Per­fect 10 proven to boost pea yields

Tasmanian Country - - NEWS -

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.

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