AURI, in partnership with the Stearns County Soil and Water Conservation District (SCSWCD), advanced efforts to develop Kernza value chains for both food and non-food uses. This continuation of work began with an earlier investment of LCCMR funds related to Kernza and the potential to create a market for perennial crops offering a multitude of ecosystem services. Kernza studies have shown benefits including soil health regeneration, erosion prevention, habitat and perhaps most critical to the work in this study – water quality improvements. The City of Cold Spring in Central Minnesota has long struggled with sourcing water with lower nitrate content and has invested in expensive infrastructure to remove contaminants. Kernza could potentially grow in areas north of Cold Spring that have been designated as a wellhead protection area.
This project partnered with private landowners to grow the Kernza. AURI’s efforts focused on creating a value chain for local Kernza processing and demand. The reason was simple: if strong demand existed, farmers could see incentives to grow the crop through market forces.
To download the full Kernza® Perennial Grain Value Chain Development in Central Minnesota report, click here.