Improving the profitability & sustainability of Esperance port zone grain growers

Legumes for profitability in the Esperance Port Zone

Project Timelines:  March 2018 - March 2020

There appears to be renewed interest from growers and the agricultural community in legume break crops to complement canola and cereals in the rotation. DPIRD in partnership with the GRDC via the Tactical Break Crop Agronomy Project DAW00227 (lead by Mark Seymour) has worked on legume crops for a number of years now and this aligns with SEPWA’s current State Government funded project looking at the potential for market development of legumes in the Esperance Port Zone.
Mark Seymour reports that pulse crops produced excellent biomass and seed yield in the Esperance region in 2016 and 2017. Frost damaged some grower’s crops but DPIRD’s experiments managed to be located so as avoid most of the frost and in the cool spring set up excellent yields. The latest lentil varieties appear to provide superior yield potential and we can expect more grower interest in them if prices remain at current levels. PBA Hurricane XT demonstrated superior tolerance to SU residues and imazethapyr PSPE, whilst PBA Bolt performed creditably in the absence of herbicide stress.
Faba beans have consistently produced good yields in the Esperance region for many years and currently available varieties have very useful levels of disease resistance. The uptake of faba beans will be reliant on early sowing opportunities, improved price signals and increased seed availability in WA.
However, there are still areas of the EPZ which are searching for a profitable legume in their farming system (particularly on the sandplain). High value pulses are suitable for many fine-textured, neutral to alkaline soils where narrow leaf lupin is poorly adapted, however they may not be suited to all soil types and regions. Combined with this, is the need for better market development in the EPZ of pulses. It is difficult to sell legumes – none are shipped at this stage – and transport costs often take the shine off their higher prices and soil health benefits.
With further breeding and agronomic research, there is the opportunity for more legumes to be grown in the region and with increased production, the EPZ will have more marketing power. This project will align with work already being done by Mark Seymour and with the “Setting the PASE” project being managed by SEPWA in conjunction with the Pulse Association of the South East (PASE). The project will ensure the development of better agronomic packages for pulses and legumes and a better understanding of cost benefits through economic modelling by farm consultants, Farmanco.
Three Crop Sequence workshops, already developed by GRDC and DPIRD will be extended throughout the EPZ in conjunction with demonstration sites at Ravensthorpe, Lake King, Salmon Gums, Beaumont and Gibson. SEPWA will work in with North Mallee and RAIN groups to establish the sites.
These sites will run over 2 years with legumes sown in year one into cereal or canola stubbles. Year two will then have cereals sown over these to compare returns on investment (protein, yield, soil health, income will be considered). Other measurements will include: weeds, disease, soil tests, tissue tests, soil moisture.

For more information, please contact Aidan Sinnott at: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or Michelle Handley at: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
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