Grain legumes (GL) such as peas, beans and lentils provide valuable ecosystem services via the provision of high-quality food and feed, symbiotic nitrogen fixation and diversification of cropping systems. Intercropping (IC) of GL with cereals is an efficient method used to enhance resilience in agriculture, achieve high and stable combined yields with low input, reduce weed and pest problems, improve product quality and reduce environmental and climate impacts of the cropping system. However, despite these benefits, IC for production of mature grain is rarely adopted by Swedish farmers. This project will explore barriers and market opportunities for Swedish organic farmers to adopt IC methods and, consequently, possibilities to improve the sustainability and resilience of Swedish GL-based food and feed production. Design and evaluation of IC systems for lentil and faba bean, including tests of different GL varieties and cultivation technologies, will be performed in a participatory learning and action (PLA) process with organic farmers. Attitudes and lock-in effects influencing IC and use of intercropped products will be investigated in focus groups with representatives for farmers, support agencies, wholesalers and retailers. The results will provide relevant knowledge concerning the problems, market opportunities and technical solutions for increasing intercropping and the sustainable production of GLs in Swedish organic agriculture.
Funding: Formas (2015-2017)
SLU collaborator: Erik Hunter (dep. Work Science, Economy and Environmental Psychology)
Partners: Per Modig, the Swedish Rural Economy and Agricultural Society of Kristianstad (Hushållningssällskapet Kristianstad)
Publications: in preparation
Photos: Erik Steen Jensen