Field Work: The Promise of Perennials
Research at The Land Institute in Salina, Kansas, over the past couple of decades has advanced the concept of perennial grain crops to the point of commercially available kernza. It’s getting a lot of attention because it seems to be a viable grain crop that also provides straw and — this is really the kicker — is perennial rather than annual.
Luke Peterson, of A-Frame Farm in Lac qui Parle County, Minnesota, has pulled a grain crop off his kernza field for three years and says it could go on producing for a couple more. On his diverse organic farm, Peterson has expanded kernza to nearly 80 acres, or about 10 percent of his land.
“This crop isn’t the one all-be all, and it isn’t going to save the world,” he said, “but it does have a very important place in a rotation.”
That’s because it offers soil-boosting and climate-mitigating effects while also bringing in cash.