Legumes have historically played a central role in Euro-pean agriculture, generating critically important inputs of nitrogen to support crop growth and providing feed for livestock in the form of forage and grain legumes.
Grain legumes are now grown on only 1.8% of arable land in Europe compared with 4.6% fifty years ago. In the forage sector legumes have largely given way to heavily fertilised grassland over the same period. This sits against a growing European demand for meat and an increasing reliance on imported soya for livestock production.
The Legume Futures project set out to deliver knowledge and technology for the optimisation of the use of legumes in European agricultural systems and to promote the partnerships needed to deliver the policy outcomes sought.
We used a combination of case studies, modelling and new data to improve understanding of robust rotation and system design for improved legume production, quantification of the potential ecosystem services delivered by legumes and the economics of legume production across the EU. Fundamental to the integrated outcome of the project, we also addressed the policy background and options for policy support within Europe.