Transforming Agriculture, Perennially

Media Coverage

Can Planet Earth Feed 10 Billion People?

Publication: The Atlantic

Author: Charles C. Mann

The Rodale Institute, the country’s oldest organization that researches organic agriculture, gathered 250 samples of intermediate wheatgrass (Thinopyrum intermedium) in the late 1980s. A perennial cousin to bread wheat, wheatgrass was introduced to the Western Hemisphere from Asia in the 1930s as fodder for farm animals. Working with U.S. Department of Agriculture researchers, the Rodale Institute’s Peggy Wagoner, a pioneering plant breeder and agricultural researcher, planted samples, measured their yields, and crossbred the best performers in an attempt to make a commercially viable perennial. Wagoner and the Rodale Institute passed the baton in 2002 to the Land Institute, in Salina, Kansas, a nonprofit agricultural-research center dedicated to replacing conventional agriculture with processes akin to those that occur in natural ecosystems. The Land Institute, collaborating with other researchers, has been developing wheatgrass ever since. It has even given its new variety of intermediate wheatgrass a trade name: Kernza.
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