Lund Univeristy, through the centre for sustainability studies (LUCSUS), and the Land Institute, in Kansas, USA, are embarking on a collaboration to advance agriculture towards sustainable agro-ecological production systems. Conventional industrial agricultural systems are based on large scale annual monocultures which require the input of fresh seeds, energy, fertilizers and chemicals every year. The alternative being explored by the Land Institute for the past decades, and in which LUCSUS is now a collaborator, is to develop agricultural systems based on perennial polycultures. In particular, LUCSUS is interested in the social and economic barriers and opportunities for the realisation of such production. These systems would mimic prairie ecosystems by employing species of cereals that have been developed through selective breeding of prairie grasses. Such agricultural systems would greatly reduce the amount of inputs and emissions associated with agriculture, while matching the yields of conventional systems and providing improved robustness in the face of a changing climate. The pioneer behind this project, Wes Jackson, founder of the Land Institute, goes so far as to say that this approach would correct a 10,000 year old mistake, referring to humans’ domestication of annual grasses when starting to farm during the Neolithic revolution.
To mark this collaboration Lund University Foundation and the Swedish-American Chamber of Commerce will hold a networking event on Tuesday the 21st of April in Chicago. There, Wes Jackson, recipient of the Right Livelihood Award, and Lennart Olsson, Director of LUCSUS, will present how perennials improve our environment, benefit both big and small farmers and us the consumer.
More information on the research can be found here (pdf).