Closer look at cropping in northern Australia

Farmers learn about agronomic and economic stability surrounding crops.
Farmers learn about agronomic and economic stability surrounding crops.

A COUPLE dozen NT producers gained an insight into the crop evaluation work conducted by the Department of Primary Industry and Resources at the Katherine Research Station's crop and hay field walk recently.

DPIR staff members, together with speakers from Archer Daniels Midland and Heritage Seeds, outlined current work on the research station and explained how the field work may lead into future production systems.

Topics covered included agronomic, economic and market suitability for a range of crops, including burgundy bean, soybean and cassava.

DPIR's Plant Industries Group senior extension agronomist Callen Thompson said the soybeans were being grown in partnership with ADM to assess the economic viability and agronomic suitability of soybeans in northern Australia.

"The Hayman variety is currently being grown, which is a high-yielding variety that has the ability to produce high quality grain that can be used to make tofu,” Mr Thompson said.

"Half the paddock is being irrigated when required and the other half is rain-fed only. The purpose of this is to evaluate the potential of soybeans as a dryland crop.

"Given the current 2017 wet season conditions, there is very little difference in growth, though we would suggest that this is not a normal season and dryland production would be a greater risk than irrigated. We will investigate both the agronomic and economic factors of these two irrigation management options.”

Burgundy beans are also being trialled to possibly offer an alternative to cavalcade as they both have a high protein content, high palatability and act as a nitrogen fixer.

Mr Thompson said two burgundy bean varieties, Garnet and Presto, had been supplied by Heritage Seeds, again with one half of the paddock being irrigated and the other half dryland.

"Yield and quality will be assessed and compared to the industry standard, cavalcade,” he said.

The economics of both soybean and burgundy bean grown under the different management strategies will be assessed at the end of the field work.

For more information, call 89739724.

Topics:  cropping crops farming northern territory

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