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New master thesis project started: Environmental impacts of Swedish grain legumes

Student: Sanna Kruger Persson

Tentative title: Environmental impacts of Swedish grain legumes

What is your thesis work about?

The purpose of my thesis is to increase the knowledge about the environmental impact and resource use of the production of Swedish legumes. I will also investigate if there are potential benefits with producing legumes in Sweden compared to importing them.

To do this I will evaluate the Swedish production of legumes using life cycle assessment (LCA). LCA is a “cradle-to-grave” approach for assessing the environmental impact of products, processes, industrial systems. In my study, I will follow the production of legumes from when the seed is put into the soil to a dry product at the wholesaler is available. With the LCA approach it is possible to detect which part in the production chain that has the largest impact on the environment and then suggest improvements. Other than evaluating the greenhouse gas emissions, the eutrophication and acidification potentials, land and energy use, it is also of interest for this study to search for potential benefits of having the production in Sweden. For example, one thing that probably is good with growing legumes in Sweden is that the Swedish crop rotation is getting more diverse with a crop that is different from cereals, which is beneficial for many reasons.

Why is this work important and why do you think legumes are interesting?

Since we are facing a massive challenge from ongoing climate change, we need to change the way we live to reduce our impact on the climate, environment and natural resource use. One third of the climate impact from our households comes from what we are eating. Most of it comes from animal products like meat, fish and milk products. A vegetarian dish made of legumes has on average half the climate impact compared to a dish made of animal products. This means that one way to reduce our impact on the climate could be to eat more legumes. At the same time, some groups of the population in Sweden are eating more and more legumes and a lot of people value eating food produced in Sweden. This makes today an interesting time for this project.
Personally, I think the production of legumes is interesting and different compared to the cereals that are grown in Sweden. And, of course, I eat a lot of legumes which makes me particularly interested in this topic.

Does common bean form root nodules when grown on a field for the first time? – MSc thesis presentation 19/1

Christina Hultman, who is studying at the Agriculture Programme – Soil and Plant Sciences at SLU, will present her Master’s thesis entitled:

Abundance of root nodules on common bean, Phaseolus vulgaris
– a comparison between Swedish fields with and without a recent history of common bean cultivation

Friday 19 January 2018, 9.30–10.30 in room Marken, the MVM-building, Ultuna.

Christinas has performed her master’s thesis project  within New Legume Foods.


Summary of the thesis:

Legumes such as common bean, Phaseolus vulgaris L. are climate-smart protein sources which can be part of sustainable agriculture and eating habits to increase the resilience in our food system. Common bean cultivation in Sweden is expanding to new and larger areas where common bean has not been grown before, and it is currently unclear whether farmers should be recommend to inoculate with efficient rhizobia when sowing common bean on fields where the crop has not been grown before.

To evaluate the need for inoculation, this study has examined root nodulation of common bean plants cultivated on fields with and without a recent history of common bean cultivation. Farmer’s fields on the two Swedish islands Öland and Gotland were used for the investigations and a farmer survey was conducted to collect information about the fields. Soil pH, root nodules and plant biomass were measured at pod fill and pods as well as residual plant biomass were measured at full maturity.

There was a clear difference in presence of root nodules between the two types of fields. Both root nodule abundance and proportion of active root nodules per plant with root nodules were significantly higher on fields with a recent history of common bean cultivation than on fields where common bean was not cultivated for at least 20 years. However, neither pod weight nor residual aboveground biomass weights were significantly correlated with number of root nodules or proportion of active root nodule.

These results emphasize the importance of giving recommendations to inoculate common bean seeds with the right species of rhizobium bacteria before sowing, when cultivating common bean on a field for the first time. An additional recommendation might be to decrease the amount of nitrogen fertilization of common bean, since common bean plants grew well even with a very low abundance of root nodules and where many of them were inactive, indicating that soils contained enough plant available nitrogen for good plant growth without nitrogen fixation. However, further investigations are needed before to give firm recommendations on reduced nitrogen fertilization of common bean.

