Researchers from Agriculture Victoria and the Grains Research and Development Corporation are helping to boost the production of pulses by testing new varieties and harnessing new technology, capitalising on a growing domestic and global market.
The project is supporting growers in the Mallee to expand their crop rotations to include fit-for-purpose pulse crops.
“Victoria’s scientists are playing a crucial role in helping our farmers to adapt to changing conditions and meet the global surge in consumer demand for plant-based, alternative proteins,” Victorian minister for Agriculture Mary-Anne Thomas said.
“It’s fantastic to see innovation unlocking new opportunities for the Mallee and ensuring Victoria is well-positioned to benefit from the growth potential of this sector.”
Field research sites have been set up in the Mallee including one at Sea Lake, which enables researchers to test the performance of pulse types. Breeders will be able to target traits to develop new plant varieties that will withstand dry conditions, thrive in local soil types and be more resistant to pests and disease.
These trials have already uncovered two pea varieties, PBA Noosa and PBA Taylor, which are adaptable to most pea growing regions in Australia and are commercially suitable for both export and domestic markets.
Large-scale field trials in the northern Mallee have also been established, including a Southern Pulse Agronomy field site at Kooloonong. Scientists are investigating how pulses can be grown in marginal areas to increase farm profitability and export earnings for Victoria’s growers.
“The Mallee has traditionally had limited options for pulse production and by investing in more research it will help farmers achieve greater yield stability, higher market value and improved crop diversity for those low rainfall areas,” Grains Research and Development Corporation interim managing director Cathie Warburton said.
In Horsham, researchers at Agriculture Victoria’s Smartfarm are investigating how sensor technologies can be used to measure grain quality in lentils and faba beans. This is supporting growers to target premium markets.
In 2019-20, Victoria produced 550,000 tonnes of pulses, with exports valued at $370 million and representing 33 per cent of Victoria’s grain exports.
With worldwide population growth and increased demand for plant protein, global pulse production is projected to increase by 23 per cent by 2030. Health-conscious consumers have contributed significantly to the demand for pulses due to their high protein and nutritional content.
For more information visit agriculture.vic.gov.au.