Transforming Agriculture, Perennially


Spencer Barriball

Research Technician, Perennial Legumes

Hailing from Northwestern Florida, Spencer came to Salina with a Bachelor of Science in Horticulture from the University of Minnesota. For three years after completing his degree, he worked for the UM Horticulture department under the Potato Breeding and Genetics program as a research technician. There, he managed potato variety trials across Minnesota and North Dakota and helped to oversee the potato germplasm improvements projects, which introduced him to the essential relationships between applied research and farmers. He saw a large variation of farming systems through this work, all of which looked to balance environmental resources and provide quality food for their markets. Combining these experiences with his current work has allowed him to see the bigger picture of creating a new food system while providing those that grow it with solid information and research about the crops being developed. It is vital to the mission of TLI to build relationships with growers so the agricultural research will be adopted.

Watch Spencer explain some of his current work.


What drew you to work at TLI?
The Land Institute was referenced in a few of my sustainable agriculture courses at the University of Minnesota and I had met my wife a few years before, who had grown up in Salina, KS.  Upon learning about a position opening, joining TLI was an easy decision after my adventures in Minnesota and North Dakota.

What’s most inspiring about your specific position at TLI?
I enjoy seeing the phenotypic variation expressed in early generation plant breeding that most people never get to see. It is encouraging to explain to inquiring minds just how different early generation plants look from their variety counterparts that are released to the public.

What TLI perennial crop do you look forward to eating most, and how would you prepare it?
Chocolate chip cookies made from alfalfa flour

Support the work of Spencer and others at The Land Institute with a donation.


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