Cultivation of ley in crop rotation for reduced climate impact

Mistra Food Futures Report #2. Cultivation of ley in crop rotation for reduced climate impact – Yield and climate impact in long-term field trials.

Ley grown in crop rotation in Sweden usually consists of a mixture of perennial species of grass and clover. It is normally grown as fodder for ruminants and horses. The specialization of Swedish agriculture has resulted in ley cultivation largely disappearing from the plains and instead coming to almost completely dominate plant cultivation in forest and intermediate areas.

Cultivation of ley has large potential for soil carbon sequestration compared to annual crops. Consequently, when ley cultivation is abandoned the soil carbon stock decreases, which affects soil fertility and contributes to global warming.

– Our study shows that cultivation of ley in crop rotation can be a tool to mitigate the climate impact of agriculture. However, to increase ley inclusion in Swedish crop rotations, the demand for produced ley biomass must increase. This could, for example, be achieved by strengthening the incentives to use the ley biomass as substrate in biogas production or as fodder in Swedish animal husbandry, Johan Nilsson, forskare vid Mistra Food Futures.


Johan Nilsson, Fatima F. El Khosht, Göran Bergkvist, Ingrid Öborn and Pernilla Tidåker.

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Mistra Food Futures Report #2. Vall i växtföljd för minskad klimatpåverkan – Avkastning och klimatpåverkan i långliggande fältförsök.

About Mistra Food Futures

The overarching vision of the programme Mistra Food Futures is to create a science-based platform to enable transformation of the Swedish food system into one that is sustainable (in all three dimensions: environmental, economic, and social), resilient and delivers healthy diets. By taking a holistic perspective and addressing issues related to agriculture and food production, as well as processing, consumption and retail, Mistra Food Futures aims to play a key role in initiating an evidence-based sustainability (including environmental, economic, and social dimensions) and resilience transformation of the Swedish food system.