Researchers Attempt to Develop Agriculture Based on Perennial Plants

Researchers at the Land Institute are working on the gold standard: a new way of farming that mirrors natural, sustainable ecosystems and remains profitable for farmers. Forty years after its founding the perennial farming project is still underway.

Nestled among acres of wheat fields and rows of corn, the Land Institute of Salina, Kansas, may seem an unlikely Mecca for environmental activists. After decades of leading the charge to develop alternative ways of raising grain, the facility still attracts crowds hunting for hunting for sustainable agricultural solutions.

Now, the leader and founder of the Land Institute, Wes Jackson, is stepping down, leaving the research facility to continue hunting for a breakthrough in sustainable agriculture without its original driving force.

The Land Institute started with a bold idea: that farming took a serious wrong turn 10,000 years ago. Traditional farming breaks up the soil, causes run-off and depletes nutrients. For major crops, most farmers now practice what’s called “no-till farming,” which saves them from turning the soil every year, but requires lots of chemical inputs.

Bernard Spragg


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