Perennial crops offer opportunities for dual-purpose production – the vegetative growth can be grazed for part of the year and the grain harvested in late spring.
The Future Farm Industries CRC is researching the potential of several perennial crops, including perennial wheat. The Perennial Wheat project aims to create a dual-purpose wheat by crossing a native perennial grass with domesticated wheat. At this stage, the project has provided proof of the concept of perennial crops, rather than a commercial cultivar. There is concern that perennial crops may present a disease risk, through a ‘green bridge’ from one season to the next. In assessing this risk, traits for disease resistance have been discovered that could be important to future breeding of annual cereal crop varieties, not just perennial crops.
Developing perennial crops has many advantages for Australian farming systems. Crops in broadacre systems have traditionally been winter-active annual crops with shallow roots. Perennial crops have deeper root systems and larger root biomass. They are able to make greater use of soil water and minimise nutrient leaching while reducing soil erosion, weeds and the need for agrochemical and energy inputs. Perennial crops, like other perennial plants in farming systems, can take advantage of out-of-season rainfall to provide valuable forage and grain. They provide environmental benefits, such as sequestering carbon and preventing erosion and salination.
Woody crops are a perennial crop with great potential for farm income diversification and natural resource management in medium to low rainfall regions. The Future Farm Industries CRC uses the term woody crop to describe short cycle coppicing and harvesting of trees planted for biomass production and grown interspersed with crops and pastures. Woody crops are different from agroforestry and conventional forestry because of their spacing across the farm and adaptation to lower rainfall regions.
Below is a link to a historical document relevant to Perennial Crops.
This website contains information about the CRC’s research into perennial plant based farming systems.
This site will remain live until 30 June 2017 but is no longer being updated or reviewed.
Further information about CRC research projects can be obtained by following links from relevant project pages or by viewing the research transfer page.
The CRC was funded for seven years (2007-2014) under the Australian Government Cooperative Research Centre program.