To maintain annual agriculture, we wipe out perennial vegetation and effectively destroy everything on the landscape in order to plant crops every year. The negative consequences of this ecological disaster include soil erosion, loss of organic matter, and loss of nutrients. So, what if we shifted to a perennial crop system that regrows from year to year without having to be reseeded? Could such a transition facilitate a broader cultural shift toward sustainability and justice? And what impact would perennialization have on reversing climate change?
Fred Iutzi and Tim Crews serve as President and Director of Research, respectively, at The Land Institute, a nonprofit based in Salina, Kansas. The organization is focused on developing perennial grains, pulses and oilseed bearing plants grown in diverse crop mixtures known as perennial polycultures. The team of 40 plant breeders and ecologists on six continents are collaborating to create an agricultural system that mimics natural systems, producing ample food and reducing the negative impacts of industrial agriculture.
Today, Fred and Tim join Ross and Christophe to discuss the literal and figurative meanings of perennialization and share The Land Institute’s mission to create first a commercially viable method of perennial grain production and then a functional agro-ecosystem. We explore why people made the transition to annual crop production and the challenges around scaling up small, 20x20 proof-of-concept plots. Listen in to understand how perennial crops reverse climate change and learn how the new agriculture of perennialization can revitalize rural America.
Connect with Ross & Christophe
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[1:26] Fred’s path to reversing climate change
[4:07] Tim’s path to reversing climate change
[5:26] The literal and figurative definitions of perennialization
[7:53] Why people made the transition to annual crop production
[12:26] The theory of change for The Land Institute
[16:59] The Land Institute’s mission to create a commercially viable method of grain production
[21:21] The challenges around scaling up small proof-of-concept plots
[27:21] Monocrop vs. diverse landscapes
[30:26] How perennial crops fit into reversing climate change
[35:10] The difference between soil organic matter and soil organic carbon
[36:36] The relationship between annuals and the decline of rural America
[40:36] How to get involved and learn more about The Land Institute