Trial’s finger on the pulse

Shannon SmithAlbany Advertiser

A new trial by Stirlings to Coast Farmers is looking at ways for farmers to grow the pulse crops which are profitable in the region.

Many grain growers in the Albany Port zone use a canola-barley rotation, but some growers are starting to encounter issues with fungicide and herbicide resistance.

To help combat that and bring more diversity to cropping systems, the farming group is trialling different legume crops on a farm in Amelup with investment from the Grains Research and Development Corporation’s Regional Cropping Solutions Network. Chickpeas, field peas, faba beans, lentils and lupins are the pulses being assessed.

SCF research and development coordinator Nathan Dovey is leading the project in the Albany zone.

“We don’t expect every legume crop to work in all of the environments tested,” he said. “But we do hope to identify at least one legume crop that growers can try over the next few years and assess the pros and cons on their own properties.

“We need to identify which soil types are the most suitable for pulse crops and almost re-discover agronomic packages to make legumes crops successful.

“One effective method to tackle resistance issues, either fungicide or herbicide, is through diversity of crops and pastures grown.

“This disrupts the disease life cycles whilst allowing different chemical control options to be rotated.

“Adding a legume to the cropping phase will increase diversity, whilst adding nitrogen to the soil for the following crop.”

The trial is taking place on Amelup farmer Darren Moir’s property and was sown on May 7.

Mr Moir said he and his family had not regularly grown legume crops in the past decade because of poor pulse yields and profitability.

“With new pulse crops and varieties offering better disease resistance and increased yield potential, I thought it was time to re-evaluate if pulse crops had a place in their farming system,” he said.

A successful trial was also held last year in Frankland where Faba beans topped the pulse yields with 1.37t/ha and achieved revenues of over $1,000/ha at prices of $800 and above.

Other legume demonstration trials are planned for the Gnowellen, Broomehill and Muradup areas allowing grain growers to view pulse crop potential over a wide range of environments and soil types.

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