Presentation of MSc thesis about cultivation and use of grain legumes in food production

Master student Camilla Olsson, who is attending the Agroecology program at SLU, has performed her MSc thesis within the Project New Legume Foods. Camilla’s study is based on interviews with farmers and food industry representatives about their experiences and perceptions about growing and using grain legumes for human consumption. She will present her thesis on Wednesday 31 May 2017, 13.00, in the Vegetum seminar room at SLU, Alnarp.

The title of Camillas thesis is Expanding the Grain Legume Food Production in Southern Sweden – Qualitative insights from producers and representatives from the food industry.


Många baljväxtprojekt på gång! Many legume related projects ongoing!

Below is a list of projects, companies and initiatives related to legumes. Let us know the ones we missed – elin.roos@slu.se.

Blue cheese tofu based on Swedish fava beans and soybeans, a project which aims at developing a product similar to blue cheese that is based on fava beans and soybeans grown in Sweden. https://www.sp.se/en/index/services/protein/Sidor/default.aspx and https://www.vinnova.se/p/adelosttofu-baserad-pa-svenska-akerbonor-och-svensk-soja/

EUROLEGUME (2014-2017) is an EU project with the overall objective to improve the sustainable production of leguminous crops and their multipurpose use, including the evaluation of new food and feed products. http://www.eurolegume.eu/

Fagraslätt farm produces several different grain legumes, with possibility for distribution directly to consumers http://www.fagraslatt.se/

Food for progress, a company that produces ingredients and foods based on common beans and faba beans (aka fava beans or field beans). http://www.eatbeat.se/

FIOL – Focus on Intercropping in Organic Legumes (2015-2017). A Swedish participatory research project aiming to identify factors that could stimulate an increased use of grain legume-cereal intercrops in Swedish organic production of legumes for food and feed. https://www.slu.se/en/departments/biosystems-technology/research/current-projects/ongoing/focus-on-intercropping-in-organic-legumes-fiol/

Grey peas – an unused resource in Swedish gastronomy https://www.vinnova.se/p/graartor—en-oanvand-resurs-i-den-nordiska-gastronomin/

Harvest of green faba beans (field beans), about using the immature green faba bean seeds as a vegetable (similar to frozen green peas) http://www.jti.se/index.php?mact=News2,cntnt01,detail,0&cntnt01articleid=388&cntnt01returnid=53 and https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vF2JIDC1Z2g

LEGATO (2014-2017) is an EU project with the overall objective to promote the culture of grain legumes by identifying, assessing and suggesting novel varietal development, culture practices, and food uses. http://www.legato-fp7.eu/

Lupin for innovation of climate smart and tasty foods https://www.vinnova.se/p/lupin-for-innovation-av-klimatsmart-och-smakrik-mat/

Nordisk råvara, a company that works with farmers, restaurants, shops and other actors to promote the consumption of traditional and new Swedish legumes. http://nordiskravara.se/

Swedish fava; small-scale processing of faba beans for use as food ingredients. http://svensk-fava.se/

Swedish legumes as raw material for the food industry is a project supported by a group formation grant within the European Innovation Partnership (EIP) framework. http://www.jti.se/index.php?page=eip—innovationsstoed-fran-jordbruksverket

Swedish Organic Lentils (2017-2019) is a Swedish project aiming to investigate possibilities to increase the Swedish organic production of lentil, by assessing how intercropping with different supporting crops and different methods for mechanical weed management influence weed abundance and lentil yields. https://www.slu.se/en/Collaborative-Centres-and-Projects/ekoforsk-en/projects-2017-2019/lentils/

Swedish Tempeh made from peas http://www.swedishtempetations.com/ and https://www.vinnova.se/p/arttempe—ett-kottigt-vegoprotein-med-unika-halsomervarden/

Presentation av masterarbete: Rotknölar / Root nodules


Christina Hultman, läser till mark/växtagronom på SLU


Mängden rotknölar hos Phaseolus vulgaris beror på om trädgårdsbönor odlats kontinuerligt i växtföljden eller inte alls odlats tidigare

Antal poäng/credits: 30 hp
Handledare/Supervisor: Georg Carlsson

Vad handlar ditt kandidatarbete om? What is your thesis about?

