Sup­port avail­able for new grow­ers

The Weekly Advertiser Horsham - - Ag LIfe -

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.”

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