The role of farmers’ knowledge in closing the yield gap for legumes: results of a large scale EU survey on faba and soya beans

Ioanna Mouratiadou*, Sirinja Jha, Lional Alletto, Sonoko Bellingrath-Kimura, Pierre Chopin, Etienne-Pascal Journet, Kathleen Karges, Alise Kluga, Franziska Komossa, Sylwia Lewandowska, Daniel Plaza-Bonilla, Moritz Reckling, Nynke Schulp, Genis Simon-Miquel, CFE Topp, CA Watson, Frederick L. Stoddard

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to conferenceAbstractpeer-review


The potential of legumes to simultaneously contribute to several production, environmental, and nutritional objectives, is well known by science and policy. Legumes are currently underutilized, despite their high potential to increase the resilience of cropping systems and farm businesses through diversification and to enhance the sustainability of cropping systems via reduction in fertilizer and pesticide use, increase in protein self-sufficiency, and contribution to healthy diets (Watson et al., 2017).
The low shares of grain legumes in current agricultural systems are often attributed to yield gaps and high yield variability in legume production (Cernay et al., 2015; Reckling et al., 2018). These phenomena are associated with numerous and diverse factors, such as limiting pedoclimatic conditions, sub-optimal management practices, low investments in breeding, occurrence of pests and diseases, and farmers’ experience, knowledge, and attitude in growing grain legumes. The relative contribution of these different factors on current yield gaps and yield variability remains underexplored. In particular the ‘knowledge gap’, as we term the difference between yields achieved by experienced farmers and those achieved by novices, requires assessment in order to evaluate the potential contribution of knowledge in closing the yield gaps and reducing yield variability in grain legume production.
The LegumeGap project analyses the different components and underlying factors of the legume yield gap, in order to propose appropriate interventions. To this purpose, a large-scale farmer survey was conducted in nine European countries to explore the effect of different yield gap factors and evaluate, for the first time, the influence of farmers’ knowledge on yield gaps and yield variability. The survey focused on faba and soya beans, two crops with high production and environmental potential, growing popularity, broad adaptability and high protein concentration in the seeds. It was conducted in countries that comprise areas with different history in cultivating faba and soya beans in north-western (Finland, Sweden and Latvia), north-eastern (UK and Netherlands), central (Germany and Poland), and southern Europe (France and Spain). The survey was run between February 2020 and May 2021.
In this talk, we will present results of the survey on:
 The relative role of different factors (climate, soils, cultivars, management, pests and diseases, knowledge, attitudes) on yield gaps for faba and soya beans.
 The interactions between these different factors.
 The relationship between achieved yields and various indicators of experience, knowledge, and attitude of growing the crop.
 Farmers’ outlook for the future of grain legumes in Europe.
 Country and regional differences on all the above.
 Recommended actions for closing yield gaps.
Our study identifies the role of knowledge, amongst other factors, in closing the yield gap of grain legumes and provides valuable insights for improving the uptake and cultivation of grain legumes in the future.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPrint publication - 20 Sept 2021
EventLandscape 2021 - Diversification for Sustainable and Resilient Agriculture - Berlin, Berlin, Germany
Duration: 20 Sept 202122 Sept 2021


ConferenceLandscape 2021 - Diversification for Sustainable and Resilient Agriculture
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