Swedish – American Perennial Polycultures Research Cluster

Project: NetworkInternational collaboration

Research areas and keywords

UKÄ subject classification

  • Other Agricultural Sciences


  • Perennial agriculture, Polycultures, Sustainability Science


This is a long-term agricultural research programme, initiated jointly by four research groups located at Lund University, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (SLU) in Alnarp and in Uppsala and the Land Institute in Salina, KS, USA. The aim of the programme is to begin to take perennial grain crops from a scientific vision to fully operational food systems. This requires both ingenuity and perseverance. The initiative is bold and the rewards may be extraordinary for humanity.

Our research agenda is driven by a vision of a thriving future agricultural landscape that responds to some of the most pressing problems of our time. Imagine a landscape that nourishes a growing population in a warmer world, while stewarding the soil and the diversity of plants and animals that sustain us. This landscape provides meaningful jobs moving towards a solar-based and circular economy while revitalizing rural communities and re-valuing the important work that farmers do for society. It is characterized by more localized food networks that bring producers and consumers closer together. It reduces soil disturbances and degradation, retains nutrients and therefore restores and maintains the ecological integrity of agricultural lands. It relies on the use of agrochemicals – fertilizers, herbicides and pesticides – only in exceptional cases rather than as normal practice. It is based on crop diversity in space and time and the cultivation of hardy and resilient perennial species, reducing the risks associated with extreme weather events and pest infestations. This future landscape not only protects from soil erosion and environmental pollution, it also helps mitigate climate change through decreased agricultural inputs and a significant increase in soil carbon sequestration.

This vision of a radically new agriculture is not only desirable, it is necessary. Climate change, biodiversity loss, soil degradation, environmental pollution, rural decline and decreasing economic opportunities for farmers are just some of the major challenges that the sector is facing. The necessity for a radical transformation of the agricultural sector can be described by three imperatives: the environmental imperative, the climate imperative, and the social imperative.

Swedish – American Perennial Polycultures Research Cluster (SwAPP)
Research on this long-term vision will be carried out by an emerging research cluster of four research institutions: LUCSUS (Lund University), SLU at Alnarp, SLU at Uppsala and the Land Institute in Salina, KS, USA. Each of these partners has their own competencies which complement each other. The research cluster is initially led by a core team consisting of one representative from each of the founding organisations. The mission of this group is to build a strong and functional research consortium while the organisation and operation of the research will be discussed and negotiated with funders.
Short titlePathways to a Perennial Future
Effective start/end date2018/09/01 → …