Kernza® perennial grain is in the early stages of adoption and commercialization. Kernza® production, because of its continuous living roots, promises to contribute to an economically sound agriculture system for the north central region. But for now, Kernza® grain yields remain lower than wheat, markets are underdeveloped, and little information exists about potential uses for byproducts created during Kernza® production, cleaning, and milling. This proposal investigates whether byproducts could play an important role in contributing to the economic viability of Kernza® production without reducing the ecosystem services provided. Specifically, we test in on-farm demonstration trials whether summer straw/residue baling and removal - which results in nutrient export - affects subsequent grain yields, forage yields, and soil health status. Furthermore, we measure the yields and quality of potential byproducts (i.e. summer residue, fall forage, hulls/screenings, and bran/midlings) and test whether the quality and value of those byproducts can be increased by ammoniating straw bales, grazing vs. haying fall forage, and milling/pelletizing hulls. We will share results and information we learn with other farmers/ranchers by creating fact sheets and hosting field days so that it can become collective knowledge and contribute to improved quality of life for farmers, ranchers, and their communities.
Project objectives from proposal:
- Evaluate the yield and quality of byproducts during Kernza® perennial grain production including:
- Summer straw/residue and fall forage grazed, hayed, or ammoniated
- Loose and pelleted Kernza® hulls/screenings
- Kernza® bran/middlings
- Determine whether grain yield, forage yield, or soil health status during Kernza® perennial grain production is affected by summer straw removal.
- Host on-farm field days and share findings through fact-sheets and websites.