Work being conducted at the Michael Fields Agricultural Institute in Wisconsin is aiming to get a new grain called kernza to retail shelves. The institute is a part of a coalition including the University of Wisconsin that will share a $10 million federal grant designated to explore ways of making kernza earlier to grow and manage for farmers.
Similar to wheat, a key benefit kernza presents to farmers, according to Nicole Tautges, agroecologist with the institute, is that it is a perennial. This also benefits the environment, as the crop root system runs deep in the soil, and it reduces the need for tillage, and can potentially reduce the usage of agro chemicals.
So far, the grain is being used in some organic food products, but the goal is to develop a supply chain for the grain, to make it the first large-scale perennial grain crop to be widely used by the food industry.
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