Pilot farm with an innovative crop introduced by the UVic-UCC

During the TRANSITION project, a two-year Kernza® (Elymus hispidus) field will be monitored over two years more, and its possible introduction will be assessed as an alternative and/or a complementary crop to those currently present for animal feed. To achieve that, it will be carried out an agronomic study (yield, length of the roots, soil analysis, etc.) to be acquainted with how this crop adapts to the climatic conditions of Catalonia.

In the framework of TRANSITION project, Kernza® cultivation it is interesting do to its ability to grow under irregular rainfall conditions. This, together with its deep roots system that allow it to fix atmospheric carbon and efficiently take up water and nutrients at great depths (roots of up to 3 m have been measured in some soils), make it an ideal sustainable crop.

Kernza® is the trademark name for the grain of an intermediate wheatgrass developed at The Land Institute (Kansas, USA). This “cousin” of annual wheat is perennial, and it is grown to provide fodder for livestock, although it is also being domesticated as a grain for human food. In fact, the current research by The Land Institute is devoted to improving the seed size and to develop new varieties of Kernza®.

As a perennial crop, Kernza® allows to significantly reduce the agricultural inputs, in terms of weed control and planting. Moreover, tillage reduction improves soil health and biodiversity in the field. The advances in the research of this crop could enable farmers to grow Kernza® profitably and be more resilient and sustainable in their agricultural activity.

To know more about Kernza® you could visit the following webpage: https://landinstitute.org/our-work/perennial-crops/kernza/