I crouch to inspect a late planting of perennial rye to find a robust row of healthy green sprigs. I wasn’t sure if it would establish, but I shouldn’t have underestimated it. It’s the most hardy of the cereal grains, germinating and putting on small amounts of growth at temperatures as low as 33 degrees. We’re growing this small test plot with Plovgh. Inc. to research it’s multifunctionality to farmers as well as it’s eco services. Perennial grains have been found to mitigate nitrate runoff which has contaminated so many of our rural wells. This has affected over a million people in Wisconsin, and is largely due to chemical fertilizers from corn and beans. Perennial grains are highly efficient users of nitrogen with deep, extended root structures, year round and other communities have done plantings to protect their compromised watersheds. It’s also an interesting crop candidate for flood control, weed control, erosion prevention, and carbon sequestration. These hardy little sprouts could potentially grow resilience in rural landscapes.


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