Legumes contribute to protein self-sufficiency and the sustainability of diets. They diversify cropping systems and farm businesses while reducing fertiliser and pesticide use, greenhouse gas emissions, land degradation and biodiversity loss. Nevertheless, grain legume production in Europe is low, partly due to sub-optimal management practices and gaps in farmers’ knowledge.
The LegumeGap project focuses on faba bean for cool climates and soybean for warm regions. Field experiments have shown the yield potential of soybean in Germany, Poland and northern Spain. Other field experiments have tested the potential for irrigation, reduced tillage, cover cropping and microbial inoculation to stabilize yields. Literature analysis has quantified the yield benefit from practices such as providing honeybees to pollinate faba bean crops and relieving soil compaction. Crop models have been improved, enabling better prediction of faba and soybean productivity in Europe as climate changes.