Innovate UK to deliver Defra-funded £5.9m pulse project

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A Defra-funded project aimed at helping farmers reduce emissions is to be delivered by Innovate UK.

‘Nitrogen Efficient Plants for Climate Smart Arable Cropping Systems’ (NCS) is a four-year research project involving 200 UK farms and 17 industry partners which is looking to bring a reduction of 1.5Mt CO₂e per annum. The £5.9m project is one of a number of projects receiving a share of £30m of government funding.

Project aims

The main aims of the project are to increase pulse cropping in arable rotations to 20% across the UK (increasing from the current 5%) and also to develop and test new feed rations. In addition the project aims to substitute up to 50% of imported soya meal used in feed with more climate friendly home-grown pulses and legumes.

These aims will be driven by farmers through a series of paid-for on-farm trials.

PGRO Chief Executive, Roger Vickers, said: “Everyone knows that pulses and legumes have considerable benefits for UK farming systems. But these have never been truly and accurately measured. So their value has been sorely underplayed and their potential to address the climate crisis has gone unrecognised.

“Together we can change that. We now have the science, the tools and the know-how among UK farmers, not only to tap into that potential, but to develop it further. Bringing that talent together is what lies at the heart of NCS – it’s never been done before, and there’s never been a project on this scale with this much ambition.”

‘Pulse Pioneers’

The first stage of the project will support 200 UK farmers in establishing their business’ carbon baseline, using the Farm Carbon Toolkit. The GHG emissions from these farms will then be tracked throughout the project and will form a fundamental part of the dataset.

The leading innovators among them will then be paid to work with scientists to co-design crop and feeding trials to carry out on their farms.

These ‘Pulse Pioneers’ will explore ways and means for soils to thrive, crop yields to build and livestock productivity to flourish, through better use and marketing of home-grown pulses and legumes.

The on-farm progress will be based on cutting-edge technologies and farming systems, incorporating some of the latest research and innovations from leading UK institutes and tech companies. These will be underpinned by a rigorous use of data, including the UK’s first ever full lifecycle analysis of cropping rotations and livestock systems.

Get involved

The project is also launching the PulsePEP (Performance Enhancing Platform), led by ADAS, which will be a hub for the farmer-led community looking to achieve the best from pulse crops and reduce emissions. It will also be a place for sharing best practice.

The team leading the project are asking farmers who are interested in being involved to sign up.

The project will be officially launched on the PGRO stand at this year’s Cereals Event (June 13-14), with a follow up webinar to explain more about it and what’s on offer for farmers who wish to take part on Thursday June 15 at 2:00pm. To register your interest in PulsePEP, with no obligation click here.

More information about the project, including links to project partners and research initiatives that underpin the project can be found at

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