Ecology, Environment and Conservation Paper

Vol.16, Issue 3, 2010; Page No.(359-364)

GRAIN LEGUMES (PULSES) : ROLE IN REVITALIZING SOIL HEALTH AND HUMAN NUTRITION

Poonam Sharma and R.K. Gill

Abstract

Pulse crops also known as grain legumes are important as food component for human nutrition and as soil ameliorants for soil nutrition. Legume seeds have been shown to be an excellent source of protein, dietary fibre and phytochemicals essential for human diet. The protein content in the seed is high ranging from 17-40 percent. They also contain significant concentrations of minerals (Calcium. zinc, iron) and vitamins (folic acid and vitamin B including Riboflavin. Thiamin and Niacin) with low glycimic index. Foods with a low glycemic index are considered to be healthier because the; produce a s:ower rise in blood glucose. Some anti-nutritional compounds, present in the grains of food legumes can reduce bioavailability of essential nutrients. Common house hold cooking processes can reduce these antinutritional effects by 50 to 80 per cent. Pulse crops have long been lauded for their ability to fix atmospheric nitrogen and contribute to the sustainability of agricultural production systems. Grain legumes have a significant impact on soil biology, increasing soil microbial activity from seeding to long after harvest. Along with N fixation, the rhizosphere activity of the crop plays a major role in plant nutrient uptake. Endophytic rhizobia enter the cells of non-legume crops in rotation and influence nutrient uptake in non legumes.

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