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Lupinus mutabilis for Increased Biomass from marginal lands and value for BIOrefineries

Periodic Reporting for period 3 - LIBBIO (Lupinus mutabilis for Increased Biomass from marginal lands and value for BIOrefineries)

Reporting period: 2019-10-01 to 2021-03-31

Securing sufficient and sustainable vegetable proteins, biomass supply for both the food/feed industry and for the growing bio-based market is a key challenge for the agricultural sector and also an opportunity for its further growth. Natural resources are limited and a more efficient and sustainable exploitation of land and water is required to preserve them for continued use; at the same time, the market demand for food is increasing due to growing population, as is the demand for agricultural biomass to be converted into materials and chemicals. The challenge is to achieve more with less: crops that deliver a higher and constant yield, and/or resilient crops that require less water and nutrients and/or crops that can grow on marginal lands.
Lupins, especially the large crop Lupinus mutabilis, could be an excellent choice for meeting these challenges as it grows well on marginal lands without much fertilizing and it is high in oil and protein content. The overall objective of LIBBIO is to develop consumer food, feed, non-food and bio-energy products from Andean lupin varieties (Lupinus mutabilis) adapted to European farming conditions by applying bio-refinery cascading principles for crop value creation and modern crop breeding technologies. Also, to increase crop yield and accelerate supply chain development via a consumer-driven approach for developing high value-added food and non-food products by applying state-of-the-art fossil-solvent-free technology for raw material processing.
LIBBIO project has achieved results with Andean lupin with respect to breeding, agronomy, biorefinery processing and new product development. A genome wide association study (GWAS) demonstrated the large crop variability and its flexible response to different environmental conditions. This is a promise for future improvement of the crop and its adaptation to new climatic conditions. Andean lupin can yield up to 6,7 ton beans per hectare under favourable climatic conditions in for example Portugal with a plant density of 75 plants/m2. Its green biomass yield for e.g biogas production can be up to 120 tons/ha which is good for a biogas production of circa 7700 Nm3 CH4/ha. With this yield it can compete with green maize for biogas production in for example Southern part of Germany. Andean lupin can make its own fertilizer by fixating nitrogen from the air, thereby saving fossil fuel for fertilizer production. Therefore, Andean lupin is a carbo-negative crop with a Negative Carbon Footprint of about 1 ton CO2-eq/ha.
Andean lupin can be processed in a biorefinery by supercritical CO2 technology and other auxiliary processes, yielding oils (20%), vegetable proteins (45%) and probiotic dietary fibres (35%). Mayonnaise, low fat spreads and salad dressings have been successfully developed with Andean lupin oils. Also, skin and hair care cosmetic products are successfully developed with the oils which composition is close to argan oil. Andean lupin oil is especially high in the anti-oxidant gamma-tocopherol. Andean lupin protein and fibre can be used in food applications such as pasta (noodle) but also chocolate-bar, lupin yoghurt and lupin protein drinks. Andean lupin protein is successfully applied as biodegradable adhesive for wood products and is as good as soy bean based wood adhesives. Cosmetic application of Andean lupin protein is in anti-aging skin care formulations and nourishing hair care products. LIBBIO project has resulted in a possible complete new supply chain for food and high end biobased products based upon the Andean lupin.
LIBBIO project has submitted the first Andean lupin ever for European plant breeder rights. This Andean lupin variety “Cotopaxi” can be grown economically by farmers in most of the EU member states where it can compete with revenues from wheat cropping. A second sweet variety (low in bitter alkaloids) is in development. This sweet variety can be used for food applications. Andean lupin has positive effects on biodiversity since it is beneficial for pollinating insects and it nourishes soils by increasing its carbon content and bioavailability of nutritional minerals. Andean lupin can grow on marginal soils, create acceptable yields for farmers and profitability for biorefineries. High added value food and non-food products can be made with its protein and oil ingredients which benefit European consumers and makes the European Union more independent from foreign vegetable protein and oil imports.