A Vitagora-accredited project is combining agronomy and social sciences to push the uptake of pulse farming in Europe.
The overall changes that agriculture is confronted with are leading more and more agronomists to advocate the integration of certain plants, in particular pulses, into crop systems.
This family of plants - including many types of beans, lentils or chickpeas - presents a number of advantages, especially from an environmental point of view due to their contribution to soil health. However, fewer and fewer farmers are using them. Hence the drive by Vitagora and its partners to put a spotlight on pulses and their integration into farming, thanks to various projects including the project Legitimes.
Marie-Hélène Jeuffroy is the research director within the Agronomy research unit of INRA Versailles-Grignon, a unit focused on the design and evaluation of innovative cropping systems. Pr Jeuffroy's background is in ecophysiology, followed by the development of agricultural practices, with a strong leaning towards social sciences. "My goal was to understand how to integrate the future users into the design of decision-support tools," she explains. This double approach - agronomy and social sciences - is at the heart of the Legitimes project, a four year research programme that she coordinates, centred on pulses and their use on a regional basis.
The central question posed by the leaders of Legitimes is what conditions would favour a greater uptake of pulse farming. "We postulate that these conditions are not only linked to knowledge held by scientists but on the transmission of this knowledge to the various industry players," she explains. This knowledge sharing could lead to the removal of certain obstacles, such as identifying new outlets for pulse production, especially in human food. In the context where the demand for protein is ever growing, while animal production places increasing pressure on resources, protein-rich pulses are indeed a legitimate pathway for ensuring adequate protein supply within sustainable practices.
Funded by the French national research agency, Legitimes is none-the-less a project with ambitions well beyond academic circles. "We are working closely with industry organisations such as Terres Inovia, UNIP and three agricultural cooperatives from the regions of Burgundy, Midi-Pyrénées and Pays de la Loire. Local chambers of agriculture are also involved," says Pr Jeuffroy.
Underway since the beginning of 2014, Legitimes has already managed to initiate "a close dialogue and a solid working relationship between the various partners," says Pr Jeuffroy.
In partnership with JFD & Co
Find out more
Are you interested in Vitagora's actions or network around the topic of Agroecology or plant proteins?
Contact Anne-Céline Renaud, Vitagora's International outreach officer to find out more:
Tel.: +33 (0)3 80 78 77 41, Mob.: +33 (0)6 65 14 80 95