APC to showcase state of play, future for pulses

Grain Central February 22, 2023

Toowoomba’s Empire Theatres precinct is the venue for APC2023. Photo: Empire Theatres

THE fourth Australian Pulse Conference is set to bring a stellar line-up of speakers and a detailed look at all aspects of pulse production and value-adding to Toowoomba next month.

With a two-day program in the Garden City’s famed Empire Theatres precinct over March 21-22, and three field trips to choose from on March 23, organiser Peter Wilson said APC 2023 holds plenty of appeal for those involved in breeding, growing and value-adding pulses.

“Our conference theme is Pulses for People, Profit and the Planet, and we’re looking at everything from pre-breeding and the role pulses play in soil health and rotations through to what’s happening in the plant-protein space globally and in biotechnology,” Mr Wilson said.

The inaugural APC was held in Adelaide in 2013, and following Tamworth in 2016 and Horsham in 2019, the Toowoomba program is bringing the event into one of Australia’s key summer and winter-cropping zones, the Darling Downs of southern Queensland.

Peter Wilson

“Chickpeas are a hugely important rotational crop on the Downs and its neighbouring regions, where mungbeans, faba beans and soybeans are also grown.”

“Pulses like lentils, lupins, field peas and vetch play an extremely important in Australia’s southern growing areas, and they will also be covered by the researchers and specialists presenting at the conference.”

Mr Wilson said last year’s sodden growing season has brought to front of mind the need for growers to select crops and varieties best suited to a variable climate.

“Our sessions covering pre and post-harvest crop protection, what’s happening in soils when pulses are grown, and the changing environment with regard to pulse crops will all provide valuable insights based on the latest research to everyone in the supply chain.”

Investment outlined

The scope of investment in pulse value-adding and what that means for Australia’s industry are well covered in the APC2023 program.

“Australia is one of the world’s leading pulse producers and exporters and some really exciting developments are taking place as part of a global trend to produce more plant-based proteins.”

“We’re already seeing engagement from established and emerging businesses in Australia and overseas, and those attending APC2023 will get the latest on where Australia sits in the global landscape.”

Among the APC2023 keynote speakers is Professor Douglas Cook, University of California Davis plant geneticist and co-founder of NuCicer, which is developing chickpea genotypes with enhanced protein levels which make them better suited to fractionation and extrusion.

Juraj Durco.

Sharing his wealth of global industry experience will be Melbourne-based food technologist and head of Kraft Heinz’s international plant-protein innovation hub Juraj Durco.

Victorian company Unigrain has been value adding grains and pulses since the 1970s, and its co-CEO Andrew May will be providing an update on Unigrain’s fractionation plant being built at Smeaton and the landscape for pulse protein in Australia and beyond.

Head of Austrade’s Agribusiness and Food Centre of Excellence Anne Maree Weston will provide an overarching view on investment and opportunities for Australian pulses, while CSIRO’s Future Protein Mission lead Dr Crispin Howitt give an update on pulses in the protein landscape.


Chickpeas are the crop of choice to grow in rotation with wheat for many growers in Queensland and northern NSW. Photo: Oscar Pearse

Beyond a cash crop

The ability of pulse crops to make positive contributions to carbon economies has added to their long-held value as nitrogen fixers and disease breaks in both cropping and mixed-farming operations.

The latest in research about pulses in agronomic systems will be provided in keynote addresses from University of Adelaide Associate Professor Victor Sadras, Griffith University Professor Rebecca Ford, and University of New England Adjunct Professor David Herridge.

“These speakers are experts in their field and have the latest insights into what’s happening with breeding and farming systems within the wider environment.”

The APC program will also include a panel discussion, and offers delegates the opportunity to network at the conference venue and associated events including the field trips

Register for APC2023 by clicking here.

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