Sustainable agriculture through perennial grains: wheat, rice, maize, and other species. A review
UNIVERSAL IDENTIFIER: http://hdl.handle.net/11093/2879
EDITED VERSION: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.agee.2021.107747
DOCUMENT TYPE: article
Grain crops are an important part of the human diet, accounting for a third of the consumed calories. Throughout human history, annual grain crops with high yields have been obtained through domestication. However, the “annual” characteristic brings associated a series of economic and environmental disadvantages, such as soil erosion or low soil resources use, that can be solved if the agriculture of annual varieties evolves towards perenniality. For this reason, there are numerous research groups dedicated to study and obtain perennial varieties of the most cultivated grain crops. In this review article, we have summarized the most important advances related to the subject, focusing on the domestication and hybridization of the most productive grains globally: wheat, rice, maize, rye and sorghum. We highlight their benefits for sustainable agriculture worldwide due to perennial grains may contribute to reducing erosion, acting avoiding carbon losses, reducing nutrient losses to waters or capturing nutrients deeper in soil when they are scarce, reducing farm costs and thus, increasing the effectiveness of agricultural grain crops. Despite perennial grain crops having disadvantages, they possess outstanding characteristics which make them resilient crops to deal with the imminent climate change. However, maintaining the perenniality trait without reducing genetic biodiversity is a great challenge of current scientific importance that must be deeply considered.
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