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Perennial grains

Now this is nifty:

The vast majority of the calories (70%) we consume on a daily basis are derived from grains (wheat, rice, maize).  However, these crops are input intensive (capital, energy, and physical labor) and very vulnerable to shortages/disruption of those same inputs (mostly because they are annual crops that need to be replanted every year).  In order to make them appropriate for integration into resilient communities, a new approach is needed: one that allows us to avoid, reduce, or obviate the hard inputs required for grain production through the adoption of a methodology that enables rapid cycles of decentralized innovation.  

One potential approach to grains production that meets this hurdle is being pioneered by Jerry Glover at the Land Institute of Kansas (I had the pleasure to meet Jerry yesterday in Aspen).  He's working on breeding perennial versions of common grain crops</a>.  This provides the benefit of not only increasing the resilience of these plants, the process being used to achieve these perennials is something that would work extremely well within an open source, decentralized tinkering network.  

Well, I'm sure you can see the problem, right?

How does Big Ag charge rent on a perennial?

No votes yet


Submitted by Elliott Lake on

Check out the PVP act (plant variety protection). Royalties, prevention of unauthorized propagation, it's all there.
Yet another reason to go for open pollinated, and public domain plants. (You might enjoy getting the folks from J L Hudson Seedsmen to write a bit about that for here, I think they would be a good fit.)

nomnomnom1's picture
Submitted by nomnomnom1 on

I'm very much a fan of open-pollinated, non-gm, public domain plants; I definitely support getting one's food supply out of the hands of the oligarchs... but a perennial would deplete the same nutrients year after year and its permanence would inhibit use of cover crops that might restore them; the lack of cover crops and rotation would also increase disease pressures...
planting is just one labor intensive part of small scale farming; there's also the herbicide, pesticide, & fertilization regimens and irrigation. some of this is done at planting but some is pre-plant and during growing season. it seems like the demand for these would all increase.
also does this not reduce the yield of a field to that only from the one crop? I just don't see how the savings on labor can make up for that (or am I missing something??).