Including extra legumes, equivalent to beans, peas and lentils, to European crop rotations may present dietary and environmental advantages, scientists have discovered.
Researchers used a first-of-its-kind method to point out that the elevated cultivation of legumes may ship greater dietary worth at decrease environmental and useful resource prices.
They mentioned switching cereals for leguminous crops in European crop rotations offered extra nutrient-rich produce for each animal and human consumption.
And because of the manner that legumes develop, it additionally diminished artificial fertiliser use and air pollution.
Researchers mentioned the examine, printed in Frontiers in Sustainable Meals Programs, could assist obtain some objectives within the EU’s Farm to Fork plan, a part of the European Inexperienced Deal, which desires to chop artificial fertiliser use by 20% and emissions by 50% earlier than 2030.
First creator Marcela Porto Costa, of Bangor College, mentioned: “For instance, in Scotland, we’ve proven that the introduction of a legume crop into the standard rotation diminished exterior nitrogen necessities by nearly half while sustaining the identical output of meals measured by way of potential human vitamin.”
In distinction to different crop varieties, legumes are among the many solely crops which might be able to getting all the nitrogen they want merely from the air round them.
This is because of a symbiotic partnership with micro organism that transforms nitrogen within the air right into a type that can be utilized by crops.
Legume crops not solely don’t require fertiliser themselves, additionally they enrich the soil with nitrogen, decreasing the necessity for nitrogen fertilisers for future non-legume crops.
From a dietary perspective, the examine says that legumes are additionally one of the crucial nutrient-rich crops, offering protein, fibre, folate, iron, potassium, magnesium and nutritional vitamins.
The examine’s method is extra complete than earlier calculations of environmental footprints as a result of it compares 10 totally different crop sequences utilizing 16 totally different influence classes.
Their evaluation additionally represents a timeframe of three to five years and three totally different European climates in Italy, Romania and Scotland.
Dr David Kinds, who coordinated the examine and is predicated on the College of Limerick, mentioned: “Our progressive method goes past easy meals footprints by trying on the footprint of delivering a selected amount of human, or livestock, vitamin from all crops produced inside consultant crop rotations.
“This offers a clearer image of inter-crop results and the general effectivity of various cropping sequences in delivering nutritious meals (or livestock feed).”