IntegraL stands for “Interdisciplinary Research on Grain Legumes” and is a project initiated and conceptualised by Critical Scientists Switzerland, Getreidezüchtung Peter Kunz and semnar | saatgutpolitik & wissenschaft. The project is funded by Mercator Foundation Switzerland and Fondation Sur-la-Croix and has a diverse array of project partners and supporters, including different research and breeding institutes and farmers organisations.
Grain legumes provide a high-quality source of protein for animals and humans and benefit the cropping system by fixating atmospheric nitrogen and increasing soil fertility (Hauggaard-Nielsen et al., 2008; Reckling et al., 2018). While the demand for domestic plant-based protein for animal feed and human consumption has rapidly increased in recent years (Chevillat et al., 2022; FOAG 2021), grain legumes are still cultivated on less than three percent of the open arable land in Switzerland (Bracher, 2019). Reasons therefore include the economic risks due to lodging and associated harvesting difficulties and yield fluctuations.
At the same time, diversification through intercropping of cereals with grain legumes is known to have great potential for increasing yield and yield stability as well as soil fertility and reducing fossil energy consumption (Bedoussac et al. 2015; FiBL, 2017; Raseduzzaman and Jensen, 2017). There is also growing acknowledgement that agricultural diversification is crucial to increase resilience of cropping systems in times of climate change, with diverse and local solutions being needed.
Taking a transdisciplinary, system-oriented approach, the project aims to sustainably diversify the cultivation and consumption of grain legumes in Switzerland.
The project encompasses the following main parts and goals:
- Analysis of the agricultural science and policy framework conditions that have hindered or promoted the cultivation of grain legumes to date
- Participatory on-farm breeding trials with different grain legumes with the goal of developing site-adapted varieties and forms of cultivation by incorporating the specific needs of agricultural production into the breeding process
- Promoting the exchange and networking between farmers and breeders by means of joint field days, workshops and farm visits
- Investigating the potential of the neglected and underutilised but highly climate-resilient grain legume grass pea (Lathyrus sativus) for breeding, cultivation, processing and marketing in Switzerland
- Discussion of results and the wider topics of sustainable food production, agrobiodiversity and participatory plant breeding at field days, workshops and podium discussions
In the framework of the project, two PhD candidates are employed with CSS and gzpk. They are associated with the agroecological transitions group at ETH and supervised by Prof. Dr. Johanna Jacobi.
- Bedoussac, L., Journet, E.-P., Hauggaard-Nielsen, H., Naudin, C., Corre-Hellou, G., Jensen, E. S., Prieur, L., & Justes, E. (2015). Ecological principles underlying the increase of productivity achieved by cereal-grain legume intercrops in organic farming. A review. Agronomy for Sustainable Development, 35(3), 911–935. https://doi.org/10.1007/s13593-014-0277-7
- Bracher, A. (2019). Körnerleguminosen als alternative Proteinquellen zu importierten Eiweissträgern. Agroscope. https://www.agrarforschungschweiz.ch/2019/05/koernerleguminosen-als-alternative- proteinquellen-zu-importierten-eiweisstraegern/
- Chevillat, V., Früh, B., & Schneider, B. (2022). Fütterungsrichtlinien 2022 nach Bio Suisse (Merkblatt No. 1398; p. 3). FiBL. FiBL. (2017). Erfolgreicher Anbau von Körnerleguminosen in Michkultur mit Getreide [Merkblatt].
- FOAG (2021). Report zum Schweizer Fleischersatzmarkt. Eidgenössicshes Department für Wirtschaft, Bildung und Forschung WBF, Bundesamt für Landwirtschaft BLW, Fachbereich Marktanalyse.
- Hauggaard-Nielsen, H., Jørnsgaard, B., Kinane, J., & Jensen, E. S. (2008). Grain legume–cereal intercropping: The practical application of diversity, competition and facilitation in arable and organic cropping systems. Renewable Agriculture and Food Systems, 23(1), 3–12. https://doi.org/10.1017/S1742170507002025
- Raseduzzaman, Md., & Jensen, E. S. (2017). Does intercropping enhance yield stability in arable crop production? A meta-analysis. European Journal of Agronomy, 91, 25–33. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.eja.2017.09.009
- Reckling, M., Döring, T. F., Bergkvist, G., Stoddard, F. L., Watson, C. A., Seddig, S., Chmielewski, F.-M., & Bachinger, J. (2018). Grain legume yields are as stable as other spring crops in long-term experiments across northern Europe. Agronomy for Sustainable Development, 38(6), 63. https://doi.org/10.1007/s13593-018-0541-3