The Roundup -

WREC Perennial Field Day to be Held September 26th


September 4, 2019 | View PDF

Kernza head next to a wheat head. (Photo submitted).

On Thursday, September 26th, the NDSU Williston Research Extension Center (WREC) will be hosting its first-ever Perennial Field Day. The event will start at 9:00 a.m. central time and conclude with a provided lunch at 12:00 p.m.

Topics that will be discussed at the event include: Kernza Management and Research, Developing the Kernza Supply Chain with Chris Wiegert of Healthy Food Ingredients, Saline Seep Formation and Management with Jane Holzer of the Montana Salinity Control Association, Groundwater and Soil Monitoring in Saline Seep with Jim Staricka of WREC, and Salt-tolerant Alfalfa Variety Performance at the WREC.

Clair Keene, an Extension Specialist in Cropping Systems at the WREC, is the organizer for this event. She said, "I wanted to highlight the work I am doing with a new perennial grain crop called Kernza that was funded by a North Dakota Agricultural Products Utilization Committee (APUC) grant and the work that I along with Jim Staricka and Kyle Dragseth have been doing on a saline seep reclamation project and salt-tolerant alfalfa variety trial assessment."

Kernza head up close. (Photo submitted)

Keene hopes to introduce farmers to Kernza and help them understand how to manage saline seeps to prevent profit loss. "Kernza is under development and has huge potential for protecting soil against erosion, reducing production costs, and improving soil health. Kernza is intermediate wheatgrass (Thinopyrum intermedium) that has been bred intensively for increased seed size and yield for the past 15 years by plant breeders at The Land Institute in Salina, Kansas and the University of Minnesota. I think we may be able to use it as a dual-purpose crop here, meaning we could get a cutting of forage off of it and still harvest grain in the same year. I'm excited to talk about Kernza because I think it has a lot of potential for this area. I'm doing a variety trial with it here and plan to do some more trials this fall and next year. On the topic of saline seeps, I want farmers to learn that salinity problems are due to inefficient water use and to address them, they need to manage the water table with continuous cropping and perennial crops," explained Keene.

Area growers will benefit from attending this event by learning about how Kernza could potentially help them spread risk over both forage and a grain crop. They will also learn how to manage saline seeps better. "Better managing saline seeps is important because farmers can lose a lot of money on saline soils when they try to farm them the same as productive parts of their fields: spending money on fertilizer, seeds, and herbicides that don't give you anything back in yield is a bad management strategy, and I want them to learn about more profitable options like salt-tolerant forages," added Keene. For more information on this event, you can contact the WREC at 701-774-4315.


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