Pulses are a protein source with a very low water footprint. Pulses are well-adapted to semi-arid conditions and can tolerate drought stress. Pulse crops also use water in a different way than other crops grown in rotation, extracting water from a shallower depth, leaving more water deep in the soil for other crops the following year. Pulses also respond well to low till practices, which helps to sustain the rich, fertile topsoil of the Canadian prairies.
Low Carbon Footprint
The production and use of nitrogen fertilizers are a significant contributor to the overall carbon footprint of agriculture and food production. Pulses have a naturally lower carbon footprint than most foods because they require little to no nitrogen fertilizer to grow. Pulses have a special relationship with certain soil bacteria that convert nitrogen from the air into a form that is usable to the growing pulse crop. This process is known as symbiotic nitrogen fixation.
Lower Carbon Emissions by Nearly 30% Learn how this is done from the study commissioned
by Canadian Pulses. https://reports.pulsecanada.com/feed-lca/
Pulses are a leading ingredient in the exploding market of meat alternatives. Pulses are being used in meat applications in a number of ways, but an emerging trend is blending plant and animal protein in a single product, helping significantly improve its footprint by lowering carbon emissions, using less water, and improving biodiversity.
Belle Pulses saves nearly
of methane from
the atmosphere annually
Soil Health & Crop Systems
Pulses produce a number of different compounds that feed soil microbes and benefit soil health. A healthy and diverse microbial community is able to decompose and cycle nutrients more efficiently, feeding crops naturally as they grow. In addition, a large, diverse population of soil microorganisms acts to ‘crowd out’ disease-causing bacteria and fungi and sequester carbon in the soil, making for healthier, more sustainable plants. Growing pulse crops in a rotation with other crops enables the soil environment to support these large, diverse populations of soil microorganisms.
Including pulses in crop rotations also confers sustainability benefits for the crops grown after. Crops like wheat and barley produce higher yields and have higher protein when grown after pulses. This is due to the soil fertility, water and soil microbial benefits of pulse crops which also benefit following crops. These benefits also reduce the carbon emissions of following crops due to a reduced need for fertilizer. Pulses also create their own nitrogen, which further contributes to lower carbon emissions than other crops. One study has estimated that including pulses in a rotation with Canadian wheat contributed 1.3 MT of carbon emission savings, approximately 2% of the entire carbon footprint of Canadian agriculture.
Feed is a significant contributor to the environmental impact of livestock production. Including pulses in livestock diets reduces the environmental footprint of pork and egg production, and can help to develop and market livestock products with low environmental footprints. A recent life cycle analysis commissioned by Pulse Canada found incorporating peas into pork rations reduced the carbon impact of the feed by 28%, and the overall emissions of the pork by 18%.