On September 8, 2017, the City of Chatfield, Minn., announce that it is working in cooperation with the University of Minnesota and the Minnesota Rural Water Association to determine the viability of Kernza®, an intermediate wheatgrass.
On Tuesday, September 12, Kernza® was planted on three acres of land that the city owns, near the intersection of Olmsted County Road 10 and 155th Avenue SE. A slightly larger plot was planted on private property just south of that location on the same day. This was the first planting of this crop in southeast Minnesota and one of just a few plots throughout Minnesota.
The City of Chatfield is interested in this crop as part of the city’s efforts to protect its drinking water supply from the effects of nitrogen. As a perennial crop with a dense root structure, Kernza® requires less nitrogen than other crops and effectively decreases the amount of nitrogen leaching to the groundwater. According to the city’s Wellhead Protection Plan manager, Ryan Priebe, “This is the type of strategy that will help assure our residents of safe drinking water long into the future.”
The development of intermediate wheatgrass into a viable crop in Minnesota is part of the Forever Green Initiative of the University of Minnesota’s College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences. This initiative is designed to develop new crops for high efficiency agricultural systems, improved soil and water quality, and new economic opportunities for farmers, industry, and rural Minnesotans.