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Lentils as a source of protein: cultivation for fields and plates
Whether yellow or brown, mild or nutty-aromatic, floury or hard-boiling - no other legume is as diverse in color and taste as the lentil. For those who eat vegetarian or vegan, they offer a healthy alternative to beans, peas or soy. Lentil seeds offer around 28 percent crude protein, 67 percent carbohydrates, 2.5 percent fat and around 12 percent fiber. Perfect for sports and health!
Phytonutrients and iron
The lens is a good source of iron and phytochemicals. While the essential amino acid lysine is abundantly contained in lenses, there is a lack of the sulfur-containing amino acids methionine and cysteine. It is the other way around with cereals, so that cereal products such as bread, rice or pasta perfectly complement lentils. Therefore, the protein-rich seeds are a valuable asset for a wholesome diet.
Until a hundred years ago, the lens was still widespread in Germany. Today, however, the traditional crop is a niche culture and can only be found in a few cultivation areas such as the Swabian Alb. There are good arguments for farmers to grow more lentils in Germany again: More and more people are eating vegetarian, prefer regional organic products and are aware of the value of old crops. Lentil cultivation also makes sense from an ecological perspective. As legumes, they enrich crop rotation in organic farming and increase biodiversity in the fields. Legumes are also healthy for the soil, because with the help of nodule bacteria they can bind nitrogen from the air to their roots and release part of it into the soil, which is already well fertilized.
Because domestic lens cultivation is only of regional importance, central European lens cultivation has come to a standstill in the past decades. An alliance of scientists, breeders and practitioners wants to change that and make lenses at home in this country again. This is the main goal of a three-year breeding project that is coordinated by the Center for Organic Agriculture at the University of Hohenheim (ZÖLUH) and started in February 2019. The project is part of the protein crop strategy of the Federal Ministry of Agriculture. The aim of this is to significantly expand the cultivation of lentils and other legumes with us and to make them possible in northern Germany.
It is crucial to breed high-yielding and resistant varieties. In addition, healthy ingredients, a favorable protein composition and good digestibility of the lentils are important. The breeders use 100 samples stored in the IPK Gatersleben gene bank to find varieties with the desired properties. The most promising varieties are grown in field trials and in practical operations. So step by step you can find all those varieties that grow well in Germany and are particularly well suited for organic farming - and ultimately enrich our menu. Nina Weiler, respectively