World Pulses Day (10th February) is a designated United Nations global event to recognise the importance of pulses (chickpeas, dry beans, lentils, dry peas and lupins among others) as a global food. Together with partners across Europe and the world, scientists at the James Hutton Institute are at the forefront of research into the exciting possibilities of pulses to feed the world in a sustainable way.

Pulses have a low carbon footprint because they require no nitrogen fertiliser, which can result in less greenhouse gas emissions and less water pollution from crop production. They enrich soil health, leaving nutrients behind and supporting healthy and diverse farm systems. These crops are also water-savvy: they can grow and yield on relatively little water, which makes them ideal for drought-prone areas. Plus, they make great food and drink too!

“The fascinating possibilities offered by pulses are the subject of close study by scientists at the James Hutton Institute, from their use in health foods for humans and animals to novel uses”

Dr Pete Iannetta, from the James Hutton Institute’s Ecological Sciences group and coordinator of the project TRansition paths to sUstainable legume-based systems in Europe (TRUE) research project, said: “Pulses such as faba beans are high in starch as well as protein, essential minerals like iron, zinc and magnesium, and are gluten-free. Their consumption helps promote low glycemic index, offsetting diabetes, and can safeguard good cardiovascular function.

“They foster sustainable food production, as they require no nitrogen-based fertiliser. Pulses can access (or ‘fix’) atmospheric nitrogen into biologically useful forms, an ability they derive from a unique symbiosis with a certain type of soil bacteria found in their roots.

“Some of the fascinating possibilities offered by pulses are the subject of close study by scientists at the James Hutton Institute, from their use in health foods for humans and animals to novel uses, and consumption of homegrown legumes and products derived from them, such as clover-grass fed beef, is critical to help support truly sustainable cropped systems and crop-rotations nationally.”

World Pulses Day has been proclaimed by the United Nations on February 10 of each year since 2019 by the General Assembly of the United Nations on December 20, 2018. This celebration is a recognition of the decisive role that pulses can play in achieving the comprehensive, far-reaching and people-centred set of universal and transformative goals and targets of the United Nations’ 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.