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Legumes Translated

Young soybean plant
© Thünen-Institut/Katharina Schulz
Young soybean plant

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

The aim of EU Thematic Network Legumes Translated is to promote innovation in grain legume cultivation systems and related value chains through the synthesis of existing knowledge and transfer to practice. The Thünen Institutes of Biodiversity and Agricultural Technology are involved in this project together with questions on biodiversity, ecosystem services and environmental impacts.

Background and Objective

The cultivation of legumes such as soybean, field bean and pea make an essential contribution to food security worldwide, especially due to their high protein content. Nevertheless, only 3% of arable land in Europe is used for legumes. This results in a deficit of plant protein for Europe, especially for feeding livestock. The urgent need and the cross-sector challenges from legumes cultivation and the production of protein-containing foods are currently influenced by various factors. This includes the imbalance in European cropping systems now dominated by cereal crops with adverse agronomic and environmental effects, the cross-sector challenge arises from the growing demand for alternative sources of plant protein, growing consumer interest in the environmental impact and resource efficiency of value chains, growing demand for GMO-free value chains and grain legume-based foods.

The Legumes Translated project promotes innovation in grain legume cultivation systems and the associated value chains by linking end users (farmers, politicians) with sources of quality-assured knowledge through transfer. In the project, innovations within these systems will be examined for their stability and feasibility to practice, especially with regard to best-practice, economic and ecological aspects, and then summarised in practical outputs. 


The collection and synthesis of knowledge takes place at two levels. Firstly, at the level of the Actor Groups, these are practice partners who carry out specific innovative practices in the cultivation systems and/or in the value chain; secondly, within the Transition Networks, which are defined as technical areas of the agricultural sector and value creation transition. The knowledge, which is initially collected and generated in Actor Groups and in the interaction between Actor Groups and Transition Networks, is validated using a co-learning approach. In addition to direct interaction between partners, a comprehensive range of primary communications will be provided on an internet-based knowledge platform and secondary communications will be generated targeting specific groups along the value chains. A wide range of media will be used, from written to audiovisual. The results of the project will be made available to the different target groups over a long period, well beyond the duration of the project.

The consortium compromises an existing innovation community represented by 17 Project Partners, 15 Actor Groups from 9 different countries and 7 Transition Networks. Both the Project Partner and Actor Groups possess research-based knowledge, value-chain actors’ knowledge and insights from the pre-farm side of the value chain right through to retailing, including the supporting and regulating functions such as policy development. The focus areas of the seven Transition Networks are: Diversification of cultivation systems using winter legumes, soybean-based value chains for food and feed, production and technical processing of legume-based food, value chains for pig, poultry and cattle farming and aquaculture. This covers a wide range of practices within the field of legume production and use.

Our Research Questions

The Thünen Institute of Biodiversity coordinates the overall project as well as Work Package 5. The following tasks are planned in this work package:

  • Compilation of existing knowledge on biodiversity, ecosystem services and environmental impact of legume-based farming systems
  • Collaboration with Actor Groups and Transition Networks in Legumes Translated to collect and prepare the knowledge about the implemented innovative cultivation systems
  • Life cycle assessment (LCA) of legume based cropping systems to assess environmental impacts and ecosystem services in the categories greenhouse gas balance, eutrophication, acidification and ecotoxicity
  • Legume-specific listing of ecosystem services and impacts on biodiversity, in particular with regard to insects, wild herbs and soil organisms
  • Identification of restrictions that influence the provision of ecosystem services and the environmental impacts of cultivation systems
  • Development of expert guidelines for the identification of options for increasing ecosystem services in leguminous-based cultivation systems
  • Development of an assessment methodology or tool for environmental impacts and ecosystem services in leguminose-based cropping systems (from the crop to the cropping system) for different crop rotations and management regimes

The results will be made available in the form of development guides and practice abstracts. 


Links and Downloads

Involved external Thünen-Partners

  • Scotland's Rural College (SRUC)
    (Edinburgh, Großbritannien (inkl. Nordirland))
  • University of Helsinki [FI]
    (Helsinki, Finnland)
  • Donal Murphy-Bokern [DMB]
    (Lohne, Deutschland)
  • Circa Group Europe Ltd. [CIRC]
    (Dublin, Irland)
  • Landwirtschaftliches Technologiezentrum Augustenberg [LTZ]
    (Karlsruhe, Deutschland)
  • Forschungsinstitut für biologischen Landbau (FiBL)
    (Frick, Schweiz)
    (Johnstown, Irland)
  • Leibniz-Zentrum für Agrarlandschaftsforschung (ZALF) e.V.
    (Müncheberg, Deutschland)
  • Nireus Aquaculture [NIRE]
    (Koropi, Griechenland)
  • Farmers’ Cooperative of Thessaly [THES]
    (Larissa, Griechenland)
  • AgroBio Institute [ABI]
    (Sofia, Bulgarien)
  • Bäuerliche Erzeugergemeinschaft Schwäbisch Hall [BESH]
    (Wolpertshausen, Deutschland)
  • Landesbetrieb Landwirtschaft Hessen (LLH)
    (Wetzlar, Kassel, Deutschland)
  • Donau Soja GmbH [DS]
    (Wien, Österreich)
  • Stonegate Farmers Ltd. [STON]
    (Lacock, Großbritannien (Vereinigtes Königreich))
  • Arvum Seed Technology [AST]
    (Ballymountain, Irland)
  • Institute of Field and Vegetable Crops [IFVC]
    (Novi Sad, Jugoslawien)

Funding Body

  • European Union (EU)
    (international, öffentlich)


11.2018 - 4.2022

More Information

Project status: finished

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