MacArthur Fellows Program

Wes Jackson

Agronomist | Class of 1992

Salina, Kansas
56 at time of award
Area of Focus
Food and Agriculture
Published July 1, 1992

About Wes' Work

Wes Jackson is the founder and co-director of the Land Institute, a nonprofit organization in Salina, Kansas.

Under Jackson’s direction, the Land Institute is known for its pioneering work in Natural Systems Agriculture, an ecologically sound and perennial food-grain-producing system.  Reaching beyond the species studied by most agronomists, Jackson has focused on long-term, genetic selection to locate forgotten sources of disease resistance, perennialism, and drought tolerance.  Using techniques such as materials recycling and solar energy, he combines these traits of natural ecosystems with the food-yielding properties of more conventional species to produce vigorous hybrids.  His method of agriculture mitigates soil erosion, lessens agrochemical contamination of land and water, and cuts demand for fossil fuels, making conservation a nearly effortless consequence of crop production.


Jackson’s work at the Institute includes informing educational institutions and the public about the benefits and feasibility of Natural Systems Agriculture.  His articles have been published in such journals as Agriculture, Ecosystems and Environment and Critical Reviews in Plant Sciences.

Jackson received a B.A. (1958) from Kansas Wesleyan University, an M.A. (1960) from the University of Kansas, and a Ph.D. (1967) from North Carolina State University.

Last updated January 1, 2005

Select News Coverage of Wes Jackson
August 14, 2019
"With New Perennial Grain, a Step Forward for Eco-Friendly Agriculture"
Yale Environment 360
Wes Jackson , 1992 MacArthur Fellow
October 22, 2013
"Now This Is Natural Food"
The New York Times
Wes Jackson, 1992 MacArthur Fellow
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