Exploring Malted Barley Production, Resiliency of Soils and Economic Sustainability in Nebraska

Project Overview

Project Type: Partnership
Funds awarded in 2018: $29,990.00
Projected End Date: 04/06/2020
Grant Recipient: Rigg Soil Solutions
Region: North Central
State: Nebraska
Project Coordinator:
Zachary Rigg
Rigg Soil Solutions

Information Products


  • Agronomic: barley, corn, soybeans


  • Crop Production: conservation tillage, cover crops, crop improvement and selection, crop rotation, double cropping, nutrient management
  • Education and Training: demonstration
  • Energy: byproduct utilization
  • Farm Business Management: community-supported agriculture, farm-to-institution, farm-to-restaurant
  • Natural Resources/Environment: biodiversity, carbon sequestration
  • Pest Management: prevention
  • Production Systems: dryland farming
  • Soil Management: composting, soil analysis, soil microbiology, soil physics, soil quality/health
  • Sustainable Communities: local and regional food systems, new business opportunities, partnerships, urban/rural integration

    Proposal abstract:

    Nebraska’s growers are struggling to integrate sustainable cropping systems vs. the customary corn and soybean systems. Primarily because of economic and climate constraints, rotations have not changed.  Through new crops like malted barley, we will determine the profitability and foster ties to local brewers.

    We will explore the viability of malted barley production. Expanding the crop diversity with barley will impact soil biology, increase unique residue covers and enhance soil resiliency. It will also allow double cropping through legumes or grazing cover crops.

    Malted barley potentially offers additional sustainability to local markets. Maltsters and brewers (NE Hops and the Boiler Pressroom Brewery; see attachments) have expressed interest in locally sourced ingredients.

    Winter barley production in Nebraska has been unreliable primarily because of winter kill. Dr. Stephen Baenziger’s research, University of NE-Lincoln, is demonstrating initial success with barley production. He is introducing new and hardier varieties that are adapted to our climate. We will compare forms of nutrients and examine interplay with soil temperature, moisture and surface air temperature as well as determine if the barley meets brewers’ specifications.

    Project objectives from proposal:

    • Determine if winter malted barley is viable to crop rotations in Nebraska and is economically sustainable.
    • Examine the impact of prior crop rotations upon the physical, biological and chemical properties of the soil and weather resiliency
    • Assess the impact of barley upon soil and air temperature and soil moisture.
    • Compare nutrients and identify the fertility requirements for Nebraska's soils that meet barley brewing standards.
    • Determine if malted barley can be grown to meet the six brewing standards (Michigan Barley Testing Lab).
    • Establish a network and contact list for barley producers with the brewing industry.
    Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.