TO COINCIDE with today being World Pulse Day, Western Australia’s Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development (DPIRD) has released a guide to growing faba beans on WA’s south coast.
DPIRD’s regional agronomy team developed the guide to address increasing interest in faba beans as a rotational break crop, particularly on the South Coast.
WA has the smallest faba bean crop of any mainland Australian state; according to ABARES data, it produced just 15,000 tonnes out of a national corp of 519,800t.
DPIRD dryland farming systems manager Vanessa Stewart said the team compiled 15 case studies on the experiences and learnings of current faba bean growers across the South Coast region, from Kojonup in the west, north to Dumbleyung and across to Beaumont in the east.
“Many growers had limited or no experience with the legumes, and were looking for tips on how to grow a successful crop so this publication will help to fill that knowledge gap,” Ms Stewart said.
The online and hard-copy guide was developed under the Building crop protection and crop production agronomy R&D capacity in regional Western Australia project supported by DPIRD and the Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC).
Esperance-based senior research scientist Mark Seymour said faba beans were a particularly good fit for growers on the South Coast looking for a legume break crop that fits into both cropping and mixed-farming systems.
“Faba beans can be dry sown early to depth to chase moisture, they tolerate waterlogging better than other grain legumes, and can be sown and harvested using existing machinery and equipment used for cereals,” Mr Seymour said.
“The legume fixes nitrogen for itself and subsequent crops, and has a higher yield potential than other pulses.”
Looking beyond fabas
The faba bean project is one of a number undertaken in partnership with the pulse industry, and featured as part of World Pulse Day 2022
DPIRD’s research team has just finished a three-year GRDC co-investment high-value pulse project.
“We’ve been looking into new varieties of a range of pulses, including chickpea, faba bean and lentil and designing experiments to highlight their strengths and weaknesses, including trialling early disease intervention,” Mr Seymour said.
“The department is also involved in managing experiments for eastern states breeders and industry to help develop new pulse varieties for WA growers.
“We are determining whether the new varieties coming through now are better than what we already have.”
A new DPIRD project, again with co-investment from GRDC, will focus on developing more acid-tolerant lentils, as most lentils are currently grown in the Esperance area on alkaline soil.
Another new GRDC project about to get under way in partnership with the Grower Group Alliance is working with grower groups to help demonstrate the best-practice agronomy of grain legumes in their respective regions.
The Growing Faba Beans on the south coast of Western Australia guide can be accessed by clicking here, or requested from DPIRD offices.