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Translating knowledge for legume-based farming for feed and food systems.

Periodic Reporting for period 3 - Legumes Translated (Translating knowledge for legume-based farming for feed and food systems.)

Periodo di rendicontazione: 2021-05-01 al 2022-04-30

The overall goal of Legumes Translated thematic network was to increase the production and use of grain legume crops in Europe. 86% of the EU’s plant protein deficit is met using imported soya (the equivalent of about 36 million tonnes soybean per annum). This is a fundamental challenge to the resilience, acceptance and performance of our agri-food systems.

European agriculture is remarkably productive but the combination of intensive nitrogen fertiliser use and large plant protein imports has profound implications for the nitrogen cycle and Europe’s reliance on external energy and land resources. The low production of legumes (even though they grow well in Europe) means that Europe forfeits the diverse range of ecosystem services that they provide. Aligning our cropping systems to an ecologically appropriate proportion of high-performance grain legumes (10%) will reduce the deficit in high protein commodities from about 70% to about 52%.

The formation of the consortium in 2017 coincided with the European Commission’s work on a plan for the “development of plant proteins in the European Union”. The EC Plan published in late 2018 had two important messages for Legumes Translated. First, Legumes Translated was uniquely mentioned as starting to collect existing knowledge. Second, the Plan’s five options for policy action included “Increase sharing of knowledge/best practice in supply chain management and sustainable agronomic practices and bundle information on research activities in breeding, technical innovation and processing, e.g. on a dedicated knowledge platform.” Our overall goal was to increase sharing of knowledge/best practice in supply chain management and sustainable agronomic practices through networking and through a dedicated knowledge platform (The European Legume Hub).

The project concept is based on the networking of actor group representatives from existing national initiatives with research-based partners to collate, validate and communicate relevant research-based knowledge. Each actor group represented comprises a combination of expert actors who are close to practice. This knowledge was brought together to be made available in practice notes (abstracts), guides, other reports, and videos that will support a knowledge hub – the European Legume Hub.

These actor groups, which were already supported by national public initiatives, draw on their own research-based knowledge, other knowledge, and on their own value-chain actors’ knowledge.

The work has cross-sectoral elements including supporting corporate social responsibility schemes and the development of sustainable value chains generally.

The objectives of the project were:

1. To expertly exchange and synthesise actor groups’ existing information and to adapt this for use in other contexts.

2. To validate the wider economic effects and relevance of innovation based on actor groups knowledge.

3. To validate the environmental effects of innovations to ensure that project outputs support a wide range of ecosystem services.

4. To compile knowledge at farming system and value chain level within sector-oriented sub-networks (Transition networks).

5. To provide access to the consortium’s knowledge resources by building an internet-based knowledge platform to support the EIP Agricultural Productivity and Sustainability (EIP Agri).

6. To improve alliances, cooperation and innovative activities for improved farming systems and value chains by integrating knowledge from different actors along value chains in transition networks.

7. To contribute to the knowledge of the policy community by assessing the relevance of actor groups’ knowledge and translating it for policy development.
The project has:

1. Established the seven themed transition networks which produced a total of 79 practice notes, 32 videos, and 13 practice guides and reports.

2. Established a systematic collection of data from a wide range of actor groups for economic and environmental assessment.

3. Established a programme of work based on the bottom-up assessment of actors’ views with four focal areas: Cropping system performance; Evaluation of grain legumes for feed; Soya technology; and Corporate social responsibility.

4. Established Legumes Translated as a publishing platform.

5. Fostered a high-quality ethos for publications that empowers with understanding rather than provide ‘instruction’.

6. Designed, built, and implement The European Legume Hub.

7. Established the European Legume Hub Association to provide community-own governance for the project’s legacy.
The project advanced the state of the art by focusing the network on tangible communication outputs within a coherent communication and knowledge interaction framework. The project’s empowering ethos focused on key actors’ decisions and questions instead of ‘advice’ or ‘instruction’. We established an effective suite of mutually supporting communication channels provided by Legumes Translated as a neutral publishing platform that serves both to raise the profile of the project and support dissemination of results to key users. The role of the transition networks working together in the Innovation Group drove the dissemination effort which produced 73 practice notes, 30 videos, and 15 practice guides. The major achievement is the development of a knowledge platform (The Legume Hub) which will support long-term impact. The European Legume Hub is a publishing facility which is open to all interested in this innovation area, including those outside the project consortium.