The Land Institute held its annual Prairie Festival September 23 - 25, 2016 in Salina, Kansas. It was a wonderful celebration of the founding and incredible growth of The Land Institute. Speakers chronicled the development of a strong community of people that have united around a central idea presented in Wes Jackson's 1980 book New Roots for Agriculture and subsequent papers - that agricultural systems should mimic natural ecosystems that consist largely of perennial plants growing in polyculture which have evolved over millennia as resilient, sustainable systems. Presenters included former and present Land Institute board members, Land Institute scientists, and scholars from across the country. Four members of our group attended the Prairie Festival this year: Allison, Claudia (SLU postdoc), Sterling (SLU MS student), and Samantha (SLU undergrad).
The event was covered by the Salina Journal here.
The schedule is available here.
Saturday presentations are available here (including Allison's update on the inventory project).
Sunday presentations (including Wendell Berry, Wes Jackson, and Fred Iutzi) are available here.
20th Eucarpia General Congress "Plant Breeding: The Art of Bringing Science to Life" Zurich Switzerland, August 2016
The 20th Eucarpia General Congress, entitled “Plant Breeding: The Art of Bringing Science to Life”, drew 432 members to the ETH Zurich in Switzerland. The Congress started with inspiring introduction emphasizing several themes: 1) feeding a growing population in a changing climate in a sustainable way is a significant global challenge; 2) vital relationship between basic and applied plant science, 3) reconciling agriculture with the environment, including organic agriculture and the use of cover crops; 4) that plant genetic resources are the raw materials for plant breeding and must be conserved and made accessible to breeders; 5) that there are a range of approaches breeders are using to develop new crops including conventional breeding, mutation-based breeding, and genetic modification; 6) that there is a need to train the next generation of breeders; and 7) that federal and global regulations are impacting activities of plant breeding including those dealing with food safety, plant variety patents/intellectual property, technologies used in plant breeding, labeling products, and discovery of, access to and transfer of wild materials for breeding. From this introduction it was clear that all attendees had a singular focus: to harness natural plant biodiversity and cutting edge research tools to develop high-quality, affordable, safe plants that can be grown as sustainably as possible. It was also clear that there is extensive consideration and experimentation taking place on how best to do this. Postdoc Claudia Ciotir and I attended the Eucarpia meeting with three specific goals in mind 1) to get the word out about the work of The Land Institute and the Perennial Agriculture Project Global Inventory (PAPGI) through presentations; 2) to meet European plant breeders and germplasm conservation scientists; and 3) to learn more about global plant genomic resources and their accessibility. It was a great meeting!
Miller Lab members