(Trienens Institute) Rooting for Sustainable Agriculture

The historical roots of the agriculture industry run deep. Yet, according to plant scientists, the industry must incorporate new, sustainable practices in order to feed a growing world population long term.

These practices include a transition from a reliance on annual plants including wheat, to perennial plants such as Kernza®, a wheat alternative. While annual crop plants need to be replanted yearly and can degrade soil over time, perennial crops have more substantial roots systems that travel further into the soil and help build healthy microbial systems—ultimately regenerating fertile soil to support future growing seasons.

Perennial agriculture research is vital to the development of viable food systems for the future. This summer, it was a key topic during a multi-day gathering of collaborators including researchers from the Program in Plant Biology and Conservation at Northwestern University and the Chicago Botanic Garden. The gathering was the annual meeting of the New Roots for Restoration Biology Integration Institute, which is a research partnership funded by the National Science Foundation.

Learn more in this Trienens Institute for Sustainability and Energy article!