Faba bean potential as southern rotation option
John Pattison is keen to expand the area sown to faba beans this year after growing the crop for the first time last year on his family’s Marrar, New South Wales, farm.
The mixed farmer, who crops 1200 hectares with his wife Michelle, son Brendan and daughter-in-law Felicity, direct drilled PBA Rana faba beans across 36ha after a local grain merchant suggested he trial them as an alternative to lupins.
A 90ha paddock with a pH (calcium chloride) of 5.5, previously sown to barley, was set aside and soil tested to check nitrogen levels before planting.
Brendan applied a single application of Roundup® during autumn followed by a double-knock of Roundup® and Gramoxone® two days before sowing.
Soil moisture was excellent so the faba beans were inoculated at a heavy rate and planted 45 millimetres deep at 120 kilograms/ha across 36ha on 22 April. Lupins were planted adjacent to the faba beans on 54ha.
Monoammonium phosphate was applied at 50kg/ha with the faba beans, while no fertiliser was applied with the lupins.
John says 25 faba bean plants per square metre germinated and the soil was topped up with moisture on 30 April with 6mm of rain and another 11mm on 3 May.
A post-sowing application of simazine was applied at 2 litres/ha to suppress ryegrass before the crop emerged. “Warm ground temperatures meant the beans were up within eight days of sowing,” John says.
Good rain fell in May and June and to manage in-crop weeds, Brendan applied 500 millilitres/ha of Select® and 180 grams/ha of Factor®.
Two applications of mancozeb were applied to control ascochyta blight and chocolate spot. Only one insect spray with Fastac® Duo was necessary, which was applied with the third fungicide treatment in October.
The faba beans were windrowed in late October to ensure even ripening. John says various frost events meant the faba beans planted in the valley were developmentally about a week behind those sown on the hill.
When Ground Cover caught up with John in late November, he said the faba beans yielded about 2t/ha on average, although they were yet to be delivered.
“At 2t/ha and a cost of production of 0.6t/ha, the gross margin at a price of $400/t delivered, plus the nitrogen fixed, would be pleasing,” he says.
This year the PBA Rana seeding rate will be increased to target 30 plants/m2 and they will be sown slightly deeper, at 50mm, to provide more soil cover. He also hopes to test a small amount of PBA Samira, a higher-yielding faba bean variety available for the first time this year.
GRDC Project Code CSP00174
Region South, North