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date: 31 May 2020

Agricultural Innovation  

Berkshire Encyclopedia of Sustainability

Perennial plants growing in species mixtures are an essential component of nature’s ecosystems; they build the soil that humanity depends on. Essentially all of the high-yield crops that feed humanity, however—including rice, wheat, corn (maize), soybeans, and peanuts—are currently annuals. Perennialization has the potential to extend—vastly—the productive life of soils. Since the 1980s, scientists at The Land Institute, in the United States, have been developing herbaceous perennial grains with deep root structures that can survive the winter and stay in the soil year after year. These perennial crops have the potential to cut down on agricultural energy use, keep carbon in the ground, reduce harmful runoff, prevent biodiversity loss, and seem certain to be more resilient to climate change. The institute proposes a “50-Year Farm Bill” to gradually institutionalize the perennialization of agriculture. ...

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