In Summary
  • Legumes are protein-rich and they also increase the amount of nitrogen available to plants through biological nitrogen fixation.
  • Legumes are seen to be generally beneficial to the environment.
  • The rewards for diversifying cropping systems through the inclusion of legumes is both environmental and economic.

It’s a win-win situation for the environment and the economy when it comes to growing legumes, says a new research carried out by Legume Futures, a team of international scientists.

Across the world, including in Kenya, cereal crops dominate most farms, heaping pressure on the environment through fertiliser application.

“The introduction of legumes such as clovers, lupins, lucerne and a variety of beans can increase the sustainability of agriculture and the supply of protein,” stated Moritz Reckling of the Leibniz Centre for Agriculture Research in Germany and lead author of the study published in Frontiers in Plant Science this week.

Legumes are protein-rich and they also increase the amount of nitrogen available to plants through biological nitrogen fixation, reducing the need for fertilisers.

Reckling and co-workers created a model to determine the effects of integrating legumes into cropping systems. The team set out to evaluate the trade-offs between environmental and economic effects of legume integration.

To demonstrate applicability in different regions, they used five case study areas in Europe with contrasting climatic conditions and cropping systems.

“Legumes are seen to be generally beneficial to the environment, but they are not economically attractive to farmers when compared as single crops, so we wanted to look at the gross margins of crop rotations when legumes are integrated,” he said.

Page 1 of 2