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Pulses powering improvements in southern farming systems

Pulse crops continue to add value to farming enterprises across the southern cropping region, as a result of favorable commodity prices and advances in research and development that have underpinned the expansion in area.

The Grains Research and Development Corporation-funded Southern Pulse Agronomy program has made a significant contribution to the rise in pulse production across the south through improvements in crop agronomy and development of management practices that aim to ensure the long-term profitability of pulses for the region’s growers.

Also funded by Agriculture Victoria and the South Australian Research and Development Institute (SARDI*), Southern Pulse Agronomy is integrated with Pulse Breeding Australia (PBA), assisting with germplasm enhancement programs for the delivery of new varieties that are well suited to growers’ evolving farming systems.

Agriculture Victoria pulse agronomist Dr Jason Brand, who heads up the Southern Pulse Agronomy program, says pulses are offering growers multiple agronomic and economic benefits and their worth is being realised by more and more growers, especially in non-primary areas of production.

“For example, the Wimmera has been the primary area of production of lentils in Victoria, but in the last 10 years we have seen expansion into the lower rainfall southern Mallee,” Dr Brand said.

“And more interest in pulses is being generated out of the central and northern Mallee of Victoria and over the river into southern New South Wales – areas of production in that region could jump quickly in the next few years.”

Improved genetics, increased adaptability to soil types and modern management of pulse crops have also resulted in faba bean production expanding into high rainfall zones, with this year’s bean crop expected to be the largest ever in Victoria.

In addition to financial reward, Dr Brand says pulses are offering growers “another important tool in the toolbox”, driving increased sustainability within their farming systems and overall businesses.

Image: John Arnold, Scott Arnold and Jason Brand. Image Credit: Luise Sigel