Global Agriculture

Project to optimise nutrition for WA pulse crops

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18 March 2024, AU: Grain growers will have access to new fertiliser guidelines to support the successful integration of newly adapted pulse crops into their farming systems through a new research project underway in Western Australia.

The project will provide nutrition recommendations for phosphorus, potassium and sulphur for adapted pulse crop species of chickpeas, field peas, lentils, faba beans, vetch and lupins to maximise growers’ profitability.

The three-year project is an investment of the Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC) in partnership with Living Farm.

Living Farm agronomy and operations manager Kathryn Fleay says the project will provide valuable updated information for a range of grain legumes to improve understanding of phosphorus, potassium and sulphur requirements.

The project will focus on the rapid development and validation of fertiliser response curves and updated guidelines for pulse crops tailored to WA conditions, enabling growers and agricultural advisers to have greater confidence when growing grain legumes across the state’s agricultural zones, Ms Fleay says.

The project will include glasshouse experiments, field trials and paddock-scale trials using new technology and analysis tools.

Response curves for phosphorus and potassium will allow growers and industry to quickly and easily determine the most economically efficient fertiliser type and rates to be applied to crops, based on standardised soil analysis.

Sulphur results and recommendations will be delivered to growers and advisors in the form of updated fact sheets and guidelines.

GRDC sustainable cropping solutions manager Dr Rowan Maddern says the project was informed by feedback from western growers, who were eager to adopt pulses into their crop rotations but were seeking better information to inform nutrition programs for these crops.

“There is mounting evidence of the positive benefits from crop diversity and legumes in a cereal-based system, and WA growers are eager to successfully integrate adapted pulse species into these systems,” Dr Maddern says.

“Feedback from GRDC’s National Grower Network (NGN) and a grower survey conducted in 2021 indicate that growers are unsure of fertiliser management for pulse species that are new to their operations, a concern amplified by high fertiliser prices.

“This project aims to develop and provide of fertiliser response curves and recommendations that are straightforward and user-friendly for growers, based on current soil test data available in WA.”

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