Is the Future of Agriculture Perennial?

conference 6-10 May in Lund

There is an urgent need for agriculture to drastically reduce its negative environmental impacts, while at the same time responding to increasing demand and adapting to a changing climate. For this to be possible, radical change in how we grow our major staple crops is essential. From the 6th through the 10th of May, over 80 specially invited researchers from around the world will meet in Lund to present and discuss progress, challenges and future avenues regarding the development and upscaling of perennial agriculture.

perennial agriculture

The aim of the conference is threefold:

  • to review the state of perennial polyculture research taking place internationally,

  • to evaluate progress in and barriers to adoption of new perennial cropping systems 

  • to strategize the upscaling of perennial breeding and agroecology research worldwide.

This conference builds on previous conferences on perennial grains breeding (1989 in Kansas; 1997 in Williams, Australia; 2009 in Kunming, China; 2010 in Wagga Wagga, Australia; 2010 and 2011 in Michigan; 2012 in Manitoba, Canada; 2013 at FAO; 2014 in Colorado; 2015 at ICRISAT, Mali; and 2017 in Yunnan, China), but the aim this time is to take two steps further: to connect the international plant breeding research to a broader community of agroecology and social sciences, and to galvanize the international research community into action.

In the last couple of years we have witnessed how perennial grains have started to rapidly attract interest from farmers and industry, not least the perennial rice (PR23) and the proto-domesticated perennial species intermediate wheat grass (“Kernza”). This means that the time is ripe for bringing research and progressive producers together. Therefore we hope this conference will become a stepping stone for integrated research in which academia and producers start co-producing knowledge. Hence the conference will comprise sessions in which participants representing producers, food industry, and policy, will discuss potentials and challenges of perennial polycultures. The programme also contains pre- and post- study tours to Högestad Estate (largest upscaling of Kernza cultivation to date in collaboration with LUCSUS and TLI), the SITES field station operated the Swedish University of Agricultural Science (trials of Kernza based cropping systems), and University of Copenhagen Plant Science Centre at Taastrup in Denmark.