Tour learns from growers getting innovative with soybeans

Emma Alsop March 15, 2024

Growers inspecting a soybean variety plot near Oakey during a recent bus tour. Photo: Soy Australia

SOYBEAN growers from Queensland and northern New South Wales heard of innovative ways to incorporate the pulse crop into different farming systems as part of a three-day bus tour held earlier this month.

Organised by the Qld Department of Agriculture and Fisheries and NSW Department of Primary Industries, the trip featured stops at properties in Casino, Killarney, Gatton and Kingsthorpe, as well as tours of processing plants Mara Global Foods and PB Agrifoods.

The event culminated in an industry dinner in Toowoomba hosted by Soy Australia which featured a presentation by Cotton Australia general manager Michael Murray.

Soy Australia soybean industry development officer Judy Plath said she found the tour inspiring.

PB Agrifood’s Toowoomba site was one of the final stops of the tour. Photo: Soy Australia

“As a grower myself, it was a wonderful opportunity to learn from other farmers and when you see a different farming system in a different environment to yours, it can spark all sorts of ideas and creativity,” Ms Plath said.

From crop nutrition to spray technology, Ms Plath said many elements of soybean growing were on display during the tour.

“We are always looking at ways to improve our spray technology and visiting other farms and listening to other farmers is always the best way, in my opinion, to see how you can adapt your own system to make it better.

“The bus trip also showcased and discussed a lot of different options for managing crop nutrition for soybeans which captured the growers’ interest.

“I think there will be a few people doing some on-farm trials and demonstration plots next year to try new ideas.”

Beans and beef

Ms Plath said the tour highlighted the ingenuity of cattle producers who were branching out into creating other sources of income via planting and harvesting soybeans.

“We visited the property of a cattle producer outside of Casino who grows soybeans for grain as part of his farming system.

“He incorporates soybeans and a winter crop as part of his farming program to improve soil health, provide an alternative income source via harvesting soybeans, and the winter crop provides him with a feed source that his cattle can graze.”

Ms Plath said many newer soybean varieties had different planting windows which made them ideal to fit into other farming systems.

“They are one of the strongest nitrogen-fixing legumes grown in Australia, so if people are looking at incorporating a legume for the nitrogen benefits, soybeans are a really great choice.”

A producer near Casino discussed the benefits of incorporating soybeans into a cattle-production system. Photo: Soy Australia

Mixed 2023-24 season

Ms Plath said the current growing season provided some opportunities and several challenges for the industry.

“The season got off to a really great start with regular wet weather, which gave everyone the confidence to plant soybeans.

“They got steady rain on young soybeans which got their crops away nicely.”

Ms Plath said Soy Australia was pleased by the growth uptake of new varieties as well as the increase in plantings in non-traditional soybean regions.

“It is exciting to see such strong plantings across a lot of different growing regions and it is also really encouraging to see growers giving the new varieties a go.”

She said alongside good plantings in typical regions such as northern NSW, Wide Bay-Burnett and north Queensland, more growers in the Darling Downs and Lockyer Valley had opted to plant soybeans this season.

She said Soy Australia had noted increased plantings of newer varieties, Hayman and Richmond, and more trials of other newer varieties.

“There have been quite a few growers trialing new varieties such as Gwydir and New Bunya which is relatively new, and there isn’t a lot of experience in different regions with those two varieties.”

Disease, insect pressures

She said these early wins proved to be a double-edged-sword, with the weather conditions promoting increased disease and insect pressures.

“The challenge that comes with wet and humid weather is the greater risk of disease pressure, which we have seen in some regions.

“Also when you have big, lush crops they tend to be fairly attractive to insects.

“We are having moderate insect pressures in some regions.”

Ms Plath said currently “the humidity has backed off” in many growing regions which should reduce the risk of many diseases.

“However, if we continue to have good rain, with a bit more leaf wetness and cool weather there is a bit of an increased risk of rust.”

Silverleaf whitefly concerns

Soy Australia has also received increased reports of silverleaf whitefly activity.

Growers are urged to be on alert for silverleaf whitefly. Photo: Beat Sheet.

The small sap-sucking pest can be difficult to control and can impact plant growth, pod fill ,and yield.

Ms Plath said this pest was the greatest concern in regions where crops were more advanced.

“We have seen insects like silverleaf whitefly pop up in some areas which hasn’t really been a major issue for soybeans in a few years.

“There has been some work by Soy Australia to try and get emergency use permits through APVMA for silverleaf whitefly control.

“Soy Australia are hoping to have an emergency use permit through within the next few weeks.”

Slight crop size drop

The ABARES March Crop Report, released earlier this month, has predicted that the 2023-24 soybean crop will reach 36,700 tonnes over 20,000 hectares.

This is a slight decrease on last season which saw 42,400t produced across 20,500ha.

NSW remains the largest producer, estimated to harvest 24,700t later this year, followed by Queensland with 10,000t.

According to ABARES, Victoria will produce a small crop of 2005t with 1000ha planted this season.

Grain Central: Get our free news straight to your inbox – Click here



Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Your comment will not appear until it has been moderated.
Contributions that contravene our Comments Policy will not be published.


  1. Lindsay Ward, March 19, 2024

    As a frequent grower of soy, it’s good see some new varieties on offer. Richmond and Hayman have not really performed well for me.

Get Grain Central's news headlines emailed to you -