Perfect 10 proven to boost pea yields
RESEARCHERS at the Tasmanian Institute of Agriculture have found a way to significantly increase the yield of green-pea crops through precision planting techniques.
This has potential to deliver tangible benefits for growers and sustainability for Australia’s vegetable-processing industry in the long term.
In 2016, TIA embarked on a three-year $300,000 research project known as Precision Peas. The project is a collaboration with Simplot Australia and received funding from Hort Innovation using e industry levies and funds from the Federal Government.
The research team has been working with growers and key industry stakeholders with the goal of increasing the yield of green peas from 6 tonnes per hectare to 8 tonnes per hectare by 2020 and they have made some promising progress.
TIA senior lecturer in horticultural science and project lead, Dr Alistair Gracie, said initial on-farm experiments had identified a way to boost yield by up to 15 per cent.
“What we have found is that green-pea crops planted exactly 10cm apart have a much greater yield than those with different spatial arrangements,” Dr Gracie said.
“The optimal spacing of 10cm allows each plant to equally access light, water and nutrients. Green pea crops planted in this precision arrangement can result in yields of up to 15 per cent more and an increase in margins by up to $750 per hectare.”
On-farm experiments were conducted at several Tasmanian locations including TIA’s vegetable research facility at Forthside in the state’s NorthWest.
The experiments compared the impact of density and spatial arrangements on yield and included plants spaced in a square arrangement at exactly 10acm apart, plants with a 13cm row spacing and a 20cm row spacing.
Dr Gracie said field trials would continue this year and then the next step would be determining how growers could effectively implement this knowledge into practice.
“At the end of the project, we will use the research results to inform the development of best practice guidelines for precision planting of peas.
These guidelines will be distributed through Simplot to its pea grower base and made available online,” Dr Gracie said.
Each year Tasmanian vegetable growers produce approximately 24,000 tonnes of green peas from about 4000 hectares for processing, with a farmgate value of $10 million.
The volume produced in Tasmania accounts for around 95 per cent of the total production of green peas for processing in Australia.
TIA is a joint venture between the Tasmanian Government and the University of Tasmania.