Grain legumes are valuable and health-promoting sources of protein for human consumption, but despite the many services that legumes offer, they have a relatively weak role in European agriculture. Several factors, including insufficient investments in breeding, have contributed to lower and more variable yields and profitability of legumes, compared to many other crops. This relationship reduces legumes’ attractiveness to farmers and has limited their availability for consumers to a level far below its potential. The overall aim in LEGATO is to promote the culture of grain legumes in Europe by identifying priority issues currently limiting grain legume cultivation and devising solutions in term of novel varietal development, culture practices, and food uses. The project has a focus on the identification and testing of novel legume breeding lines possessing valuable characters such as disease and pest resistance and quality for human consumption. The selection of these lines will also be optimized for low-input agriculture by the design and assessment of innovative legume-based cropping systems.
SLUs contribution in LEGATO is concentrated in research about cropping system management. The work includes ex-ante ("before the event") assessment of new cropping systems, to identify attractive solutions for cropping system diversification (crop rotation sequences, intercropping and variety mixtures) that are adapted to local pedoclimatic zones. The design and evaluation of innovative cropping system prototypes will be based on the consultation of local expert panels (including farmers and advisors) and the use of a qualitative multi-attribute decision model for ex ante assessment of the sustainability of cropping systems (MASC®). The productivity, yield and stability in relation to biotic and environmental stresses of selected cropping systems will be evaluated in field trials. The abundance, diversity and symbiotic efficiency of endogenous rhizobium populations will be assessed in different European pedoclimatic zones, with the ambition to develop decision support tools regarding requirements for rhizobial inoculation
Funding: FP7/EU (2014-2017)
Project website: http://www.legato-fp7.eu/
Partners: Coordinator and partners from France, UK, Czech Republic, Spain, Italy, Germany, Serbia, Portugal, Poland and Austria including 9 SMEs