30 June, 2011. Legume Futures presentation at DG Agriculture and Rural Development of the European Commission
Legume Futures and the role of legumes in improving cropping systems was the subject of a special lecture to officials in DG Agriculture and Rural Development of the European Commission. The talk was delivered by Dr Donal Murphy-Bokern. The presentation set out the biological and ecological characteristics of legumes that make them important in cropping systems. It presented an overview of the Legume Futures project and results of past and on-going research that illustrate the opportunities legumes offer for policies to improve the environmental performance of European farming and agricultural systems. The presentation was following by one hour of discussion. The following points were raised:
The Legume Futures team accurately predicted new policy drivers and levers when the research was proposed. In particular, the protein sufficiency issues have risen up the political agenda.
Rotation related payments were discussed as a possible policy approach. The Legume Futures presentation showed clearly, based on FAO statistics, that a move to diversify crop rotations means greater interest in legumes in many situations.
The policy group was generally impressed by the range of possible environmental effects. It was emphasised that the role of the research is to test these effects. The economic analysis of public benefits is particularly relevant to CAP reform.
There were questions about the use of clover in grass. The performance of white clover grass pasture is such that nitrogen fertiliser use could be greatly reduced in relevant farming systems, particularly in western Europe.