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How year-round crops could reduce farm pollution in the Mississippi River

The Forever Green Initiative at the University of Minnesota is developing 16 new crops to keep landscapes covered, and water cleaner


August 2, 2022

Shari L. Gross, Star Tribune

Ed Schiefelbein, left, and Guillermo Velasquez harvest barley grown in the University of Minnesota field, Friday, July 8, 2022 in St. Paul, Minn. The University of Minnesota is working on several alternative crops through its Forever Green program. ] SHARI L. GROSS /

Don Wyse's field of winter barley used to be mostly empty in the spring.

Eight years ago, just a tenth of the grain would survive the winter in this experimental field in St. Paul. But this year, after repeatedly refining the plant's genetics, the field was flush with swaying, pale yellow grain heads.

The winter is the first hurdle that researchers at the University of Minnesota's Forever Green Initiative must clear as they attempt to breed new crops that can cover farm fields year round – and in the process, help water quality across the state.


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