Global Agriculture Has a Planting Problem
Climate-friendly crops are getting more attention from farmers and food companies as pressure mounts to find sustainable forms of agriculture. Enter Kernza, a new grain that’s already got powerful backers like General Mills Inc. and the support of academia.
Kernza is a wheat-like grain that can be used in breads, cereals, or even served as a pilaf like rice. It’s also a perennial crop, which means it can be seeded once and then grown for multiple years. It helps the environment by sequestering carbon in the soil through its deep root system and requires fewer chemical inputs.
The tell-tale sign for Kernza’s green benefits is underneath the ground. To the uninitiated, dirt is dirt. But farmers can tell you of countless varieties, from stuff that’s red and clay-like, to arid, dry and sandy. Then there’s what you get when you dig up some natural prairie—dark, rich and velvety, the soil that dreams are made of. When Minnesota farmer Carmen Fernholz tore up a test crop of Kernza after seven growing seasons, that’s exactly what he saw.