Irish agriculture depends significantly on imported protein crops, especially soya bean meal for animal feed. If we can develop or improve new or existing protein crops, we can unlock current constraints and increase native protein production. Protein crops are also excellent break crops.
Yield instability of faba beans makes the crop less attractive for farmers and processors.
Therefore, we need improved agronomic practices to help deliver the full potential of this crop and increase the area grown.
Peas can grow well in Ireland, but lodging is a serious issue, even with semi-leafess cultivars
Peas are an inexpensive and readily available source of protein, complex carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals. The crop is a valuable food and feed commodity and it is the third most economically important grain legume after soya bean and beans. Peas can grow well in Ireland, but lodging is a serious issue, even with semi-leafess cultivars.
This has limited the attractiveness of peas for tillage farmers, but practical measures to control lodging could add another crop to tillage diversity, as well as increase protein crop options.
What are we looking at?
Research on beans has looked at seed rate and time of sowing, nutrition requirement, pesticide programmes, winter and spring varieties and cultivation systems. We are also evaluating novel breeding material for disease resistance potential.
For peas, we are developing mixed cropping systems (field pea/faba bean) to increase the standing ability in both winter- and spring-sown field pea.
Survey information from growers indicated that sowing spring beans between mid-February and mid-March delivers better crop establishment and higher yields.
This also confirmed that 30 to 40 seeds/m2 is optimum and, dependent on disease pressure, a two- or three-spray programme may be required for chocolate spot control.
The yield potential of this material is also being assessed
We are currently screening up to 200 varieties for resistance to chocolate spot.
The yield potential of this material is also being assessed. Hopefully, this will identify good sources of resistance for future breeding, alongside high yield potential.
Our work in peas shows that lodging can be effectively addressed through a mixed cropping approach with beans. The bean plants support the peas up to full maturity without lodging, even in less favourable conditions.