Grain legumes and cereals - new production methods for increased protein supply in organic farming systems

Project: Research

Project Details


In addition to being a valuable protein and energy source in animal feeding, grain legumes benefit the cropping system, via biological fixation of atmospheric N2 - a fundamental process for maintaining soil fertility in organic farming systems. Other positive effects in the crop rotations are recycled N-rich crop residues and the break-crop effects in the often cereals-rich rotations. Thus, important environmental benefits can be obtained when including legumes in rotations and forage production systems while on the same time increasing productivity, reducing the use of fossil energy and thereby overall emissions of greenhouse gases.
In addition to these effects, an increased cultivation of legumes would reduce dependence on protein imports (mainly soybeans) and the associated negative effects (long transport, deforestation of tropical forests). Nevertheless the area of legumes in the European cropping systems is very low (around 5% of grain legumes and even lower in Denmark), while it is far higher (around 20%) in e.g. the USA.
The aims of the project are to i) determine the potential for grain legume production in organic cropping systems on different soil types, ii) identify eventual obstacles to the grain legume production, iii) evaluate methods, e.g. intercropping with cereals, to overcome some of the obstacles, for in-creased production of high quality grain legumes seeds, and iv) to give recommendations for species and cultivar choice depending on production system, soil type and use of grain legumes seeds in the organic animal production.
GENESIS involves a multidisciplinary research team (agroecologist, weed scientist, crop scientists, agronomists, animal nutritional physiologists, entomologist, plant pathologist, microbial ecologist, plant nutritional physiologist) from Copenhagen University, Aarhus University and DTU
Effective start/end date03/01/200031/12/2004