Improving the Environment, Igniting Rural Prosperity
A multi-state coalition of researchers, farmers, educators, industry leaders, policy experts, and climate scientists was recently awarded a competitive 5-year, $10 million grant through USDA NIFA’s Agriculture and Food Research Initiative’s Sustainable Agricultural Systems program to scale the research, production, awareness and commercialization of Kernza, the first commercial perennial grain in the United States.
Kernza is the trademark name for the perennial grain harvested from new varieties of intermediate wheatgrass (Thinopyrum intermedium), a forage grass that has been used by farmers across the United States for decades. As a perennial, Kernza is planted once and provides several years of harvestable grain. Kernza has a deep root system that provides multiple environmental benefits, including improving water and soil quality and reducing soil erosion. Additionally, research has shown that this new perennial grain can increase farm income due to decreased inputs and costs from reduced tilling, pesticide requirements and nutrient runoff.