A COHORT of grain legume growers located from Yuna to Esperance is now sharing insights and challenges through Grower Group Alliance’s new Legume Leaders initiative as part of GRDC’s into Closing the Economic Yield Gap of Grain Legumes in WA investment.
The initiative is part of a larger project combining extension tools, trials, and technical and economic analysis to support growers to access the benefits of legumes in crop rotations and position growers to intersect the market as demand emerges.
This extension tool aids the collaborative efforts of GGA and GRDC with the government, agribusiness, researchers, grower groups, and growers in addressing the low adoption of grain legumes in WA farming systems.
To date, Yuna growers Jason and Nicole Batten, Buntine grower Stuart McAlpine, Lake Grace grower Ed Naisbitt, Ravensthorpe grower Peter Daw, and Cascade grower Greg Curnow share a collective 140 years of grain legume-growing experience between them.
Benefits beyond profit
GGA project manager Daniel Kidd said Legume Leaders had shown that grain legumes can be a profitable, and in some instances necessary, part of the rotation.
“Being able to demonstrate tried and tested practices among other growers is key to adoption,” Mr Kidd said.
“Through trial and error, these legume leaders have developed their grain legume agronomy over many years and are a valuable knowledge resource for new growers.”
Mr Kidd also said capturing knowledge across grain legume species was another key aspect of the Legume Leader resource.
“The 140 years of collective experience is valuable not just from a legacy perspective, but also due to geographical spread, and the cumulative knowledge these growers share across the grain legume species grown in WA.”
Jason and Nicole Batten have 30 years of experience working with either vetch or lupins in their crop rotation.
Farm partner and Yuna Farm Improvement Group executive officer Nicole Batten said the group continued to support grain-legume research, despite the challenges.
“Though they can be challenging, legumes play a vital role in farming systems here in the north,” Ms Batten said.
Mr Naisbitt and Mr McAlpine tend to agree, as evidenced in their shared 80 years of experience
growing lupins in the Eastern and Northern Wheatbelt respectively.
Lakes Information & Farming Technology group’s executive officer Justine Tyson said harnessing this growing legacy knowledge was invaluable for the local community.
“LIFT’s Legume Leader Ed Naisbitt has a wealth of knowledge when it comes to growing lupins in the Lakes region of Western Australia,” Ms Tyson said.
Mr Curnow and Mr Daw have a collective 30 years of experience, growing faba beans and field peas respectively.
Mr Daw, also the chair of the Ravensthorpe Agricultural Initiative Network, said the rotational
benefits of legumes were an important part of his farming system.
“Nitrogen-fixation is an obvious benefit from a grain legume crop, but we also benefit from very effective grass weed control options, and a break from cereal diseases,” Mr Daw said.
“These factors all contribute to the beneficial impact on successive cereal crops.”
GRDC grower relations manager west Jo Wheeler said the broader project’s aim was to determine which grain legumes have the best economic fit in each sub-region, under specific conditions and situations for growers.
“Through peer-to-peer learning and sub-regional collaboration, growers have an opportunity to identify and adopt the best legume for their region,” Mr Wheeler said.
“Consistent adoption may also lead to economic benefits including better access to markets.”
GGA is harnessing this collection of experience as a project extension tool to assist other growers who are looking to adopt grain legumes in their rotation.
GGA and its grower group partners are currently recruiting more Legume Leaders.
Experienced grain legume growers from across WA who are willing to share their insights are encouraged to complete a GGA Legume Leader Bio Form and get involved with the project which runs until 2025.
Source: Grower Group Alliance