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9th, 10th, 11th, 12th, AP® / College


Science, Earth and Space Sciences, English Language Arts

Resource Types

  • Articles and Websites
  • Charts, Graphs, and Tables

Regional Focus


Perennial Staple Crops

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  • This article explores the benefits of planting perennial staple crops such as bananas and avocados rather than annual staple crops such as maize, wheat, potatoes, and soybeans.
  • Several benefits of perennial staple crops are discussed, such as higher yields, carbon sequestering, and the ability to thrive under harsh conditions. 
  • The projected data is analyzed to provide evidence for a cost-efficient plan involving substituting perennial staple crops whenever and wherever possible. 
Teaching Tips


  • The information is formatted like a scientific paper, with a clear cause-and-effect framework.
  • Helpful sidebars present numerical data with easy-to-understand graphics and include a call to action for students.
  • Students and teachers can easily share this article via social media.

Additional Prerequisites

  • The vocabulary is rigorous, so a definition list is appropriate.
  • Students should have a basic understanding of "hectare" versus "acre" since the data is in hectares.


  • Probability and statistics connections can be made in math classes, as there are several data points to evaluate costs, benefits over time, and effects on the climate.
  • Students in English or language arts classes can use the article to evaluate the author's purpose and scientific writing styles or as practice for reading more complex scientific papers.
  • For small-group instruction, students can work together by taking notes on each section and creating questions about their assigned portion.  Then, students can trade questions with other groups, ending with a student-led discussion.
  • This article is relevant for any discussion related to perennial versus annual crops and the effects of each on the environment. Students can also research other agricultural solutions from the Table of Solutions.
Scientist Notes
This resource presents a scenario analysis of planting perennial staple crops on nondegraded grassland and cropland. Perennial staple crops have the two-fold benefit of providing needed foods such as avocados and palm oil at a higher yield than annual staples and sequestering carbon. The article considers two scenarios for the initial cost, operational costs, profit, and carbon sequestration. The authors assume that perennial staple crops will only be planted on nondegraded grassland and cropland rather than on cleared forests but admit that forests are often cleared to plant these crops. This resource is well sourced, clear, and is recommended for teaching.
  • Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS)
    • ESS3: Earth and Human Activity
      • HS-ESS3-1 Construct an explanation based on evidence for how the availability of natural resources, occurrence of natural hazards, and changes in climate have influenced human activity.
      • HS-ESS3-3 Create a computational simulation to illustrate the relationships among management of natural resources, the sustainability of human populations, and biodiversity.
    • LS2: Ecosystems: Interactions, Energy, and Dynamics
      • HS-LS2-7 Design, evaluate, and refine a solution for reducing the impacts of human activities on the environment and biodiversity.
    • LS4: Biological Evolution: Unity and Diversity
      • HS-LS4-6 Create or revise a simulation to test a solution to mitigate adverse impacts of human activity on biodiversity.
  • College, Career, and Civic Life (C3) Standards
    • Dimension 2: Economics
      • D2.Eco.1.9-12 Analyze how incentives influence choices that may result in policies with a range of costs and benefits for different groups.
  • Common Core English Language Arts Standards (CCSS.ELA)
    • Reading: Informational Text (K-12)
      • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RI.11-12.1 Cite strong and thorough textual evidence to support analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text, including determining where the text leaves matters uncertain.
      • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RI.11-12.4 Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, including figurative, connotative, and technical meanings; analyze how an author uses and refines the meaning of a key term or terms over the course of a text (e.g., how Madison defines faction in Federalist No. 10).
    • Reading: Science & Technical Subjects (6-12)
      • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RST.11-12.6 Analyze the author's purpose in providing an explanation, describing a procedure, or discussing an experiment in a text, identifying important issues that remain unresolved.
    • Writing: History, Science & Technical Subjects (6-12)
      • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.WHST.11-12.7 Conduct short as well as more sustained research projects to answer a question (including a self-generated question) or solve a problem; narrow or broaden the inquiry when appropriate; synthesize multiple sources on the subject, demonstrating understanding of the subject under investigation.
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