Using diverse legume mixtures can simultaneously fulfil several functions in the rotation, such as building soil fertility, enhancing weed control, and supporting biodiversity. This was demonstrated by a research project called Legume LINK, which was led by the Organic Research Centre from 2008 to 2012. Modelling work in the project showed that a well-performing basic mix would be a combination of black medic, lucerne and red clover; including white clover as a fourth leguminous component would improve the resilience of the mix.
In addition, however, several more legume species are available that could enhance the multifunctionality of this basic mix. In the first of a series of articles in The Organic Grower, we provide profiles of currently less frequently used legume species that could be included in fertility-building species mixes to make them more suited to specific soil, climate and management conditions. In the first article Thomas Döring and Sally Howlett write on sainfoin (Onobrychis viciifolia) and birdsfoot trefoil (Lotus corniculatus).
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Thanks to The Organic Growers Alliance for permission to use the article
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