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Objectif végétal : une dynamique partenariale

Separated by coma

Legumes are sources of proteins and free nitrogen

They are plants of the Fabaceae family. They are mainly used for three goals :


Legumes are ecological biofertilizers

Legumes have the particularity to draw nitrogen both from soil and air. They are characterised by their symbiotic activity of nitrogen fixation through bacteria lying in their nodules.

Figure: Root system of legume with its nodule


Legumes roots can bring to the soil 15 % to 30 % of the total nitrogen accumulated by the plant during its growth until grain maturity. This nitrogen is brought as organic molecules that are less harmful for the environment than nitrate.  Moreover, intercropping helps to reduce leaching.

After maturity, the residues also bring nitrogen from the atmosphere into the soil. Nitrogen is then transformed by fauna and microorganisms before mobilization by the plants.

  • Legumes are a good way to save nitrogen fertilizers


Legume-based intercrops : a solution to be developped

  • Benefits of intercropping when the legume is the main crop:

Stabilize legumes yields: legumes are very susceptible to weeds, diseases and pests when cultivated on themselves.

Example : pea/cereal, lupine/cereal

  • Benefits of intercropping when the crop  is associated with a legume:

fertilize the soil and limit the pressure of weeds, pests an pathogenic agent.

Example : oilseed rape/ legume

LEVA research team works on the biological processes that allow for improving the agronomic and environmental performances of cropping systems less dependent on nitrogen fertilizers and herbicides. The investigations also deal with the interactions between crops and soil organisms, in order to improve soil fertility. In collaboration with teams from IRHS, the researchers also work on the response of legumes to abiotic stresses and on the selection of varieties adapted to climate change during crop installation. Finally, LEVA team members join their research to that of research groups with other skills to study the conditions for the adoption of innovative intercrops by farmers.


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