News

The answer to riches is in beans: farmer

GROWING: Robert Quirk in his faba bean fields.
GROWING: Robert Quirk in his faba bean fields. Scott Powick

IN A story that shares some similarities to the one that recounts how a boy called Jack once swapped his cow for beans that he hoped would lead him to fortune, a Tweed farmer has turned to the oval-shaped legumes in a bid to restore riches to his soil.

Tweed cane farmer Robert Quirk said he was forced to think outside the box after floodwaters washed away important topsoil and nitrogen from his paddocks.

Mr Quirk, who recently had CSIRO representatives visit his property to study his approaches to land management, said he turned to faba beans, more commonly known as broad beans, in a bid to restore goodness to his soil through a natural approach.

"This will make a real difference," he said.

"It will add about 100kg per hectare unit of nitrogen, which is fairly good."

In simple terms, Mr Quirk said faba beans would hold nitrogen already present in the soil while producing new nitrogen at the same time.

He said he would eventually plough the plants into the paddock to restore good growing properties.

Mr Quirk also recently hosted researchers investigating the affect flood had on local groundwater stores.

The research was led by Southern Cross University PhD candidate Jackie Webb.

It found groundwater from agricultural floodplains in the Tweed Valley are only released following flood events, while for the rest of the year groundwater was stored in the floodplain.

He said the research showed the benefits of sugar cane in reducing carbon.

"Sugar cane captures about nine tonnes of carbon per hectare per year," he said. "Sugar cane also helps draw down the water table, similar to the trees in the Murray Darling."

Topics:  canefarmers tweed cane tweed mp tweed shire council


Stay Connected

Update your news preferences and get the latest news delivered to your inbox.