Mitt examensarbete handlar om kvävefixering kopplat till biomassaproduktion/skörd hos trädgårdsbönor. Målet är att jämföra kvävefixering hos trädgårdsbönor på åkermark där det odlats bönor tidigare i växtföljden, med kvävefixering hos bönor på åkermark där bönor inte odlats i växtföljden, på åtminstone 20 år. Insamling av data till arbetet kommer att ske under växtsäsongen 2017 på olika fält med trädgårdsbönor på öarna Öland och Gotland. Jag kommer att kvantifiera kvävefixeringen genom att titta på rotknölarna där kvävefixeringen äger rum och relatera dessa resultat med pH-värden och skördemängd bland annat.

My master thesis work is about nitrogen fixation linked to biomass production/harvest of common beans. The goal is to compare nitrogen fixation by common beans cultivated on soils where common beans have been present in the plant sequence, with common beans cultivated on soils where common beans have not been present in the plant sequence for at least 20 years. Data for the work will be collected during the growing season 2017 on fields with common beans on the islands Öland and Gotland. I will quantify nitrogen fixation by looking at the root nodules where the nitrogen fixation takes place and relate these findings to pH-values and harvest for instance.

Varför är ditt arbete viktigt? Why is this work important?

Arbetet är viktigt för att få bättre kunskap om huruvida de kvävefixerande bakterierna till trädgårdsböna  finns i jorden eller ej, trots att en värdväxt saknats i växtföljden i åtminstone 20 år. Förhoppningen är att studien på så sätt ska underlätta för lantbrukare som ska odla trädgårdsbönor för första gången, att bestämma om och hur mycket de ska kvävegödsla och om de ska ympa med rätt sorts bakterier för att säkerställa skörden. Odling av trädgårdsböna ökar i Sverige och arealen expanderas till marker där det tidigare inte odlats trädgårdsböna i växtföljden, vilket gör det extra intressant att studera detta just nu. Sett ur ett större perspektiv är det också önskvärt att odla mer bönor för humankonsumtion, så att vi kan minska vårt intag av animaliska proteinkällor, vilka kräver större åkerareal och mer resurser för att framställa. Alltså är trädgårdsbönor ett mer hållbart alternativ.

This work is important to improve the knowledge about whether the nitrogen fixing bacteria for common bean is present in the soil or not, despite the absence of host plants in the plant sequence for at least 20 years. Hopefully this study will help farmers who want to grow common bean for the first time, to decide if and how much nitrogen fertilizer is needed and if they need to inoculate the seeds with the right bacteria species to secure their harvest. The cultivation of common bean in Sweden is increasing and even expanding to areas where common bean has not been grown in the crop sequence before. Therefore the study is of interest at the moment. Seen from a wider perspective it is also desirable to produce more beans for human consumption, to be able to lessen the consumption of animal protein sources, which require more land and more recourses to produce. Thus common bean is a more sustainable alternative.

Varför intresserar du dig för baljväxter? Why do you think legumes are interesting?

Baljväxter och då särskilt trädgårdsbönor och andra baljväxter som lämpar sig bra till humankonsumtion är intressanta av flera anledningar. Som jag nämnde ovan så är de en hållbar proteinkälla jämfört med animaliskt protein. Det skulle vara hälsosamt, både för vår planet och även för oss själva, att ersätta större delen av det animaliska proteinet i vår kost, med protein från växtriket såsom baljväxter. Jag tycker också att deras förmåga att samarbeta med rhizobiumbakterier och på så sätt fixera luftens kväve är en mycket intressant och viktig egenskap som gör dem mindre beroende av insatsmedel såsom mineralgödselmedel osv.

Legumes and especially common beans and other legumes, well adapted for human consumption are interesting for several reasons. As mentioned above it is a sustainable protein source compared to animal protein sources. It would be healthy, both for our planet and for us humans, to replace most of the animal protein in our diet, with vegetable protein such as legumes. I also think their ability to collaborate with rhizobium bacteria and to fix nitrogen from the atmosphere is a very interesting and important ability which make them less dependent on external inputs such as mineral fertilizer etc.

