The Land Institute
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The institute, based in Salina, Kansas, was founded in 1976 by plant geneticist and MacArthur "genius grant" recipient Wes Jackson and Dana Jackson (who has long worked with the Land Stewardship Project in Minnesota). Wes Jackson has been the guiding figure at The Land Institute, but he has also been fortunate to have the assistance of leading figures in their fields including photographer Terry Evans, and historians Brian Donahue, Donald Worster, and Angus Wright.
Perennial polyculture systems may have a variety of benefits over conventional annual monocultures such as increased biodiversity, reduced soil erosion, and reduced inputs of irrigation, fossil fuels, fertilizers, and pesticides.
Using gains made in scientific knowledge and ability over the past few decades, Land Institute scientists are breeding the annual crop plants wheat, sorghum and sunflower with wild, perennial relatives, thus creating perennial wheat, perennial sorghum and perennial sunflower. They also are working to domesticate productive perennials, including the high-protein Illinois bundleflower. Since each recombination of traits and selection takes a plant generation, to achieve productive and genetically stable perennial crop plants for use by farmers is expected to take several decades.
In addition to promoting a "natural systems agriculture," The Land Institute is an advocate for rural community. It sees the former helping the latter, with less reliance on industrial supplies and more value on farmers knowing fields' individual characteristics.
The work of The Land Institute was featured in Michael Pollan's New York Times best-seller The Omnivore’s Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals. The general modus operandi of developing a sustainable, high yield, low labor, agricultural model based on the culturation of crop polycultures, developed by The Land Institute forms the substance of the chapter How Will We Feed Ourselves? in Janine Benyus's book, Biomimicry : Innovation Inspired by Nature.
- "Introduction and Mission". About us. The Land Institute. 2009-04-07. Retrieved 2009-07-08.
- Simon Moffat, Anne (1996-11-29). "Agricultural Research: Higher Yielding Perennials Point the Way to New Crops". Science 274 (5292): 1469–1470. doi:10.1126/science.274.5292.1469. Retrieved 2009-07-08.
- Benyus, Janine M (2002) [First published 1997]. "How Will We Feed Ourselves?". Biomimicry : innovation inspired by nature. New York: Perennial. ISBN 978-0-06-053322-9. OCLC 51226447.
Media related to The Land Institute at Wikimedia Commons
- The Land Institute website
- Smithsonian magazine profile of Jackson
- 1986 interview with In Context
- Kansas State Historical Society page on Land Institute and its archives
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