Raising the pulse to 10 tonnes per hectare

Raising the pulse to 10 tonnes per hectare

By Rachel Holdsworth - 06 November 2016

Although the area under legumes may have increased this year according to PGRO data, the variability in the yield has been marked, with a range from one to seven tons per hectare. Peas and beans are a challenging crop to grow but new research is emerging that suggests that higher and more consistent yields are within reach and there is potential to double the value of the industry in 5 years. Findings from a trial by ADAS and recommendations from a number of pulse specialists are to be discussed in a workshop 'Raising the Pulse' to be held on 11 November in Agri-Tech Week.

Dr Ian Smillie of ADAS says that the yield of the crop is a function of the resources available – water from the soil and energy from the sun – and increasing its ability to utilize these resources will boost yield.

He says: “In theory there are sufficient resources available for plants to gain ten tons or more a hectare, but to achieve this consistently requires every aspect of the crop to work more efficiently. When comparing the performance of the real crop to our theoretical model the biggest deciding factor seems to be the duration of the leaf canopy. If you can bring forward emergence and delay die back then the yields are highest.

“This year we had a wet start so peas were planted slightly later and a hot dry spell meant the crop was dying back in mid-July, shortening the growing season. Yield was greatest where local conditions meant that there was an extended growing season.”

2016, the ‘International Year of Pulses’, is being marked in Agri-Tech Week (7-11 November) by a one-day workshop at Rothamsted Research, in Harpenden, where agronomists and experts from UK research organisations ADAS, James Hutton, JIC, NIAB, PGRO, and Rothamsted Research will be contributing to discussions and presentations about the latest developments in pulse research and the new market opportunities.

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