Mixed Crops of Cereal and Legumes Will Need No Fertiliser To Produce The Same Yield
Fertiliser is used over crops to boost their crop yield. This fertiliser is comprised of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium which plants require to grow. And since the Green Revolution from the 1970’s, we’ve begun using fertilisers like never before. Today, cereal crops usually get about 110 kgs of nitrogen fertiliser per hectare.
However, this nitrogen is derived from fossil fuels and have a huge carbon footprint. But thanks to Dr Pietro Iannetta of the James Hutton Institute, this could be a thing of the past by significantly lowering or completely removing fertiliser altogether.
The technique is surprisingly easy, cost efficient and completely natural. Intercropping is the practice of growing two or more crops on the same field at the same time. This is opposed to what we do today with planting a single type of crop per year. By combining cereal like grain or barley with legumes like beans, peas or chickpeas, there would not be any need for any additional fertiliser.
Dr Iannetta’s work shows that this method works equally as well, but without the added fertiliser. Why? Well, because legumes can fix nitrogen into the soil naturally, providing cereal with all they need; a double positive of both reducing CO2 emissions, lowering ground water and pollution as well as increasing food diversity and security. Di you know that legumes were proven to be more filling than meat? This form of cultivating is especially important in countries which have a limited area for arable land or can’t afford fertilisers in the first place.
But its use shouldn’t by any means be limited to just these places since the whole agricultural industry accounts for more than 15% of global greenhouse gases. So, in short, we’d be solving one problem of pollution, not by compromise, but through a genuine solution with no added costs or costly investments. And all farmers can attest to what a good thing would be if they wouldn’t need to buy fertiliser year after year.