Work package leader: Fred Stoddard, University of Helsinki
The overall objective of WP1 is to provide a network of field experiments and draw upon related experience to deliver case studies of legume-supported cropping systems and to support other parts of the project with experimental data. The network of 18 field experiment sites extends across Europe. Existing field experiments have been supplemented with new experiments on bioremediation, biocontrol in the Mediterranean region, salinity management in Greece, and organic rotations in Romania.
The research will also quantify biological nitrogen fixation in the relevant cropping systems.
Data gathering and transfer
An important first step was the establishment of common sampling protocols and record-keeping procedures across the Legume Futures sites. In order to make use of the existing data from the 18 sites and to allow valid comparisons between them, we have harmonized terminology and methods. Crop production activities need to be quantified in a standard way, and the data on grain yield, dry matter yield, harvest index, forage yield, and growth analysis of legume crops and of non-legume crops in the mixture or subsequently in the rotation all required harmonization.
In addition, the sites needed to be characterised in a standard way. This includes meteorological data: daily maximum and minimum temperatures, rainfall, hours of sunshine or photosynthetically active radiation (PAR). These data are complemented by information on economic costs of production, values of outputs, and data on the significant pathogens, pests and weeds (species, severity), as control of these affects the economic and ecological cost-benefit relationships of the legume crop.
In addition to experimental data, analysis of each site supports a case study of the interactions between legume and environment. These case studies vary in detail depending on the historical structure, purposes, depth and breadth of the experiments. The case studies attempt to capture some of the expertise of the scientists and to put the work in a regional, national, and sometimes supra-national perspective.
Assessment of non-food and novel feed uses
We are also quantifying potentials for bioremediation, biofumigation and bioenergy uses and compile information on uses of protein extracts for fish feed and of new quality cultivars for feeding monogastrics and poultry.
We will assess the potential use of legumes by the regional feed sector, with particular attention to (a) value-adding by fractionation or biorefining of bioactive compounds, leaving a residue for high-quality feed use, and (b) the fish-feed industry, for which the high value of isolates of lupin and faba bean proteins has already been shown on a small scale.
All but two partners are involved in WP1, with tasks led by Kristina Lindström and Fred Stoddard (University of Helsinki) and Arja Nykänen (MTT).