Linda Poole

NCAT Regenerative Grazing Specialist
In Civil Eats, journalist Christina Cooke reports "Above and belowground, perennial crops including wheat, grasses, trees, and more provide habitat and nutrition to creatures that help make ecosystems whole":
Researchers point out that perennial crops also benefit off-farm biodiversity, because they reduce the negative impacts of traditional agriculture on the environment. “The Mississippi Basin’s annual dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico is from nitrogen leaching out when there are no roots in the soil and there’s no activity,” said Crews. With perennial covers like Kernza, he continues, “the vast, vast majority of nitrate leaching stops.”

Additionally, he said, “There’s increasing evidence that you lose less in nitrous oxide fluxes as a greenhouse gas, because these crops take up the nitrogen so quickly, and year-round—you don’t have times of the year when there are no plants to take up nitrogen.”
“The real powerhouse of our agriculture is based on grain crops and grazing crops, but trees are an amazing addition to the toolkit,” said Fred Iutzi, director of research and commercialization with the Savanna Institute. Because they’re perennial and tall in stature, they help create an important year-round diversity of ecosystems in the farm landscape, in addition to supporting a diversity of species, Iutzi said.

Several efforts to promote perennial agriculture have received influxes of funding in recent years. As part of last year’s Partnerships for Climate-Smart Commodities funding program within the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), the agency dedicated $60 million to agroforestry, for instance.

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