PERENNIAL VS. ANNUAL

MORE SUSTAINABLE WHEAT

 

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Planting annual wheat each year requires increased amounts of agricultural inputs (water, pesticides, fertilizers, and machinery). At the Land Institute in Salina, Kansas, Wes Jackson is developing perennial wheat crops that reduce the use of petrochemical-based products while providing year around ground cover.  This reduces erosion and the loss of valuable topsoil, all vital in combating climate change.

[This image was made possible with generous funding from the Post Carbon Institute]

Perennial VS Annual

The Land Institute
Salina, Kansas
24 August 2010

PERENNIAL VS. ANNUAL

perennial=plant once
annual=replant every year

OTHER RELATED TERMS 

HEIRLOOM
Open pollinated seeds saved and passed from one generation to the next.
 
COVER CROPPING
The use of annuals, biennials and perennials to improve the fertility of the growing environment.
 
HUMUS
The finished product of composting vegetative matter; it can have stable or unstable colloids which release nutrients in a constant flow when needed to the plants.
 
EROSION
The loss of topsoil caused by bad land management practices.
 
INTENSIVE TILLAGE
Turning soil causes its bacteria populations to explode. This decomposes organic matter in the soil which in turn leaches C02 into the atmosphere.
 
NITROGEN FIXATION
The process of using rhizome bacteria to transform nitrogen in the atmosphere into readily made nitrates that plants can uptake.
 
NATURAL SYSTEMS AGRICULTURE
 Agriculture based off of bio-mimicry, mimicking nature in order to get optimum efficiency when growing food.
 
HYBRID
Artificial, controlled pollination developed for large scale agriculture.
 

ADDITIONAL TEXT TAKEN FROM THE PHOTOGRAPH

PERENNIALS HAVE LARGER ROOT SYSTEMS
1. improved soil stability=less need for tillage+reduced erosion
2. reduced fossil fuel consumption
3. better managed nitrogen
4. reduced need for pesticides
5. less labor intensive
6. increased soil water storage
7. better carbon firing
8. greater biodiversity

annual wheat (Triticum aestivum)
four feet long

intermediate wheatgrass
(Thinopyrum intermedium)
ten feet long

WES JACKSON HAS BEEN DOMESTICATING INTERMEDIATE WHEAT GRASS AT THE LAND INSTITUTE SINCE THE 1970S.

Workers separate seeds from the chaff of intermediate wheatgrass samples using a dehuller. These will be carefully analyzed by researchers. Each successive planting brings Wes closer to his goal, that of replacing annual wheat with more sustainable perennials. According to Wes, the domestication of wheatgrass is expected to take ten to twelve years, after which a commercially viable perennial wheatgrass will become available.

ABOUT WES JACKSON

Wes Jackson, President of The Land Institute, earned a B.A. in biology from Kansas Wesleyan, an M.A. in botany from University of Kansas, and a Ph.D. in genetics from North Carolina State University. He established and served as chair of one of the country’s first environmental studies programs at California State University-Sacramento and then returned to his native Kansas to found The Land Institute in 1976. He is the author of several books including New Roots for Agriculture, Becoming Native to This Place and most recently Consulting the Genius of the Place. Wes is widely recognized as a leader in the international movement for a more sustainable agriculture. He was a 1990 Pew Conservation Scholar, in 1992 became a MacArthur Fellow, and in 2000 received the Right Livelihood Award (called the “alternative Nobel prize”). Life magazine named Wes Jackson as one of 18 individuals it predicts will be among the 100 “important Americans of the 20th century.” In November 2005, Smithsonian called him one of “35 Who Made a Difference.”

ADDITIONAL WEBSITES OF INTEREST

 

 

A new paradigm for Agriculture

 

Post Carbon Institute

 

Agriculture and Food Supply

Perennial Grains = Food Security (Science Magazine)

Perennial grains (from National Geographic)

The Land Institute
  • Xila Rekdal

    I saw the show on KCPT about your efforts to turn the Agribusiness juggernaut around. I posted this on FB and there is a person that really wants to know more about how you are doing the nuts and bolts of the operation.

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