Valentin Picasso, an agronomist at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, said researchers in his field have known for a long time that planting perennial crops in farm fields has a long list of environmental benefits.
The plants’ year-round presence protects the soil from erosion and helps absorb nutrients that would otherwise runoff into lakes and rivers. The forages, which are used for livestock feed, also create an environment for increased biodiversity and can even help fix carbon into the soil, mediating the effects of climate change.
“We’ve shown, in looking at long term research here in Wisconsin, that the more diversity we have in a cropping system, the more resilient it is to weather extremes like drought. And we’ve also shown that the more perennials in the system, we have more stability in production,” Picasso said.