Land Institute

A nonprofit organization

3 donors

We are breeding perennial grain crops that save soil, use fewer chemicals, and lower atmospheric carbon.

Why change agriculture?

To successfully grow annuals, farmers have to suppress or kill the vegetation (weeds) that compete with crops for sunlight, nutrients, and water, especially when the crops are seedlings. Over millennia, farmers traditionally used implements such as hoes and plows to eliminate vegetation from the landscape before sowing annuals. This soil disturbance has caused significant amounts of soil carbon loss (which ends up in the atmosphere as CO2), soil erosion, nutrient leakage, and changes in soil organisms. Recently some farmers in the developed world have replaced reliance on tillage with chemical herbicides. This shift to “no till” cropping reduces erosion and tends to improve soil organic matter, but can still result in nutrient leakage, low soil organic carbon levels, and reliance on fossil fuel based inputs that carry possible health risks.

Why are perennials a solution?

Perennial plants do not have to be reseeded or replanted every year, so they do not require annual plowing or herbicide applications to establish.

Perennial crops are robust; they protect soil from erosion and improve soil structure. They increase ecosystem nutrient retention, carbon sequestration, and water infiltration, and can contribute to climate change adaptation and mitigation. Overall, they help ensure food and water security over the long term.

Many fruit, forage and some vegetable crops, including fruit trees, alfalfa, grapes, asparagus, and olive trees, are perennials that have been grown for thousands of years. The Land Institute is working to add perennial grains, legumes, and oilseed crops to the list.

Perennial grains, legumes and oilseed varieties represent a paradigm shift in modern agriculture and hold great potential for truly sustainable production systems. In addition to identifying and developing perennial food crops, The Land Institute also conducts ecological intensification research in order to put those crop plants into diverse mixtures called polycultures that mimic the benefits found in native and natural ecosystems.

Organization Data


Organization name

Land Institute

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2440 E Water Well Rd
Salina, KS 67401



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