LIBBIO: Andean lupin cultivation

European research into Andean Lupin cultivation on marginal land to stimulate a bio-based economy

Andean lupin, Lupinus mutabilis, originates from the Andean region of Ecuador, Peru and Bolivia and is grown in low-input cropping systems. Lupin fixes atmospheric nitrogen, mobilises phosphate and has adapted to a range of soil conditions. Andean lupin seeds are rich in protein and oils. With the increasing pressure on land in Europe, the declining soil fertility and growing population, Andean lupins may contribute to the protein transition. As part of LIBBIO, a European research project, the Louis Bolk Institute specifically studies the cultivation of Andean lupins on fertile sea clay, fertile sandy soils and marginal sandy soil at the Utrechtse Heuvelrug national park in the Netherlands. 

The LIBBIO project aims to develop food and feed, as well as non-food applications, such as cosmetic and bio-energy products, from Andean lupins adapted to European growing conditions. A consortium of European parties is studying Andean lupins on soil types varying from fertile clay in the Netherlands and Portugal, to highly eroded soils in Iceland and alpine fields in Austria. 

Andean lupin potential

As a legume, Andean lupin can fix atmospheric nitrogen, which is why it does not need organic or mineral fertilisation. The high levels of protein and oil content of the seeds may be of interest to the food industry. By performing field trials and laboratory tests, the potential of various genetic sources of Andean lupins are studied. Besides studies into applications for food, the possible application as feed is also analysed. The project also explores whether Andean lupin could be used in cosmetics and, furthermore, industrial purposes are studied to determine if Andean lupin could be used as a basis for coatings, paints and bio-energy. 

Andean lupin on Dutch soil

The LIBBIO project is conducted by 14 partners in 8 countries over the course of 4.5 years. In the Netherlands, Andean lupin was studied on fertile sea clay and sandy soil, and marginal land located at the Utrechtse Heuvelrug national park. In addition to cultivation methods and extreme weather tolerance, such as drought, we also studied the contribution of Andean lupin to local biodiversity. To enable proper assessment of the potential of Andean lupin, we compared it to white lupin, faba beans and rapeseed. 

Cotopaxi, a registered variety 

The project is currently nearing completion. The first Andean lupin variety was registered in Europe by Vandinter Semo BV. This variety, named ‘Cotopaxi’, is characterised by a relatively short growing season, which enables the seed to ripen and be harvested in the Netherlands. 

Additional information

For additional information, we refer to the LIBBIO website and the introduction on youtube.

The complete list of publications can be found here.