Growers urged to embrace pulse potential

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Grass Patch growers Tony and Ron Longbottom in their cache of lentils, which will be stored on farm until the new year.
Camera IconGrass Patch growers Tony and Ron Longbottom in their cache of lentils, which will be stored on farm until the new year. Credit: Dorothy Henderson

Growing legumes as part of a field pea, wheat, canola, wheat rotation has boosted Grass Patch farmer Ron Longbottom’s confidence and bank balance.

The forward-thinking grower was a highlight of a panel discussion with legume-growing farmers and leading researchers at the Grains Research Development Corporation’s grains research updates on Monday.

Mr Longbottom has a long history of growing field peas and has turned his attention to growing lentils in recent years.

He said growing legumes made him “more confident” about the potential of his cereal crops and said he grew “better cereals” after legumes, compared with canola.

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Researchers urged growers to view legumes as “more than a break crop”.

They said new varieties could provide inspiration for growers to plant more legumes in the future.

Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development senior research officer Mark Seymour invited Victorian researcher Jason Brand, of Agriculture Victoria, to co-present during an afternoon session.

They spoke about the potential for lentils, field peas, chickpeas and faba beans to be grown more widely in WA.

This was followed by a panel discussion featuring Mr Longbottom and Kojonup mixed farmer Ben Webb.

Dr Brand, who leads GRDC’s southern pulse agronomy program, spoke about applied research providing good practice for new pulse varieties in southern Australia.

He also highlighted the implications of new traits on adaptation, crop physiology and management of pulses, and how they fitted in WA.

Mr Seymour said WA grain growers could take inspiration from their Eastern State counterparts and adopt new varieties in the future.

“Pulse crops have been widely adopted in the Eastern States,” he said.

“Recent innovations in agronomy and breeding could lead to further expansion on to sandier textured soils and soils with lower pH.”

“Recent advances include soil amelioration to alter soil conditions, plant breeding for tolerance to lower pH and a wider range of herbicides, and selection of rhizobia with greater tolerance to lower pH.”

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