Last changed: 26 April 2024

This project aim to develop a strong research platform for perennial cereal production systems in Scandinavia, Finland and the Baltic, henceforward referred to as the Northern countries. The platform will deliver scientific knowledge serving stakeholders along the entire value chain, from policy makers and authorities, through advisors and extension services to individual farmers and representatives from the food industry.

Kernza Lönnstorp1.JPG

The project will contribute to strengthened research collaboration between Sweden, Norway, Finland, Estonia, Lithuania, and Denmark to explore the adaptation and potential of grain and forage production and quality of Kernza across the Nordic and Baltic region. Our research will test a range of agronomic management questions including benefits of intercropping with legumes, optimal N fertilisation, and optimal harvest schedule for forage, and climate impact. Grain and forage quality will be assessed to inform on the potential and suitable usages of the products. We will engage an international network of diverse stakeholders including farmers, food industry, advisors, and policy makers to explore the feasibility of this new crop in the region. Field experiments and demonstration sites will serve as inspiration and information transfer places.

In the Northern countries, grain and forage production based on annual cereal crops are often resource- and tillage-demanding with a range of negative environmental and soil health consequences. Furthermore, yields of annual cereal crops are severely affected by the increasing temperature following climate change. On the other side, Kernza- lucerne intercrops provided sustained grain production under the dry conditions of 2018, which was associated with a higher nitrogen accumulation under the intercropped practice but also with a higher water use efficiency. Designing perennial cereal production systems requires knowledge on the expected interactive response of productivity on both management and local growing conditions. Thus, in this project we pose the following research questions:

  • How does Kernza respond to the growing conditions in the Northern countries?
  • What are the effects of intercropping with legume species on Kernza grain and forage production at different fertiliser levels?
  • When targeting grain production, how does intercropping increase the suitability of the remaining straw as forage?
  • Is there an interaction between intercropping, N fertilisation, and the environment (site)?
  • Which qualities do the grain and forage have under different management settings and, thus, which are the potential areas of application along the value chain in the food industry?
  • Which climate impact does Kernza production systems have?

Work packages

WP 1 - Kernza cultivation systems for grain production. Lead: Lars T. Havstad (NO), co-lead: Linda-Maria D. Mårtensson (SE)

WP 2 - Kernza harvest management system for forage yield and nutritive value. Lead: Evelin Loit (EE), co-lead: Katarina Arvidsson Segerkvist (SE)

WP 3 - Winter hardiness and adaptation to growth conditions in Nordic-Baltic countries. Lead: Marjo Keskitalo (FI), co-lead: Evelin Loit (EE) and Zita Kriauciuniene (LT)

WP 4 - Estimated climate impact in Kernza production systems. Lead: Thomas Prade (SE), co-lead: Linda-Maria D. Mårtensson (SE)

WP 5 - Demonstration sites with stakeholders and outreach. Lead: Evelin Loit (EE), co-lead: Marjo Keskitalo (FI) and Helle Hestbjerg (DK)



Project leader: Linda-Maria Dimitrova Mårtensson

Project partners:

Lars T. Havstad, Norwegian Institute of Bioeconomy research (NIBIO);

Evelin Loit, Estonian University of Life Sciences;

Katarina Arvidsson Segerkvist, SLU;

Marjo Keskitalo, The Natural Resources Institute Finland (Luke);

Zita Kriaučiūnienė, The Experimental Station of Vytautas Magnus University Agriculture Academy;

Thomas Prade, SLU;

Valentin Picasso, SLU


Subject area: Sustainable Cropping Systems