Flowers for Hops: Giant mug of beer helps nourish Czech hop farm

A new initiative from Pilsner Urquell to promote sustainable farming has planted flowers in-between rows of hops in Žatec to create a giant mug of beer. Staff

Written by Staff Published on 05.08.2023 12:24:00 (updated on 05.08.2023) Reading time: 2 minutes

The lush hop fields in Žatec have taken on a vibrant new appearance with the emergence of thousands of blooming flowers that form the shape of giant mug of beer when viewed from above. Amidst the lush green rows of hops are white and yellow flowers in the shape of a pint measuring about sixty meters wide.

This picturesque landscape is the backdrop for the innovative Flowers for Hops initiative from Czech brewery Pilsner Urquell, which symbolizes a return to traditional regenerative agriculture practices.

In collaboration with the Czech University of Agriculture and hop producers Arix Czech Hop, Pilsner Urquell's Flowers for Hops initiative involves planting various flowers alongside hop vines at ten different farms in Žatec.

Flowers for Hops project. Photo: Pilsner Urquell
Flowers for Hops project. Photo: Pilsner Urquell

The flowers aren't only there for the nice appearance. This regenerative approach aims to enrich the soil, prevent erosion, and naturally nourish the hops. The project hopes to mitigate the effects of climate change on local hops cultivation, ensuring the quality and quantity of this vital ingredient for beer production.

"We're doing it in a similar way as our grandmothers and grandfathers used to," explains the initiative's coordinator, Ivan Tučník. "We are literally going back to our roots and want to take care of the soil in a natural way."

"We planted flowers in the rows between the hops on selected hop farms. They help nourish the field, retain moisture in the soil, and prevent soil erosion. In this way, we are abandoning the methods of agriculture seen in recent decades, when the soil is plowed in the fall and all the nutrients freeze, so that they have to be added to it artificially in the spring."

"These days the flowers bloomed with many colors. When they bloom, they will also become natural pasture for sheep and the soil will thus gain additional nutrients." 

The initiative is unique for its scientific research aspect, comparing the results of regenerative farming with conventional methods on a total of 20 hectares of hop farms. Advanced technologies, including weather stations and soil sensors, are employed to monitor temperature, moisture, and light radiation.

The ultimate goal is to create a thriving natural ecosystem in the soil, improving plant resilience against climate change, reducing the need for artificial fertilizers, and increasing water retention.

"Year-round soil cover will reduce water evaporation and the maximum temperature on the soil surface. It will also be protected from wind and especially water erosion," adds David Nesvadba from Arix Czech Hop, emphasizng the broader benefits, adding that this regenerative approach aids in carbon sequestration, contributing to the fight against climate change.

Flowers for Hops complements Pilsner Urquells PRO HOPS project, initiated in 2021, which focuses on effective irrigation techniques to combat water scarcity. Both initiatives work in tandem to secure the future of Czech hops, a cornerstone of beer production globally.

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