 83-84.

Recent changes affecting barley cultivation and their possible impact on brewing.

Kendall, N.T.

The effects of changes in farming practices in recent decades on the environment and on the use in malting and brewing of barley grown by these methods are discussed. Topics covered include the abandonment of deep ploughing (which killed weeds without requiring herbicide application, but caused serious soil erosion in much of Canada and the USA) and stubble burning, the consequent increase in agrochemical usage and survival of spores of disease fungi through the winter on the stubble, the restriction of barley growing to areas with sufficient rainfall to grow a crop every year (avoiding the excessive nitrogen levels arising from decomposing plant material in soil which was not cultivated the previous year), the proposed use of chemical dessiccants for weed control and to dehydrate the crop before harvest (likely to be perceived by consumers as carrying an unacceptable risk of residues in the beer, whether such a risk actually exists or not, and therefore commercially unacceptable to maltsters and brewers), the likely effects on barley yields and quality if the climatic changes predicted to result from atmospheric pollution actually do take place, the effects of chemical fertilizers (it is well known that the indiscriminate use of nitrogenous products causes unacceptably high grain protein levels) and economic trends which have led many farmers to abandon malting barley in favour of more profitable crops.
Keywords : barley cultivation environment fertiliser malting pesticide quality survey