SALINA, Kan. (AP) — A Salina-based scientific research group has been awarded two federal grants totaling more than $650,000 that will help fund the group’s development of a perennial milo strain that can thrive in contrasting climates.
The Land Institute is receiving a $500,000 five-year grant from the U.S. Agency for International Development, and another two-year $160,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to fund the study of milo populations grown in different climates, The Salina Journal reported (http://bit.ly/15wOcLv ). The money has allowed the institute to hire a new researcher and a technician.
Milo, which is also known as sorghum, is primarily used as cattle feed and for ethanol production in the U.S. But it is a staple of many people’s diets in parts of Africa and south Asia, said Stan Cox, a senior scientist at the Land Institute, which has a breeding population of perennial milo.
The Land Institute has been working to develop grains that mimic the prairie without the need to be replanted, protecting soil from erosion and reducing the need for chemicals.
“We have grain-producing plants that are perennial but are not suitable for production. They still have a lot of wild traits,” Cox said.
Researchers at the institute are focused on “continuing breeding work to develop plants that would be suitable for producing grain,” he said.
One goal is to compare research in different climates and conditions. The research will involve working with plots in Kansas, which has bitter cold periods during the winter, and Africa, which has more of a tropical climate, so the plants won’t have to deal with frosts that cause plants to go dormant in the winter.
Information from: The Salina (Kan.) Journal, http://www.salina.com