Kernza® and Water Quality

Through plot-scale field studies and modeling exercises, we’ve learned that nitrate leaching is less below Kernza® compared to some annual and other perennial crops. That research can be found here.

Many rural communities pump groundwater for their source of drinking water. In agricultural areas with certain geologic features, nitrate from fertilizer can percolate or “leach” through the soil and enter rural drinking water sources. Wellhead protection areas have been delineated as regions where this threat is greatest. As a result of our plot-scale studies and modeling activities, we think that Kernza® can be grown on agricultural land in these wellhead protection areas in place of annual crops with high nitrogen fertilizer requirements to prevent nitrate contamination of drinking water. We have partnered with the Minnesota Department of Agriculture, the Minnesota Department of Health, the City of Chatfield, Lincoln-Pipestone Rural Water, Green Lands Blue Waters, the Minnesota Rural Water Association, and the Agricultural Utilization Research Institute. More on this project can be found here.

Evelyn Reilly, a graduate student on our research team, is installing a lysimeter to sample soil water to be analyzed for nitrate in a Kernza® field near Verdi, MN.


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