Promote the use of cover crops in between corn and soybean crop rotations, with an eye toward those offering both soil health and economic return. Benefits will include improvements in long-term soil health, water quality, and farmer income, while reducing GHG emissions through carbon sequestration and reduced transport of rye from Europe and Canada to Kentucky for use in the bourbon, beer, and bread industries.
DENDRIFUND GRAIN BOARD Co-LEADS:
RYE IN KENTUCKY
(with potential for expansion into adjacent states)
Commercial quality rye was once widely cultivated in Kentucky, but – during the past several decades – production has almost entirely ceased to support programs for corn and soybean production. Bringing rye back to Kentucky as a commercial cover crop is building farmer and stakeholder excitement and awareness to the benefits of cover crops in general, engaging end-user business interest and support, improving regional soil and water quality, as well as contributing to the global conversation on solutions for carbon sequestration and reduction of greenhouse gases. It also broadens traditional thinking about how a single crop, such as corn, can be more sustainable when the entire field and seasonal rotation is considered.
Walnut Grove Farms
, University of KY
, and KY Small Grain Growers Association
have been working together for over thirty years to bring added commercial value to cover crops. In the last several years they have taken on research and development of rye as a commercial cover crop with additional support from DendriFund, Brown-Forman
, and American Farmland Trust
DendriFund is proud to be a part of this joint action as we believe it creates ripple effect:
- Shared Learning: On-farm research with university and end user partners inspires ideas and deeper understanding in the context of scalability and economic realities.
- Building Relationships: Convening unlikely and often “competing” farmers, businesses, and non-profits to solve sustainability issues in a pre-competitive environment builds trust, credibility and accelerates synergies and broader adoption.
- Fueling Collaboration: Working simultaneously with farmers, researchers and end users to develop a field to market flavors and sustainability solutions while spreading out the risk that comes with innovation generates break-through ideas and support not achievable alone.
New partners and financial supporters are wanted as we expand this program to build broader supply and demand stakeholder networks – including bourbon, beer, and bread end-user, private and foundation investors, researchers, associations, and other interested supporters. American Farmland Trust (AFT) is taking a lead role to organize a multi-stakeholder group to accelerate the commercialization of KY grown rye with ambitions to impact at least 27 farmers with about 3,000 acres of rye produced and sold in Kentucky. For more information, to join in partnership, or to donate, contact Billy Van Pelt, AFT Director of External Relations-Southeast, at email@example.com or at 859-983-8118.
More information can also be found on Todd Barker’s blog on the Rye Initiative
Courier-Journal article (July 18, 2019), "Could Kentucky-grown rye whiskey challenge our insatiable thirst for bourbon?"
You can also watch this panel discussion facilitated by DendriFund board director, Todd Barker, from the Southeastern Grain Gathering (SEGG
) organized by the University of KY.