Researcher Sees Fit for Perennial Small Grain Crops
Ancient farmers began domesticating wild annual plants approximately 10,000 years ago. Eventually, farmers became dependent upon annual grain crops, and according to Brandon Schlautman of The Land Institute, diverse natural ecosystems were inadvertently converted to monoculture annual agro-ecosystems. Schlautman spoke at High Plains Journal’s Soil Health U and Trade Show in January 2020.
His research focuses on developing dual-purpose intermediate wheatgrass plus alfalfa intercropping systems that produce Kernza perennial grain for humans and spring and fall or winter forage for grazing livestock. Schlautman’s work is in its infancy, but he is excited to have a proof of concept perennial grain cropping system that captures the key features of natural ecosystems through diversity and perenniality.
“Our ancestors, we came here and saw the prairie and thought, we want to make this place be this (farmland),” Schlautman said. “And by maintaining that vision and working hard, we’re not only feeding ourselves, but we’re feeding a lot of other people around the world.”
Somewhere along the way in the dash to feed the masses, people lost track of how to treat the environment in order to raise a crop.