Leguminous living mulches have been shown to support a broad range of positive effects on biotic and abiotic indicators in broad-acre arable production, including soil health. With their nitrogen-fixing potential, they can also play a role in achieving sustainability goals and targets – for example, by naturally fixing nitrogen into the soil, they can help reduce dependence on artificial nitrogen fertiliser inputs, which in turn can reduce nitrous oxide emissions.
Challenges in managing leguminous living mulches like clover are the focus of this case study. After the second year, which was very different to the first, new insights are given by Stockbridge Technology Centre.
Solintagro aims to promote grain legume cultivation in Mediterranean rain fed low-input farming systems. The aim is to evaluate currently and previously grown grain legume cultivars and landraces for characteristics of importance to sustainable agriculture, giving priority to the best combination of increased yield and resistance to stresses and integrated management.
Leguminous living mulches present a potential ‘multifunctional’ solution that could provide benefits for arable production and the environment. The TRUE Case Study at STC aims to look at management of in-crop clover living mulches within crop growing seasons, and in a broad range of broad-acre crops. It evaluates the impacts of existing agronomic regimes and practices (against weeds, for example) on the living mulch and its subsequent impact on crop agronomy and soil health indicators.
TRUE Case study 22 at the Agricultural University of Athens uses legumes in crop rotations schemes in organic crops of non-legumes, aiming to increase soil fertility and ensure an adequate nitrogen supply to the crop despite the non-use of inorganic nitrogen fertilizers. This study will compare the environmental impact of organic and conventional cultivation systems and identify wider environmental effects when legumes are used in crop rotation schemes with non-legume vegetables.
Legumes are "smart" plants because they can utilize nitrogen from the atmosphere to cover their nutritional needs. Legumes do not need nitrogen fertilization as they form symbiotic relationships with rhizobia bacteria. Non-legume crops however need synthetic fertilizers to replenish the nitrogen removed from the soil. Case Study 21 at the AUA uses beans and grafting technique to obtain efficient rootstock/scion genotypes in terms of symbiotic nitrogen fixation and GHG emissions.
Across the EU 20-45 % of food is consumed outside the home. Vegetarian and vegan menus are gaining stronger footholds in the European restaurant scene and consumers want more options.This case study carried out analysis about how supply chains to the food service market are structured and how suppliers of legumes and pulses could engage in the supply chains. We find a strong focus on greening the menus to provide alternatives to meat-based dishes.