Legumes in Finnish agriculture: history, present status and future prospects




Legumes are important in world agriculture, providing biologically fixed nitrogen, breaking cereal disease cycles and contributing locally grown food and feed, including forage. Pea and faba bean were grown by early farmers in Finland, with remains dated to 500 BC. Landraces of pea and faba bean were gradually replaced by better adapted, higher quality materials for food use. While grain legumes have been restricted by their long growing seasons to the south of the country, red, white and alsike clovers are native throughout and have long been used in leys for grazing, hay and silage. Breeding programmes released many cultivars of these crops during the 1900s, particularly pea and red clover. A.I. Virtanen earned the 1945 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for his work on both nitrogen fixation and silage preservation. Use of crop mixtures may appear modern, but farmers used them already in the early 1800s, when oat was used to support pea, and much effort has been devoted to improving the system and establishing its other benefits. Although international cultivars have been easily accessible since Finlands 1995 entry into the European Union, the combination of feed quality and appropriate earliness is still needed, as < 1% of arable land is sown to grain legumes and an increase to 910% would allow replacement of imported protein feeds. Climate change will alter the stresses on legume crops, and investment in agronomy, physiology and breeding is needed so that farmers can gain from the many advantages of a legume-supported rotation.;


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How to Cite

STODDARD, F. L., HOVINEN, S., & KONTTURI, M. (2009). Legumes in Finnish agriculture: history, present status and future prospects. Agricultural and Food Science, 18(3-4), 191–205. https://doi.org/10.2137/145960609790059578