CS08: Using legumes as a source of fertility in organic protected cropping systems

Soil fertility is a particular issue in organic/low input protected cropping systems because of the need for high crop offtakes to justify the infrastructure costs. The use of animal by-products (e.g. blood, hoof/horn meal) is common but this raises ethical issues. Legumes in various forms can offer an alternative:

  1. Green manures grown and incorporated in situ.
  2. Green manures grown outside the greenhouse and brought in to be used as a mulch or incorporated.
  3. Green manures grown outside the greenhouse and composted or anaerobically digested and the digestate used as a liquid feed.
  4. Pea or bean seeds ground to a flour and used as an ingredient in growing media or as a supplementary feed.

We would work closely with commercial growers (e.g. in the Organic Growers Alliance) who are already using these approaches or who have particular existing issues to identify and to overcome some of the barriers that prevent legumes being used to build fertility in protected cropping situations.

More information:

Type of legumes:  Bean meal, Pean meal

Type of farming system: Quality Chain, conventional, organic


Case Study Leader: Coventry University, UK

Type of legumes Contact person: Francis Rayns, Coventry University, Center for Agroecology, Water and Resilience