The Land Institute’s Brandon Schlautman joins the show about the work he is doing to breed perennial pulses. Brandon is the lead scientist of the perennial legumes program at the Land Institute which is based in Salina, KS. The 40 year old non-profit ag research institute tries to find solutions that balance short term economic realities with long term conservation goals. They’re known for their work in kernza, and hope to make similar progress in pulses. In this episode we talk about why developing a perennial pulse crop is worthwhile, where they started down this road, how they settled on sainfoin for the perennial pulse development, and the road ahead towards commercialization.

“My program at The Land Institute focuses on perennial pulses and we’re exploring various candidates and are starting to work towards something that can kind of mimic a pea or a chickpea or a lentil, but be something that has living roots in the ground year round, and gonna make it through our winters and recover and always be there. It’s kind of a plant once and harvest many times type of deal.” -Brandon Schlautman

So when Brandon arrived at The Land Institute, one of his early challenges was to find the most promising perennial legumes to consider for commercial development. This open ended task was the first step to narrowing it down to a plant he could work with. He eventually settled on sainfoin. One big plus about sainfoin, is that it actually is already grown in some areas as a commercial crop. But settling on sainfoin is just one of the many challenges of bringing this new crop to production. The hope is this will find a premium market, reduce soil disturbance, and thrive on minimal inputs. 

“There are a couple thousand acres of production in the western part of the US. And I really like that there’s a sainfoin seed industry already. We’ve talked with multiple growers in Montana that they grow and clean seed and sell it to other producers mostly for forage production. So we have some of this knowledge about how sainfoin can be grown and how to do the seed production. The eating it is the next step and so we’re excited.” – Brandon Schautman

This Week on Growing Pulse Crops:

Growing Pulse Crops Podcast is hosted by Tim Hammerich of the Future of Agriculture Podcast.