Scientists set pulses racing, weeding out plant pests to unlock potential new crop

Published Saturday, 13 November, 2021 at 11:35 AM

Minister for Agricultural Industry Development and Fisheries and Minister for Rural Communities
The Honourable Mark Furner

Queensland is poised to join the global plant protein revolution with a new pulse crop after researchers discovered how to control weeds in pigeonpea.

Minister for Agricultural Industry Development and Fisheries Mark Furner said scientists from the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries have found a way to outsmart the weeds and minimise crop production loss.

“The Palaszczuk Government through its Pigeonpea Initiative is investing in innovation so Queensland farmers can be the best in the world,” Mr Furner said.

“There is enormous opportunity for pigeonpea production in Queensland as a summer cash crop, but until now our knowledge of effective weed control in these pulse plants has been limited.

“This breakthrough takes us a step closer to having a resilient and productive new summer crop for Queensland growers.”

The research is another boost for Queensland’s agriculture sector, which is an essential industry in Queensland and a key element of Queensland’s COVID-19 Economic Recovery Plan.

Agri-Science Queensland researchers identified a diverse range of herbicides which are safe for use in pigeonpea and experimented with agronomy techniques at Kingaroy and Emerald.

By manipulating agronomy including row spacing, cultivar and planting date, they reduced the light penetrating the crop canopy by up to 75 per cent, reducing weed growth and seed production.

The scientists found the application of herbicides and good crop agronomy has the potential to provide effective (>95 per cent) and sustainable weed control and minimise crop production losses due to weeds. The research now has to be validated in the field.

Mr Furner said pigeonpea, one of the world’s most widely-consumed pulses, represents a major opportunity for Queensland to capitalise on global markets for healthy, trusted and sustainable plant-based protein and high-value pulse commodities.

“With further research, pigeonpea could eventually surpass mungbean as the best broadacre, dryland summer cropping option for subtropical Queensland,” he said.

The Palaszczuk Government’s Pigeonpea Initiative started in 2019 to identify appropriate varieties and agronomic packages to effectively and reliably service high value export markets with high quality grain.

Media contact:          Ron Goodman            0427 781 920