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Pulse Canada

Environmental Sustainability

Pulses are a key component of strategies to lower the environmental impact of food consumption and production. Governments around the world are highlighting pulses as a key food for a sustainable diet.

View our Sustainable Business Guide to learn more about marketing the sustainability benefits of pulses.

Low Carbon Footprint

Greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture, in large part, come from nitrogen fertilizers. Pulse crops have a lower carbon footprint than most foods, because they require a small amount fertilizer to grow. Pulses have a special relationship with certain soil bacteria that have the ability to convert nitrogen in the air into a form of nitrogen that plants can use. This means that farmers need to add little or no nitrogen fertilizer to grow a pulse crop.

 

Improved Soil Health

Pulse crops produce a number of different compounds that feed soil microbes and benefit soil health. Crops grow better in soils that are more “alive” with a diverse array of soil organisms, as these organisms break down and cycle nutrients more efficiently, feeding the crops as they grow. In addition, a large, diverse population of soil organisms acts to ‘crowd out’ disease-causing bacteria and fungi, making for healthier plants. Growing pulse crops in a rotation with other crops enables the soil environment to support these large, diverse populations of soil organisms.

Water Use Efficiency

Pulses are a protein source with a very low water footprint. Pulses such as peas, lentils and chickpeas 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 the following year’s cereal or oilseed crop.