Pioneering sustainable solutions for British legumes

EMPOWERING farmers with game-changing solutions to cultivate legumes by developing sustainable novel inputs for stress and disease management is being investigated in a new collaborative study.

Environmental factors coupled with pests and disease threats have limited uptake of growing peas and Faba beans in the UK. However, with a recent surge in interest in plant-based proteins and the beneficial effects these crops have on soil health, there is a significant opportunity for expanding their production.


This 24-month feasibility study funded by Defra and delivered via Innovate UK, aims to equip farmers with advanced sustainable solutions for cultivating legumes, specifically focusing on the implementation of cutting-edge solutions such as biopesticides and biostimulants.


Don Pendergrast, Technical Manager at Agrii, said: “Legumes such as Faba beans are a critical break crop in the UK arable rotation. However, it is becoming an increasing challenge to manage difficult pests and diseases in field legumes with the development of resistance and loss of some crop protection solutions, so we need to develop new and innovative approaches that can be used as part of an integrated approach to good crop management.


“We have been seeing good progress with bio-solutions in both agricultural and horticultural production across a range of crops over the past few years. We are excited about the opportunity in this project to test the feasibility of using some of these technologies to manage challenging diseases like foot rot in peas, and pea and bean weevil in spring beans.”


The consortium is led by Crop Health and Protection (CHAP) in collaboration with University of Warwick, Agrii Ltd., C.A.B. INTERNATIONAL , Russell Bio Solutions Ltd. and Fargro Ltd.


Dr Nayem Hassan, Managing Director at Russel Bio Solutions, said: “The project will help us to develop sustainable solutions for legume farmers in the UK to combat pests and diseases in an era where we are increasingly losing chemical control products.


“During the two-year project, Russell Bio Solutions, together with our project partners, aims to develop novel biostimulants and biopesticides that will assist UK growers in adopting sustainable, climate-smart pest control methods and significantly reduce their reliance on chemical fertilisers and pesticides.”


Some of the field trials will involve a thorough assessment of newly developed sustainable inputs compared to conventional treatments and will measure sustainability improvements.


Dr Victoria Nash-Woolley, Research Associate at CHAP, said: “Ensuring farmers and growers have the latest tools to support legume cultivation is critical. This study aims to do just that and upgrade the present toolkit with novel sustainable solutions able to produce consistent yields and enhance resilience against future climate shocks, pests and diseases.


“Reducing current reliance on synthetic agrochemicals is pivotal and effective alternative control measures are needed. Throughout this project, together with our project partners, we aim to overcome such limitations and deliver novel products increasing the resilience and productivity of field peas and Faba beans.”


The project is funded by Defra through the Farming Innovation Programme (FIP) and delivered via Innovate UK.


For more information about this project, contact CHAP at enquiries@chap-solutions.co.uk