Chris McDonough 1, Michael Moodie 2
1 Rural Solutions SA, 2 Mallee Sustainable Farming (MSF)
• Chickpeas were consistently amongst the highest yielding pulses at this site across all soil types (Fig 3) and EM38 ranges. They produced the highest gross margins on both the deep sand and mid-slope soils.
• Chickpeas appear to be a viable option for northern Mallee farmers, with ease of reaping being a distinct advantage over other pulse options. There is however much to be learnt about the challenges and risks involved in maintaining good seed size and high quality for marketing in these environments. While there may be less disease pressure in low rainfall areas, good agronomic management is still very important, as each decline in grade quality can significantly affect price and profitability. Many of these issues will be sorted out as more farmers grow chickpeas in these areas.
• Vetch produced the highest gross margin on the high EM38 loamy soils, mainly due to its lower input costs due to a lower seeding rate (Table 1). Vetch remains a relatively safe, easily marketable, versatile break crop option. The brown manured section of the vetch plot will be tested against all other treatments for N contributions in March 2015. Other recent Mallee soil survey work has shown vetch to contribute significantly higher levels of N to the following crops than other pulse options (see http://msfp.org.au/vetch-maximises-n-advantage/ ).
• Lentils grew very poorly on the sand and only produced a positive gross margin on the loamy flats (Table 1).
• While the timing of the severe early frosts affected both lupins and pea yields in patches, it is also recognised that peas often grow well in northern Malllee although their frost risk remains very high in most seasons.