The potential for leguminous crops in Scotland
The Scottish Government is committed to reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from agriculture as part of its pledge to achieve net-zero emissions in Scotland by 2045. In 2018, agriculture accounted for 18% of Scotland’s total GHG emissions, with a significant share coming from nitrogen fertilisers (1.4% of Scotland’s total GHG emissions are from soil as a consequence of applying nitrogen fertilisers). Scotland’s Climate Change Plan update1 envisages that nitrogen emissions, including from nitrogen fertiliser, will have fallen through a combination of improved understanding, efficiencies and improved soil condition. One policy approach identified as having potential to deliver this outcome is through the use of leguminous crops to fix atmospheric nitrogen, potentially reducing the need for synthetic fertiliser. Increasing legume production could also help build protein self-sufficiency in Scotland. This study assesses the opportunities, challenges and barriers influencing potential production of grain and forage legumes in Scotland. Grain legumes are crops such as beans and peas which are cultivated for their seeds and used for both human and animal consumption. Forage legumes include lucerne (also known as alfalfa), clover and vetch which are sown in pasture and grazed by livestock or used for cutting for hay or silage.