LegumePlus investigates alternative forage legumes, which increase feed use efficiency through their bioactive polyphenols.
Europe must face the Grand Challenges of climate change and global warming, which will seriously affect the production of foods, including animal feeds. Tightening supplies of energy, foods and feeds will further impact on food security. Feeding animals in Europe with large quantities of imported soyabeans is not sustainable. Home-grown protein sources, such as forage legumes, offer a valuable alternative, but ruminant animals make inefficient use of protein from most forage legumes.
LegumePlus proposes to investigate alternative forage legumes, which increase feed use efficiency through their bioactive polyphenols. In addition to tackling such sustainability issues, they will also contribute to livestock health, welfare and reduce environmental emissions.
LegumePlus will study the efficacy of bioactive legumes to:
- optimise ruminant nutrition;
- reduce greenhouse gas emissions;
- improve milk, cheese and meat quality.
It will also investigate how bioactive legumes can control parasitic worms in animals. This network will enable integrated multidisciplinary and intersectoral research training. New tools for comparative genomics in plant breeding will be harnessed and exploited to benefit ruminants and the environment.
A new generation of agricultural biotechnologists will be trained to work across disciplines and solve sustainability and bioresource issues. Young researchers will acquire a thorough understanding of ruminant nutrition and parasitology, analytical chemistry and plant breeding and excellent training in state-of-the-art and industrially relevant scientific skills. Close collaboration between participants from the public and private sectors will ensure that the training programme will enhance the employability of young researchers and meet employers requirements for interdisciplinary and transferrable skills. This will contribute to the EU policy aim of transforming Europe into an eco-efficient, knowledge based bio-economy.