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Pulses gaining in popularity in Northern Vic

  • By: Farm Tender "Prime"
  • Nov 02, 2017

BCG recently held the first in an ongoing series of ‘Pulse Check’ discussion group meetings in Pyramid Hill, attracting 32 growers and advisors from around the region, all interested in learning more about profitable pulse production.

The newly formed farmer discussion group is part of the GRDC Southern Pulse Extension project, led by BCG and delivered by a consortium of organisations involved in the pulse industry across GRDC’s Southern region. Running for three years, the project is aimed at increasing the knowledge of growers and advisers on sustainable pulse production, with emphasis on high value chickpea and lentil crops, and improving the Southern Region’s capacity to maximise future growth and profitability opportunities. Currently nine pulse check groups have been established across the southern region and will be facilitated by local grower groups. BCG will be facilitating the North Central group, situated at and around Pyramid Hill.

Pulse check groups will meet four times each year over the life of the project, including a pre-sowing meeting (February), early establishment crop walk (June), pre-canopy closure crop walk (August) and a pre-harvest meeting (October). The project will also deliver other workshops, events and communications across the southern region, to further advance knowledge, skills and capacity in pulse production and marketing.

The Pyramid Hill area was identified as an important area to target by BCG, as chickpea and lentil production is currently low, mainly due to soil type and subsoil constraints (high salinity, low pH) and lack of market access opportunities for pulses.

The first meeting of the North Central pulse check group visited a Pulse agronomy trial at a nearby farm, funded by the North Central CMA. This trial is investigating different varieties of pulses, (chickpea, lentil, pea, faba bean and lupin) on a constrained (low production) part of the paddock and a good (higher production) area of the paddock. The trial provided a strong discussion point for participants, with group members particularly interested in varieties that may have the best fit for their soil type and region. Janine Sounness from PB Seeds and Cameron Taylor from BCG provided the group with information on the paddocks soil test results and factors affecting crop growth, variety selection, crop topping and desiccation (how timing can affect grain quality) and suitable paddock selection for different pulse rotations.