Increasing productivity and sustainability of European plant protein production by closing the grain legume yield gap
The potential of legumes to simultaneously contribute to several production, environmental, and nutritional objectives, is well known by science and policy. Legumes contribute to increased European protein self-sufficiency, diversification of cropping systems and farm businesses, reduction in fertilizer and pesticide use and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, enhancement of sustainable diets, and prevention of land degradation and biodiversity loss. Despite these widely recognized benefits, grain legume production in Europe is still low, partly due to inadequate investment in breeding, sub-optimal management practices, and gaps in farmers’ knowledge. To ensure food and nutritional security under climate change and reduce pressures on natural resources, the potential of legumes must be fully utilized.
The LegumeGap project will contribute in this direction by identifying the potential contribution of new cultivars, optimal management practices, and farmers’ knowledge in closing the yield and protein gaps, reducing the observed yield variability and EU-level protein shortfall, and optimizing the environmental performance of legume production in Europe. We will focus on two key representative legumes: faba bean and soya bean, due to their growing popularity, broad adaptability and high protein concentration in the seeds.
A systems approach will be employed, where biophysical and socio-economic limitations, opportunities, and their interaction are taken into account. The innovative combination of different methodological approaches, including modelling, field experiments, a large scale farmer survey, and data analysis, will allow us to deliver more than their individual parts and to identify and recommend ways by which the potential of these two crops can be maximised.
Ten partners from eight countries will make use of their expertise in modelling, breeding, soil science, agronomy, geography and socio-economics to achieve in an interdisciplinary manner the objectives outlined below:
The innovation of LegumeGap lies in its synergistic methodological integration and its detailed focus on the breeding, management, and knowledge innovation gaps of the two most productive grain legumes, faba bean and soya bean. By covering all of the main European agroclimatic regions, as well as the pan-European level, LegumeGap will reveal environmental and socio-economic opportunities and constraints for enhancing the potential of grain legume production across Europe and point towards novel measures for resilient, legume-supported cropping systems, contributing to sustainable intensification under the challenge of global change.
Prof Frederick Stoddard
University of Helsinki, Department of Agricultural Sciences, FINLAND
Prof Sonoko Bellingrath-Kimura
Humboldt University of Berlin, Faculty of Life Sciences, GERMANY
Dr Johann Bachinger
Leibniz Centre for Agricultural Landscape Research (ZALF), Research Area 2; Land Use and Governance, GERMANY
Dr Sylwia Lewandowska
Wrocław University of Environmental and Life Sciences, Faculty of Life Sciences and Technology, Department of Genetics, Plant Breeding and Seed Production, POLAND
Prof Ina Alsiņa
Latvia University of Life Sciences and Technologies (Latvia University of Agriculture), Institute of Soil and Plant Sciences, LETTLAND
Prof Christine Watson
Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC), Crop & Soil Systems Research Group, UK
Dr Etienne-Pascal Journet
INRA, Environment and Agronomy, FRANCE
Dr Nynke Schulp
Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, Environmental Geography Group, Institute for Environmental Studies, NETHERLANDS
Dr Daniel Plaza-Bonilla
University of Lleida, Crop and Forest Sciences, SPAIN
Mr Sébastien Chatre
RAGT SEMENCES, RAGT2n, Research and Development, FRANCE
Halwani, M., Reckling, M., Schuler, J., Bloch, R., & Bachinger, J. (2019). Soybean in no-till cover-crop systems. Agronomy, 9(12), 883.
Muktadir, M. A., Adhikari, K. N., Merchant, A., Belachew, K. Y., Vandenberg, A., Stoddard, F. L., & Khazaei, H. (2020). Physiological and biochemical basis of faba bean breeding for drought adaptation—A review. Agronomy, 10(9), 1345.
Reckling, M., Bergkvist, G., Watson, C. A., Stoddard, F. L., & Bachinger, J. (2020). Re-designing organic grain legume cropping systems using systems agronomy. European Journal of Agronomy, 112, 125951.
Egamberdieva, D., Ma, H., Reckling, M., Omari, R. A., Wirth, S., & Bellingrath-Kimura, S. D. (2022). Interactive Effects of Biochar, Nitrogen, and Phosphorous on the Symbiotic Performance, Growth, and Nutrient Uptake of Soybean (Glycine maxL.). Agronomy, 12(1), 27.