Reasons for Developing Perennial Grain

Perennial Grain · Reasons · Advantages · Disadvantages · Development

The 2005 Synthesis Report of the United Nations’ Millenium Ecosystem Assessment program labeled agriculture the “largest threat to biodiversity and ecosystem function of any single human activity.” Perennial grains could reduce this threat, according to the following logic:

  • Most agricultural land is devoted to the production of grain crops: cereal, oilseed, and legume crops occupy 75% of US and 69% of global croplands. These grains include such crops as wheat, rice, and maize; together they provide over 70% of human food calories.
  • All these grain crops are currently annual plants which are generally planted into cultivated soil.
  • Frequent cultivation puts soil at risk of loss and degradation.
  • This “central dilemma” of agriculture in which current food production undermines the potential for future food production could be escaped by developing perennial grain crops that do not require tilling the soil each year. No-till technology enables short-lived (annual) crops to be grown with less intense tillage, but perennial plants provide the most protection for the soil.
  • A dense stocking of perennial plants - whether trees, shrubs, or herbs - in an agroecosystem increases the likelihood that the soil will be covered continuously, moderating oscillations in temperature and humidity that can damage the soil.

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It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Perennial Grain".