Perennial possibilities for increasing food and ecosystem security
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Perennial possibilities for increasing food and ecosystem security

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  • 1. Perennial possibilities forincreasing food andecosystem securityJerry GloverUSAIDWashington, DCjglover@usaid.gov
  • 2. “[agriculture]…largest threat to biodiversity andecosystem function of any single humanactivity.”Millennium Ecosystem Assessment (2005)
  • 3. “[agriculture]…one of the most importantdrivers of…habitat change, climate change,water use, and toxic emissions.”UN Environment Program Report (2010)
  • 4. (CIMMYT, 2010)
  • 5. (CIMMYT, 2010)
  • 6. Model systems:Perennial grasslands harvested every yearfor over 75 years; only atmospheric inputs
  • 7. Model systems:Perennial grasslands harvested every yearfor over 75 years; only atmospheric inputsHow do they compare to high-input annualcereal production?
  • 8. • Yields• Carbon & nitrogen• Ecosystem processes
  • 9. Glover et al., 2010. Harvestedperennial grasslands provideecological benchmarks foragricultural sustainability.DuPont et al., 2010. No-tillageconversion of harvestedperennial grassland to annualcroplandCulman et al., 2010. Long-termimpacts of high-input annualcropping and unfertilizedperennial grass productionAEE, Vol. 137, Issues 1-2, 2010
  • 10. PerennialgrassAnnualwheat p-valueHarvestednitrogen (kg ha-1)47.9 47.2 0.909Farmers are removing roughly equal amounts ofnitrogen from both systems; annual crop fieldsreceive over 60 kg ha-1 yr-1 more nitrogen
  • 11. PerennialgrassAnnualwheatp-valueTotal carbon 182.2 138.8 0.027Total nitrogen 15.4 11.7 0.013Soil quality (0 – 1.0 m; Mg ha-1):
  • 12. perennialwheatRoot C of perennial and wheat fields
  • 13. Differences not simply artifacts of obsoletefarming practices such as poor tillage &fertilizer practices
  • 14. Differences not simply artifacts of obsoletefarming practices such as poor tillage &fertilizer practicesDuPont et al: No-tillage conversion of nativegrassland using best-practices•reductions in active carbon stocks•reductions in water stable aggregates•Negative impacts on soil food webs
  • 15. Conservation Ag: low tillage, rotations, residue maintenance
  • 16. Additional examples•Sustained harvests of unfertilized perennialgrasslands (USDA county yield data; Shortridge, 1973;Jenkinson et al., 1994, Silvertown et al., 1994)•SOC and total soil N not reduced afterdecades of unfertilized grassland harvests(Jenkinson et al., 2004; Mikhailova et al., 2000, Mikhailova andPost, 2006)
  • 17. (nasa.gov)1 mmPhoto credit: Jim Richardson
  • 18. (nasa.gov)1 mmPhoto credit: Jim RichardsonSmall-scale processes »» Large-scale landscape healthminutes and millimeters
  • 19. Humans don’t eat hay
  • 20. Global cropland (% of total area)Fruits &vegetables7%Roots &tubers 4%Tree crops2%Forages11%Other3%Fiber3%Cereals, oilseeds, legumes68%From Monfreda et al., 2008
  • 21. Global cropland (% of total area)Cereals, oilseeds, legumes68%From Monfreda et al., 2008These are allannual crops
  • 22. Global cropland (% of total area)Cereals, oilseeds, legumes68%From Monfreda et al., 2008Provide for more than70% of our calories needs
  • 23. Perennial grain cropsSorghumMaizeLegumesRiceWheatgrass & wheatSunflowersOilseeds
  • 24. Washington State University:Texas A&M:The Land Institute: perennialsorghum, sunflower, wheat, +.Yunnan Academy of AgriculturalSciencesCSIRO: perennial wheatGlobal perennial grain programsMich. State Univ.: perennialwheat & wheatgrassSwedish University Ag SciUniversity of ManitobaCatedra de CultivosIndustriales: Lesquerella(mustard family)Nepal: perennial wheatCornell: perennial maize
  • 25. Domestication:Intermediate wheatgrass
  • 26. Wild1 -2cycles3cycles
  • 27. 1 mDomestication:Intermediate wheatgrass
  • 28. 1 mDomestication:Intermediate wheatgrass
  • 29. XWide hybridization:perennial wheat
  • 30. wheat/wheatgrass//wheatwheat/wheatgrass//wheatgrasswheatgrass
  • 31. Dr. Dhruba ThapaNepal Agricultural Research CouncilKhumaltar Laitpur, NepalHigh altitude perennial wheat in western Nepal“…increase food & forage securitysignificantly in the region.”
  • 32. “…minimize theworkload of farmers,especially of women inthe remote areas.”
  • 33. Deeper roots: “…more stablegrain and biomass yields”
  • 34. Deeper roots: “…higheruptake of selenium, zinc,iron and other minerals.”
  • 35. “…some of the 25 lines appearhighly resistant to yellow rust.”
  • 36. Perennial Concerns• Can perennials produce as muchgrain?• Aren’t perennials more vulnerable topests and disease?• Will perennials become weeds?• How long will it take?
  • 37. Perennial Concerns Yield• Perennials have higher yield potential• Consider within context of whole system• Multifunctionality is key
  • 38. Perennial Concerns Pests and disease• Increases potential to diversify rotations,intercrops, relay systems• Wide crosses introduce new pathways forresistance
  • 39. Perennial Concerns Weediness• Unlike perennial forages, perennial grains aredesigned to put their energy into seeds notvegetation
  • 40. Perennial Concerns Time• Farmers already use some perennial grainlegumes—pigeon peas• Perennial sorghum & rice: field trials within 5years; farmer-ready within 15 years• Perennial wheat: farmer-ready in 20 years
  • 41. Perennial Possibilities We can transform our farms tofunction more like natural ecosystems Perennial grain crops are the next step Mitigation: If agricultural soils can beused to offset industrial emissions ofGHGs, perennial crops will be key Adaptation: Perennial crops are moreresilient
  • 42. Jerry GloverUSAIDWashington, DCjglover@usaid.gov