Project Details


The project will investigate whether a transition from annual to perennial grain crops can become an effective way to help Sweden reach its climate target to have zero net emissions in 2045, and net-negative emissions thereafter.
Studies in USA and Sweden point to the possibility of starting to replace our annual monocultures with perennial polycultures within 10-20 years. The potential effect on soil carbon storage is enormous - theoretically such a change on Sweden's current cereal area would mean that 30% of the target was met. At the same time, such a transition could result in a wide range of positive synergies, such as a significant reduction in erosion and nutrient leaching, reduced use of pesticides, herbicides and energy in agriculture, improved economy in agricultural communities, and improved conditions for biodiversity. The first semi-commercial cultivations of the newly domesticated perennial cereal, intermediate wheatgrass (IWG, Kernza) are underway. Breeding of IWG is
progressing fast and agroecological studies are urgent.

The project has four parts: 1/ determine the theoretical
potential for carbon storage in perennial polycultures and compare with other approaches; 2/ measure fluxes of greenhouse gases in IWG and conventional rotations; 3/ model perennial polycultures to investigate options for scaling; 4/ discuss strategies for upscaling of perennial polycultures.

The last research task contains extensive work with stakeholders from the entire food chain.
Effective start/end date2022/10/012026/09/30

Collaborative partners

  • Lund University (lead)
  • Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (Joint applicant)
  • The Land Institute (Joint applicant)

UKÄ subject classification

  • Agricultural Science
  • Climate Research
  • Physical Geography
  • Social Sciences Interdisciplinary

Free keywords

  • Perennial grains
  • Soil carbon
  • Polycultures
  • Carbon storage
  • Eddy covariance
  • Kernza
  • Modelling