Support available for new growers
Grain growers considering diversifying into pulse crops in non-traditional production areas of Victoria and South Australia have support through a new Grains Research and Development Corporation project.
The Southern Pulse Extension project aims to provide growers and their advisers with information and resources they need to make decisions and maximise production and income potential from pulses.
At the core of the project is the establishment of nine ‘Pulse Check’ discussion groups across Victoria – Mallee, North Central and North East – and South Australia.
The Pulse Check groups will meet at least four times a year during the next two years to discuss issues relating to pulse production, management and marketing. They are focused on a ‘back to basics’ approach to lentil and chickpea production through practical in-field learning and group discussion.
Each group consists of growers and advisers with varying experience in production of lentils or chickpeas. GRDC’S Andrew Etherton said pulse production expansion into non-traditional growing areas necessitated the provision of tailored support for firsttime growers.
“In recent years we have seen more and more cereal growers venture into pulses,” he said.
“Many growers in low rainfall areas and other non-primary areas of production have little or no experience with these crops, so the Southern Pulse Extension project aim is to equip them and advisers with the regionally-specific agronomic information they need – much of which has been generated out of the Southern Pulse Agronomy program – for informed decision-making.”
Mr Etherton said pulses, especially lentils, were a high-value crop, but financial returns were not the only incentive for novice growers.
“These legumes are valuable break crops for cereal rotations, add nitrogen to the soil, spread production risk, add diversity to a grower’s marketing options and drive increased sustainability within farming systems,” he said.
“To ensure growers realise the potential long-term farming system and financial benefits of pulse crops, it is important they have a good grasp of pulse-production fundamentals, including paddock selection, choosing the most suitable varieties to grow, seeding and row spacing, crop nutrition, pest and disease control, weed management, desiccation and harvesting, grain quality, storage and marketing.”