Pulses are recognised for the role they can play in improving subsequent cereal yields, by breaking the cycle of cereal root diseases while maintaining soil fertility. Pulse crops are able to 'fix' nitrogen when growing and although most of this is stored in the grain and therefore removed when the crop is harvested, the plants have not taken this nitrogen from the soil and so the need for nitrogen fertilisers is reduced. This combination of higher soil nitrogen and reduced root diseases is cumulative and can result in a dramatic increase in subsequent cereal yields. Subsequent stubble residues may also provide valuable stock feed.
Various studies have been carried out to evaluate the benefits of using pulses in crop rotation. The majority of findings indicated that when pulse crops are grown in rotation with cereal and oilseed crops yields are increased by 0.5 to 1 tonne per hectare and protein by as much as 0.5 to 1.8%. This benefit can equate to as much as 30% of the total value of the pulse crop.