Research Affiliate in Environmental Science and Policy
Contact & Office Hours
Ph.D., University of Illinois Urbana Champaign
M.Tech.; B.Tech., Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Madras, Chennai, India
Piyush Labhsetwar is interested in applying agroecological principles to our farming practices to make them sustainable and equitable. His most recent work was on development of perennial wheat at The Land Institute in Salina, KS. Perennial grain crops yield harvests for multiple years and prevent soil erosion, regenerate soil health and reduce nutrient runoff. At The Land Institute, he worked on the genetics of perennial wheat to improve its threshability and understand its vernalization requirement and photoperiod sensitivity. He also developed genomic tools to determine chromosomal composition of perennial wheat hybrids. Labhsetwar planted various perennial crops being developed at The Land Institute at an experimental plot at the Macleish Field Station to evaluate their perenniality in the Northeastern United States.
Labhsetwar’s current research involves integrating perennial crops in Agroforestry practices. He is working to establish an orchard of Pawpaw trees at Grow Food Northampton, a community farm, which will be used to study their interaction with various row crops including perennial grains.
Labhsetwar is committed to participatory methods of crop improvement. He helped to establish a civic science project to evaluate the perenniality of the latest perennial wheat lines at over 50 locations in the U.S. by engaging civic scientists. He is interested in developing participatory plant breeding methods for crops engaging farmers in the breeding process. Evolutionary plant breeding is one such technique which utilizes evolutionary forces on farms to adapt crops to local conditions while also returning seed sovereignty to the farmers. Trained as a biophysicist in graduate school, Labhsetwar returned to his familial roots in Agriculture after gardening at Randolph Street Community Garden in Champaign, IL neighborhood facing food apartheid.
Select Conference Talks
Piyush Labhsetwar, Jaime Bugle, Kathryn Turner, Shuwen Wang, Genetic Control of Threshability in Wheat x Wheatgrass Hybrids, Tri Societies Conference - San Antonio (2019)
Piyush Labhsetwar, Improving longevity and threshability of perennial wheat, International Workshop on Perennial Crops Research and Application, Yunnan University, China (2019)