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Legumes in cropping systems.

Book cover for Legumes in cropping systems.


This book is a contribution to the debate and knowledge for the rebalancing of farming and food using legumes. The main aim is to help people who are involved in developing cropping systems: the decision makers of today and today's students who are the decision makers of tomorrow. It is aimed at all relevant decision makers: farmers, professionals who support innovation in farming, and the policy ...


Chapter 2 (Page no: 18)

The role of legumes in bringing protein to the table.

This chapter examines the role of legumes in the provision of nitrogen and protein in the European food system. It follows the nitrogen cycle starting with a description of biological nitrogen fixation (BNF) and its role in generating reactive nitrogen that is essential to the functioning of ecosystems. From this, it describes the role of legumes in supplying protein for food and feed from this reactive nitrogen. A detailed account of sources and uses of plant protein in Europe is provided, including a consideration of the effect of diet. Grain legumes are lower yielding than cereals. Cereals, which are particularly high yielding in Europe, dominate most European cropping systems. BNF and protein formation are demanding in terms of plant energy (photosynthate) but this does not fully explain the difference in yield between cereals and legumes. The high yield of cereals has had a profound impact on European agricultural systems. Through the combination of fertilizer nitrogen, imported protein-rich crop commodities and specialization in high-yielding cereal production, Europe has achieved self-sufficiency in temperate foodstuffs, including commodities required to support high consumption of meat and dairy products. Cropping in the European Union (EU) is dominated by cereals and 57% of the cereals grown are fed to animals in the EU. The growth in the demand for plant protein by the expanding livestock sector has resulted in a 71% deficit in high-protein crop commodities, 87% of which is filled by imported soybean or soybean meal. Through the close relationship between this deficit and the production of livestock, European dietary patterns have profound implications for the global nitrogen cycle. A reduction in the production of livestock products from the current high level in Europe, in line with a reduction in consumption towards official health recommendations, has been estimated to reduce nitrogen pollution emissions from farming by about 40% and the demand for imported soy by 75%. If reducing the protein deficit is a priority, an integrated approach combining agricultural, environmental, food and trade policies is required.

Other chapters from this book

Chapter: 1 (Page no: 1) Introduction - perspectives on legume production and use in European agriculture. Author(s): Watson, C. A. Stoddard, F. L.
Chapter: 3 (Page no: 37) Nitrogen and phosphorus losses from legume-supported cropping. Author(s): Williams, M. Pappa, V. A. Rees, R.
Chapter: 4 (Page no: 55) Legume crops and biodiversity. Author(s): Everwand, G. Cass, S. Dauber, J. Williams, M. Stout, J.
Chapter: 5 (Page no: 70) Grain legumes: an overview. Author(s): Stoddard, F. L.
Chapter: 6 (Page no: 88) Lupins in European cropping systems. Author(s): Gresta, F. Wink, M. Prins, U. Abberton, M. Capraro, J. Scarafoni, A. Hill, G.
Chapter: 7 (Page no: 109) Developing soy production in central and northern Europe. Author(s): Fogelberg, F. Recknagel, J.
Chapter: 8 (Page no: 125) Legume-based green manure crops. Author(s): Baddeley, J. A. Pappa, V. A. Pristeri, A. Bergkvist, G. Monti, M. Reckling, M. Schläfke, N. Watson, C. A.
Chapter: 9 (Page no: 139) White clover supported pasture-based systems in north-west Europe. Author(s): Humphreys, J. Phelan, P. Li DeJun Burchill, W. Eriksen, J. Casey, I. Enríquez-Hidalgo, D. Søegaard, K.
Chapter: 10 (Page no: 157) Red clover in cropping systems. Author(s): Frankow-Lindberg, B.
Chapter: 11 (Page no: 168) Lucerne (alfalfa) in European cropping systems. Author(s): Julier, B. Gastal, F. Louarn, G. Badenhausser, I. Annicchiarico, P. Crocq, G. Chatelier, D. le Guillemot, E. Emile, J. C.
Chapter: 12 (Page no: 193) Mixtures of legumes for forage production. Author(s): Ćupina, B. Mikić, A. Krstić, Ð. Vujić, S. Zorić, L. Ðorđević, V. Erić, P.
Chapter: 13 (Page no: 209) Introducing legumes into European cropping systems: farm-level economic effects. Author(s): Preissel, S. Reckling, M. Bachinger, J. Zander, P.
Chapter: 14 (Page no: 226) Optimizing legume cropping: the policy questions. Author(s): Kuhlman, T. Helming, J. Linderhof, V.
Chapter: 15 (Page no: 244) Developing legume cropping: looking forward. Author(s): Murphy-Bokern, D.