Dr. Doug Cattani, Plant Science, received the recognition in the category of Innovation and Research for Sustainability at a special ceremony at the Manitoba Legislature.
Dr. Cattani has engaged in developing major research advancements on intermediate wheatgrass, which is a sod-forming perennial grass. Since 2010, Cattani has been a leader in a collaborative international project known as Kernza that involves scientists and specialists from state and provincial government agricultural agencies, the Land Institute based in Kansas and scientists from around the world. Its mission is to apply non-genetically modified organism (GMO) selection and inter-mating techniques to increase yield and disease resistance in perennial crops and to create perennial versions of annual crops.
The root depth will sequester more carbon than a traditional crop. It will also reduce greenhouse-gas emissions because perennial crops do not require annual seeding. The project will reduce fertilizer application and run-off, reducing the contamination of the freshwater and marine ecosystems. Producing a dense crop canopy minimizes the need for tillage (less soil disturbance = less erosion) and less herbicide applications (less run-off) and providing a strong food nutritional profile (higher protein level relative to conventional wheat).