Pulses and legumes are a key crop being cultivated on farms in the Canadian prairie, however this wasn’t always the case. These prairies in Western Canada were originally used to grow wheat, but this ceased as the soil started to suffer. Soon after, peas and pulses were introduced, and suddenly farmers found that yields were much higher, carbon emissions were lowered, and the soil became even healthier than it was before wheat was grown. Let’s explore why pulse farming is environmentally sustainable and can have positive effects during the changing global climate.

Yellow peas and some other pulses when planted have capabilities to improve the soil beneath them. This is primarily because of their nitrogen-fixing capabilities. This means that there is no need for any artificial fertilisers to add nitrogen to the soil because the existence of pulse plants themselves add nitrogen. This, in turn, increases the health of the next harvest due to the nutritious soil. Ensuring the quality of future harvests is important for sustainability, especially in times of climate change when agriculture and soil quality is already at risk. Pulse plants as a replacement for artificial nitrogen fertiliser also contributes to the alleviation of another environmental issue in agriculture. Artificial fertilisers often seep into the water table through runoff, which affects the life forms relying on water bodies, including humankind. This also contributes to greenhouse gas emissions, which expedite the process of global warming. Pulses are an extremely sustainable crop and the practice of cultivating these pulses have tremendous benefits in agriculture due to this nitrogen-fixing process.

Because nitrogen-fixing improves the quality of the subsequent harvest, pulses can be planted in a planned crop rotation method. When this method is performed correctly, the microbial health of the soil can be dramatically increased, meaning that fungal and bacterial diseases would be less prevalent. Canadian pulse farmers have started to use crop rotation methods as a more sustainable farming practice. These farmers also minimise tillage and fallowing of the soil in an attempt to sequester carbon. Pulse plants conveniently thrive in these conditions. Our farmers can pave the way for others who could consider using carbon sequestration to offset carbon emissions involved with other parts of the agricultural supply chain.

Pulses are becoming increasingly popular amongst environmentally conscious individuals, mostly because of their comparatively low water input required for growing. Pulses naturally thrive in semi-arid conditions. For this reason, pulses will likely become more popularly consumed as climate change drives global water scarcity, as they have the capabilities to tolerate drought. Pulses also have shorter and shallower roots than many other crops, meaning that they extract less water from groundwater and aquifer reserves.

Agrocorp’s pulse farms and processing plants in Western Canada cater to numerous countries in Central Asia and Europe. We ensure that our farmers use highly sustainable processes and methods to grow already sustainable pulses. In the coming years as global warming shifts the scope of global agriculture, it is likely that pulses will remain a sustainable food source, and that Agrocorp will continue to bring these miraculous legumes across the world.