Transforming Agriculture, Perennially

Video & Audio Library

Prairie Festival speaker presentations, webinars, civic science, and more videos can be found on this page.




Beginning at Prairie Festival 2019, The Land Institute is pleased to officially welcome the public to visit our Marty Bender Nature Area. The 206-acre nature area is located one mile north of The Land Institute’s main campus. At this time, the trail is only to be used for hiking.

The nature area features a trail of nearly three miles through prairie and woods along the Smoky Hill River in traditional Kaw Nation homelands. Several scientific research plots are located on site. Additional features include art installations, plant and wildlife viewing, a tree swing and picnic area, scenic overlooks of the river and Salina region, and a community book share box.

With the generous support of private philanthropists, The Land Institute acquired the nature area property in 2002 from the trust of Oliver Haag. The “Haag Place” was used in the past for farming and ranching. In 2004, the land was named in commemoration of Marty Bender, former energy scientist at The Land Institute, who was also a naturalist. In 2018, local volunteers and friends of The Land Institute, designed and made the trail in collaboration with institute staff. They milled local Osage orange wood for benches and signage along the trail. As a site for research, education, and community engagement, the nature area has since hosted events such as tours, community work days, and Ecosphere Studies workshops.

Nature area guidelines are posted at the entrance. To share ideas, or to ask questions, contact


The Land Institute’s Director of Ecosphere Studies, Dr. Aubrey Streit Krug, brings us into her kitchen and invites us to take a deeper look into the social and biophysical pathways our food takes to arrive at our own kitchen tables. From farm to cupboard, join us as we trace this journey.

The Land Institute’s Perennial Legumes research technician, Spencer Barriball, brings us deep into TLI’s research plots to show us some of the intermediate wheatgrass + perennial legume intercropping experiments his team is working on. The goals of the perennial legumes research program are to expand agronomic knowledge about these dual-purpose intercroppoing systems (i.e. row spacing, harvest timing, nitrogen balance) that produce grain for humans and forage for livestock and to develop a long-term collaborative domestication strategy to improve sainfoin seed yield and nutritional quality through a combination of breeding, agronomy, food science, and commercialization efforts.


The Land Institute’s Dr. Lee DeHaan, lead scientist for Kernza® perennial grain, and Tessa Peters, our commercialization manager give an introductory presentation on the development and commercialization of Kernza®.


The Land Institute’s Director of Ecosphere Studies, Dr. Aubrey Streit Krug, takes us through a two-part practice of following the roots around us belowground to learn about the soils we stand on today and to retrace our memories and rediscover the soils of our past. Let us know where this took you and what you find there in the comments.

The Land Institute’s Perennial Wheat research technician, Dr. Piyush Labhsetwar, walks us through the journey plant DNA must take in order to be sequenced to accelerate the breeding program. The Perennial Wheat program at TLI creates hybrids made from crossing annual wheat species (including bread and durum wheat) with wheatgrass species with the long-term goal of developing an economically viable perennial wheat variety in the next 10-20 years.


The Land Institute’s Director of Ecosphere Studies, Dr. Aubrey Streit Krug, takes us into Land Institute research plots to explore the diverse patterns of life growing around us through the perspective of leaves. Pick up a leaf; what do you see?

The Land Institute’s Perennial Oilseeds research technician, Sydney Schiffner, walks us through a day in the life of her program. The Perennial Oilseeds team is domesticating Silphium integrifolium, an oilseed crop in the sunflower family, with the goal of having perennial silphium partially replace annual oilseed crops such as sunflower, canola, and soy.


Dr. Ebony Murrell, The Land Institute’s lead scientist for the Crop Protection Ecology research program, discusses her work developing integrated pest management solutions for perennial grain insect pests and diverse cropping systems to improve overall plan health and biological control.


The Land Institute’s Director of Ecosphere Studies, Aubrey Streit Krug, invites you to join her for an experiential learning activity to meet and visit with the perennials in a place you love. For Aubrey, it’s Pediomelum esculentum on the Wauhob Prairie. Where did this practice take you, and what perennials did you meet?


Dr. Kathryn Turner, who leads The Land Institute’s Crop Protection Genetics research program, discusses her work dealing with and combating virus epidemics within our Silphium breeding populations.

The Land Institute’s Crop Protection Ecology (CPE) research technician, Edy Chérémond, walks us through how the CPE team works to achieve their programmatic goals. The mission of CPE is to determine how different crop management practices synergistic relationships in diverse cropping systems can be employed to successfully increase beneficial insects and manage crop pests in perennial grains.

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