19 January 2021
Intercropping for sustainability

Two-day Conference with AAB, DIVERSify and ReMIX at Reading University

6 September 2021
Organic World Congress 2021

New date! Postponed from September 2020

30 July 2020
ORC welcomes the National Food Strategy

The first major reviewof our food system in 75 years

24 July 2020
The future of organic farming and the environment

All to play for if full benefits of organic farming for wildlife, the environment and health are to be realised

29 April 2020
Tim Bennett is the new Chair of ORC

Former NFU president takes on chairmanship of Organic Research Centre

Using legume-based mixtures to enhance the nitrogen use efficiency and economic viability of cropping systems.



Contract period:

1 December 2009 to 29 February 2012

Main funder:


Contact staff at ORC:

Robbie Girling

Other staff involved:

Thomas Döring

Project aims

The overall aim of the project is to improve nitrogen use efficiency in UK arable systems. It aims to create a legume based mixture (LBM) that can have significantly improved resilience in fertility building and nitrogen release dynamics compared to the traditional grass/clover mixtures, over a range of environmental conditions.

By studying the growth parameters of individual legume species, and grasses in field trials, and the mixture of all trial species (the all species mixture - ASM) in participatory trials, we will better understand the potential, and the mechanisms by which a designed LBM may increase the profitability of UK arable systems, and have robust data on which to base the development of commercial seed mixes.

ORC's role

ORC is leading the project and conducting field trials on its field site in Suffolk (Wakelyns Agroforestry) and on an additional site (Barrington Park, Gloucestershire).

Key achievements

An interim summary of key messages from the project here (PDF 621KB).

The final report is available here (3.68mb pdf file)

Project leader and partners

Research Partners

Institute of Grassland and Environmental Research (IBERS)
Rothamsted Research Ltd
Scottish Agricultural College (SAC)
The Arable Group (as part of NIAB-TAG)
The Organic Studies Centre at Duchy College

Industry partners

Abacus Organic Services Ltd
Institute of Organic Training and Advice (IOTA)
Organic Farmers & Growers Ltd
Progressive Farming Trust Ltd
SAC Commercial Ltd
Scottish Organic Producers Association (SOPA) Ltd
Soil Association Certification Ltd.
The Arable Group
Wakelyns Agroforestry
Organic Seed Producers Ltd.
Soil Association Ltd.

Project output

ORC (2015) Legumes: building soil fertility. Leaflet produced for National Organic Combinable Crops 2015

Döring T (2013) Manifold green manures - Part 4: Large birdsfoot trefoil, Meadow Pea and White Sweetclover. Organic Grower 25:26-27

Döring T, Winkler L, (2013) Manifold green manures - Part 3: Black medic and lucerne. Organic Grower 24:18-19

Döring T, Boufartigue C, (2013) Manifold green manures - Part 2: Alsike and crimson clovers. Organic Grower 23:28-29

Döring T, Howlett S (2013) Manifold green manures - Part 1: Sainfoin and birdsfoot trefoil. Organic Grower 22:34-35

Döring T, Crowley O, Pearce H, Storkey J, Brown R, Jones H. 2011. A win-win for legume mixtures (PDF 310KB). Organic Farming 108: 40-41

Döring TF, Crowley O, 2011. Pick and Mix. The Organic Research Centre Bulletin 106 (PDF 1.23MB): 13-14

Döring T F. 2011. Nitrogen supply characteristics of ley and green manure species. 5th Organic Producers’ Conference, 17.-18. January 2011, Cotswold Water Park, Gloucestershire, UK

Storkey J, Döring T, Baddeley J, Marshall A, Roderick S, Jones H. 2011. Modelling the ability of legumes to suppress weeds (PDF 227KB). Aspects of Applied Biology 109: 53-58.

Henly S. 2011. Legumes help raise soil productivity. Crops March 2011, published by HGCA.

JA Baddeley, Döring T, Hatch DJ, Marshall AH, Pearce B, Roderick S, Stobart RM, Storkey J, Watson CA, Wolfe M. 2010. Using legume-based mixtures to enhance the nitrogen efficiency and economyc viability of cropping systems SAC-SEPA Biennial conference.

All sources of funding

Apart from Defra funding, the project obtains in-kind contributions from all industrial partners (see list of industry partners above).