A major aim of this conference, which was attended by 200 experts from research, farming, industry and policy, was to promote exchange of information between Germany and the rest of Europe. In this context, Dr Christine Watson’s presentation from Legume Futures aimed to give this German audience insight into the EU funded Legume Futures project.
The presentation focused on results of significance across Europe – particularly relating to the nitrogen cycle. The Legume Futures team has estimated that European pulse crops fix over 200,000 tonnes of N while forage crops with legumes fix nearly 600,000 tonnes. The research has shown large variations between legume species and even varieties of species with respect to nitrous oxide emissions. From the data Christine showed, crop yield and background soil mineral N levels are factors with high yielding legume crops tending to show the lower levels of nitrous oxide emissions.
The work on cropping systems led by ZALF in Germany showed that it is possible to develop new legume-supported cropping systems that are economically competitive. Realising these requires farmers taking a longer-term approach to cropping decisions. They will bring benefits for soil biodiversity.