Before the invention of agriculture all crops were perennial. With the advent of modern farming, annual crops become the norm. The transition has served the world extremely well for the past few thousand years.
In the coming decades, however, society must find a way to feed an additional two billion people without over-taxing the world’s resources. This is no small chore.
One possible solution is the idea of perennial crops. The benefits are many. Perennial crops have deep roots which prevent erosion; they require less fertilizer and water; and, because they don’t require deep tilling, the roots can serve as carbon sinks and help offset C02 emissions.
Some farms in Africa and elsewhere are already utilizing perennial crops to increase yields but the really exciting opportunities are on the near-term horizon as researchers identify new genes which could lead to perennial versions of wheat and corn.
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