Organic Beans and Peas: Nutritious and Gluten-free Local Foods
In the Upper Midwest, edible legumes provide an opportunity for year-around access to sustainably grown, nutritious local foods for families and institutions. Our objective is to promote diversification of organic cropping systems with grain legumes and to supply healthy local foods. As the first step in this process, we are studying cultural practices and grain legume marketing. Replicated field research is being conducted on cooperating organic farms and at Research and Outreach Centers. We are evaluating multiple market classes of field beans and peas and studying crop rotations and mulches for weed control. As the field experiments continue, we will measure yields of the legume grain crops, yield effects on subsequent crops, and conduct statistical and economic analyses of our findings. Our economic analysis will take into consideration variable costs and pricing. In conjunction with the agronomic research, we are evaluating markets for organic legumes through local food networks. We will increase understanding and application of the economics and rotation benefits of producing alternative protein crops; create publications on producing and marketing local organic beans and peas; generate crop enterprise budgets for organic edible legumes; provide local foods marketing approaches; write scientific and educational publications; and hold focus groups, summer field days, and winter workshops. Our primary audience of organic producers, extension educators, and consumers will gain knowledge of benefits of growing organic edible legumes and gain local markets and marketing channels.
Our project has five main objectives, plus an outreach plan:
Objective 1. Determine the performance of edible bean and pea varieties. Evaluate the performance of edible bean and pea varieties from 2012 to 2014 by conducting research on organic land at on-farm sites and field research stations.
Objective 2. Compare the agroecological value of edible beans and peas grown in rotation with corn, alfalfa, and wheat. Conduct a replicated 3-year rotational experiment on certified organic land at the Elwell Ecological Station at Lamberton and the Waseca Research and Outreach Center from 2012 to 2014.
Objective 3. Determine the effect of winter cover crops on yield and weed control in field beans and peas. Conduct an experiment on certified organic land at the Elwell Ecological Farm at Lamberton and at one on-farm location in 2012 and 2013. Winter cover treatments are oilseed radish, spring oats, berseem clover, and a bare ground control.
Objective 4: Develop crop enterprise budgets for organic edible beans and peas. Use input and output data generated from the field research (Objectives 1–3) to develop enterprise budgets. Budgets will explore the price and yield conditions under which edible beans and peas could compete with corn and soybean and organize yield, price, and cost information to compare profitability and make decisions such as which crop to grow. Enterprise budgets will to be tailored to the specifics of different growing regions and markets.
Objective 5. Identify local markets to describe the various marketing channels available to producers. Measure the size and scope of marketing channels for the organic dry edible bean and pea market in Minnesota to identify the opportunities for producers. Estimate the general size of the organic edible bean market, current sources for those edible legumes, and examine a mix of channels open to producers and growers looking to market edible legumes.
Outreach. Disseminate our research and market survey results via field days, organic conferences, workshops throughout the project term and though extension and other publications to be completed near the end of this project.
2012 was the first full year of our project. Our accomplishments thus far include:
1. We developed a team of researchers, educators, producers, and marketers devoted to increasing the local production and consumption of organic edible grain legumes. Drs. Craig Sheaffer and Tom Michaels held a meeting on January 13, 2012 at the Minnesota Organic Conference in St. Cloud to recruit producers to be involved in our project. We have been meeting and consulting with our collaborators periodically.
2. The first year of the edible bean performance trials (Objective 1) were started in 2012. We established low input performance trials for 18 dry bean cultivars of various market classes plus four edible soybean cultivars. The trials were conducted at four Minnesota locations that had various soil types that ranged from irrigated sand at Becker to loam soils at Lamberton and Madison, and silt loam at Rosemount. Weed control was by cultivation and hand weeding. Our objective was to assess the yield stability of cultivars under low input conditions. The attached graph illustrates the differences among cultivars for yield and yield stability in these trials. Yield is reported in bushels per acre and is plotted on the Y (vertical) axis. The coefficient of variation (CV) is a measure of the cultivar’s variance across environments and is plotted on the X (horizontal axis). Low values of CV are better because it indicates that a cultivar has low variability across environments, which means the yields are consistent and predictable. The cultivars with the highest yield and lowest CV are in the upper left quadrant (Quadrant #1). Several dry beans landed within or on the border of Quadrant #1 including Lariat pinto, OAC Rex navy, Zorro black, Red Hawk dark red kidney, and OAC Thunder navy. The trial will be repeated in 2013.
3. The first year of a 3-year experiment to compare the agroecological value of edible beans and peas grown in rotation with corn, alfalfa, and wheat (Objective 2) was started in 2012. Whole plots of corn, alfalfa, or wheat were planted at the Southwest Research and Outreach Center (Lamberton), UMore Park (Rosemount), and the Becker Experiment Station. In 2013, subplots will be planted with market classes and varieties of edible beans and peas.
4. The first year of a 2-year experiment to determine the effect of winter cover crops on yield and weed control in field beans and peas (Objective 3) was initiated in the fall of 2012. Because of fall drought conditions, cover crops did not uniformly germinate and failed to establish adequate ground cover. They will be replanted in the fall of 2013.
5. Crop enterprise budgets (Objective 4) will be developed after the field experiments are completed and the data analyzed.
6. Structured interviews and primary market research for Objective 5 are being developed. A list of organic producers who have experience and interest in organic edible beans has been created and contacts made.
7. Outreach. An organic field day was held at the Southwest Research and Outreach Center in Lamberton, MN, on July 11, 2012, which was attended by over 100 people. The theme of the field day was “Diversifying Organic Cropping Systems”. Dr. Tom Michaels gave a presentation called “Adding Edible Beans to Your Rotation” and participants were able to tour field plots where the organic edible beans were grown.
Impacts and Contributions/Outcomes
After our first year, we are well on our way in achieving the short-term outcomes for this project. We have organized a team of researchers, educators, producers, and marketers devoted to increasing the production and consumption of organic edible legumes. Our field research will help us collaboratively develop recommendations that show benefits of organic edible legumes in cropping systems, including economic return, legume N contribution, and weed management. In addition to field research, our project will take the next step to identify markets for these locally-grown, organic legume grains. We have made many contacts with our primary audience of organic and sustainable producers at field day demonstrations and organic conferences. The primary audience also includes marketers, retailers and consumers, who will gain knowledge on the benefits of organic edible legume nutrition and the advantages of purchasing local foods. The information from this project will be incorporated into university publications and websites.
University of Minnesota
456 Alderman Hall
1970 Folwell Ave
St. Paul, MN 55108
Office Phone: 6126247711
University of Minnesota
411 Borlaug Hall
1991 Upper Buford Circle
St. Paul, MN 55108
Office Phone: 6126253148