Presentation of ongoing Master Thesis project: Prevent the worlds doom, consume a healthy legume!


Sara Da Silva Lernstål & Konstantin Kiratsopoulos, Civilekonomprogrammet på Jönköping International Business School

Title of the thesis:

Prevent the worlds doom, consume a healthy legume!

Number of credits: 30 hp
Supervisor: Adele Berndt

What is you thesis work about?

The purpose of our thesis is to explore the attitudes, and underlying key components, affecting health-conscious consumers purchase intentions regarding legume-based proteins. Based on previous research, we have developed a modified theory of planned behaviour, which will be tested by conducting a qualitative research in form of in-depth interviews with health-conscious consumers. We want to explore which components that build up their attitudes towards legume-based proteins, and if there are other factors, except the attitude, that affect health-conscious consumers actual purchase intentions regarding products based on Swedish legumes. Why we have chosen to focus on health-conscious consumers? We thought it would be of interest to see what health-conscious consumers, which is defined by consumers caring about e.g. their diet, thinks about legumes-based products, and their view of legumes as a protein-substitute. Additionally, we believe health-conscious consumers could be a large group of potential customers for the future products.

Why is this work important?

As a part of this four-year project, with the aim of developing climate-smart and protein-rich viands from domestically produced legumes, understanding consumer behaviour is a vital part of reaching success. Understanding consumer behaviour is important in order to be able to develop and produce attractive products in the end of this four-year phase. The framework, which we aim at developing by our work, describing how health-conscious consumers attitudes towards legumes are formed, and if there is other factors, except the attitude, that affect their purchase intention regarding legumes, can be a foundation for a larger quantitate study, taking different consumer groups into consideration. This thesis will be a starting-point in investigating consumer behaviour, contributing with important knowledge for the projects future research and work, including how to market, sell and attract people to buy domestically produced products based on legumes, which is a key wanting to succeed with the project.

Why do you think legumes are interesting? 

Since our globe, with its growing population, is facing a massive challenge due to the unprecedented pressure on the environment and agricultural resources, something has to be done. Today, the food systems are responsible for a large percentage of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions, and in order to be able to meet the growing populations demand for food, at the same time as achieving more sustainable food systems, beneficial for both people and the planet, changes has to be done. One way to decrease the environmental footprints caused by food systems, and increase public health, would be a transition towards a more plant-based diet. Looking at legumes, they are of big interest for us since they aside from being a more environmentally friendly viand than meat, posses several important micronutrients and have high protein content. Legumes are an exceptional meat substitute and an increasing consumption of legumes would be beneficial for our system.


Studentprojekt / Student projects

The following student projects are running or planned:

Spring term 2017 / Vårterminen 2017:

  • Camilla Olsson – Farmer views on legume cultivation, 30 hp, SLU, Handledare Georg Carlsson
  • Konstantinos Kiratsopoulos and Sara Da Silva Lernstål, Consumer preferences of legume foods, 2 x 30 hp, JIBS, Handledare Adele Berndt
  • Christina Hultman – Root nodulus in Swedish legume farming, 30 hp, SLU, Handledare Georg Carlsson
  • Sanna Ohlström – Protein och betain i baljväxter med olika skördesäsong från Öland 15 hp, Linnéuniversitetet, Handledare Cornelia Witthöft
  • Soumaya Engreni – Fiber och folat i baljväxter från Öland, 15 hp, Linnéuniversitetet, Handledare Cornelia Witthöft
  • Zhangzhang Zong – Production and characterization of a functional legume flour (projektarbete I en projektkurs på masternivå), Linnéuniversitetet, Handledare Cornelia Witthöft
  • Ylva Henriksson – Antinutritionella substanser i baljväxter: innehåll, hälsoeffekter och effekter av beredning. 15 hp, SLU, Handledare Elin Röös
  • Niklas Eriksson – Handbok för ärtodlare, 10 hp, SLU, Handledare Georg Carlsson