Despite last year’s drier than average growing conditions, locally established pulse field trials produced promising results with most proving profitable in the Mallee in 2015.
At Birchip Cropping Group’s Trials Review Day on February 19, Victorian Government senior pulse research agronomist Jason Brand presented the research results and explained what they meant for farmers.
While the positive results last year were largely thanks to strong global demand and high prices, Dr Brand said improvements in varieties and farming practices were also having an impact.
‘‘Farming system changes and varietal improvements go hand in hand,’’ he said.
‘‘Pulses love soil that has been well looked after, so when you combine well-managed soils with the genetic advances, growers are in a good position to include them in their system.’’
Particularly encouraging from last year’s research was the performance of new faba bean varieties which have been identified for improvements in drought resistance.
Dr Brand described the performance of the new varieties at Curyo in 2015 as ‘‘excellent’’ with most easily out-yielding traditionally grown varieties such as PBA Samira.
Despite the dry season, faba bean yields averaged 0.8tonne/ha at the Kulwin research site and 0.7tonne/ha at Curyo, with the best variety (the yet-to-be released AF12025) delivering a net return of $150/ha.
It was a similar story in lentil trials with new lines with consistently high yields and biomass, improved herbicide tolerance and disease resistance set to become available in the next few years.
While Dr Brand stressed the importance of assessing crop varieties based on long-term results, rather than just on their performance in an individual season, he said new pulse lines could offer future opportunities for growers in the Mallee.