Changing the future of food and farming

Research projects

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

Acronym : LegLINK

Contract Period : 01/12/2009 - 29/02/2012

Main Funder : Defra

ORC Staff Contact : Robbie Girling

The three year collaborative project aims to improve soil fertility building in leys by developing targeted species mixtures of green manures, in particular nitrogen-fixing legumes.

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 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).