Growers gather to build pulse knowledge

A photo of crowd gathering


Scores of growers recently gathered at a series of field days across Australia to learn more about growing pulses.

On hand were traders, breeders, researchers and agronomists who spoke about market demand, using pulse crops as disease breaks, the nitrogen benefits of pulses and planting pulses for weed control to augment the traditional option of growing crops only for grain.

Participants also heard talks on the latest varieties released by Pulse Breeding Australia (PBA). These included the desi chickpea PBA StrikerPBR logo, the faba bean PBA WardaPBR logo, two red lentils PBA AcePBR logo and PBA BoltPBR logo and the white field pea PBA PearlPBR logo.

Organisers described the mood at the field days as “buoyant” due to high prices for some pulses and increasing demand from food manufacturers.

Key points:

  • Interest in pulse crops has surged
  • Field days build capacity among growers
  • Traders expect demand for pulses to increase

Dr Eric Armstrong, a research agronomist with the New South Wales Department of Primary Industries (NSW DPI), says grower interest in pulses is being fuelled by an increase in herbicide-resistant weeds, a desire for profitable nitrogen-fixing break crops on the back of improved seasonal conditions, rising artificial fertilisers costs, and increased blackleg issues in farming systems dominated by continuous wheat/canola rotations.


Picture of a man, face shaded by hat

Vince Leneham (left), Lockhart, NSW, wanted to know how to avoid yellow and stunted FarahPBR logo faba beans when sowing crops on red soils. It was suggested there may have been issues with rhizobia. He is soil testing this year to check if there are other reasons for the problem. Dr Eric Armstrong reminded growers to avoid planting faba beans on acidic second-class soils. “The better the class of soil the better the crop.”Photo of a man in a hat

Joe Hopwood (right), Boree Creek, NSW, is using brown manuring to clean up herbicide-resistant weeds. He said there had been an explosion of interest in pulses due to a large number of growers with ryegrass resistance. Brown and green manuring offer a fallow phase to control weeds and boost soil nitrogen. NSW DPI research agronomist Dr Eric Armstrong reminded growers that the optimum time for brown manuring was before weed seed set.

PHOTOS: Nicole Baxter

A man kneeling in a field

Mallee agronomist and grower Matt Witney (top left), who grows chickpeas and lentils over 25 per cent of his cropping program at Culgoa, Victoria, west of Swan Hill, inspects the latest varieties released by Pulse Breeding Australia at the recent Southern Pulse Agronomy Field Day at Rupanyup. Among the five varieties launched at the event, Mr Witney said he was particularly interested in the high-yielding new red lentil variety PBA AcePBR logo, which includes ascochyta blight resistance. PHOTO: Clarisa Collis

Grong Grong, NSW, grain grower Brian Gawne (bottom right) caught up with Victorian DPI breeder Tony Leonforte (bottom left), A photo of two men in a field.who developed the new white pea variety PBA PearlPBR logo. The variety is the first broadly adapted white-seeded field pea with superior grain yield potential to be released in Australia.
 In 2012, Mr Gawne grew 80 hectares of PBA TwilightPBR logo, but after seeing the standing growth habit and high pod production in a dry seasonal finish of PBA PearlPBR logo, he is interested in “giving the variety a crack”. PHOTO: Nicole Baxter

A photo of a man kneeling in a fieldA photo of a man kneeling in a field

Minyip, Victoria, grower Brad Leith (left) takes in the trial plots at the Southern Agronomy Field Day in Rupanyup, with a view to adopting the PBA Herald XTPBR logo lentil variety, which was released in 2011.

Rupanyup grower Peter Jorgensen (right) had a hand in bulking-up seed for the new lentil varieties PBA BoltPBR logo and PBA AcePBR logo, which were released at the Pulse Agronomy Field Day in Rupanyup, Victoria.
However, Mr Jorgensen also attended the event to look at the potential for new chickpea varieties in his farming system, and other pulse variety options that provide better disease resistance and marketing opportunities.

PHOTOS: Clarisa Collis

A clapping crowd.

Bruce Watson, Parkes, NSW, (pictured left) asked what traders were doing to keep demand for lupins high in eastern Australia so growers were not left with uneconomic product stored in silos. Trevor Bray, formerly of Pulse Australia, said he had been working with domestic stockfeed companies to increase demand for albus lupins, which many had not previously milled. Mr Bray said those who milled lupins for the first time last year wanted to buy more after seeing their processing performance. He expected the price to gradually increase due to lower domestic stocks in 2012. Mr Watson wanted to add more pulse crops into his farming system for added diversity. He attended the day to network with grain buyers, breeders, researchers and agronomists, and to learn more about best-practice pulse production and marketing opportunities.

PHOTO: Nicole Baxter

More information:

Dr Eric Armstrong,
02 6938 1814,

Paul Breust,
0407 009 750,

Bevan Buirchell,
08 9368 3653,

Tony Leonforte,
03 5362 2155,

Kurt Lindbeck,
02 6938 1608,

Larn McMurray,
08 8842 6265,

Next: Workshops add grain marketing to grower toolkit

Previous: Early sowing long-season wheats to beat the rush

GRDC Project Code DAN00151, DAV00118, UA00118, UA00127, DAV00119

Region South, North