Grain crops make up 50% of farmland and human calories globally and are a critical component to the farming economy in the Upper Midwest. However, the major grain crops of the world are annuals and are associated with a number of negative environmental consequences. Intermediate wheatgrass (Thinopyrum intermedium; IWG) is a perennial, cool-season forage grass that has been bred for large seed size and yield so that it can be used as a grain crop called Kernza®. The large root system of IWG supports its perennial growth habit while providing more ecosystem services compared to annuals such as reduced nitrogen leaching and reduced soil erosion.
You can learn more about our research on Kernza® agronomics and environmental impacts below.