Soybean could be a high value cash crop for more growers

Growers could be onto a new cash income if they can get their hands on a guide to growing soybean as a rotational crop

Soybean could be just the cash injection many growers are seeking as a rotational crop shown here with NSW Department of Primary Industries Natalie Moore and Oakwood grower Brad Schwark – Image: NSW DPI

Local growers and agronomists can get free soybean training and technical resources to grow a cash crop with a just released online manual that explains everything.

Adapted from the ‘Better Soybean Training Manual’, is part of the joint initiative aimed at supporting the expansion of the local soybean industry by providing regular updates.

CEO of Pulse Australia, Nick Goddard, said the Australian soybean industry is a small and complex yet valuable industry that would benefit significantly from the initiative.

“While the Australian soybean industry is relatively small by global standards, it plays an important role in many farming systems as a rotation crop across eastern Australia through improving soil fertility and as a disease break.

“It is also increasingly providing a higher value crop option for growers,” Nick Goddard added.

Soybean is adaptable to a wide range of farming systems with varieties suited to various row spacings and plant populations– Image: NSW DPI

GRDC senior regional manager Gillian Meppem said that strategic RD&E investment is playing a vital role in building growers’ confidence in trialling new or non-traditional crops such as soybean.

“GRDC has been supportive of increasing grain production in non-traditional areas by ground-truthing or testing known research at local levels, so growers and advisers understand how outcomes can be applied on-farm in different regions,” Gillian Meppem added.

“This resource is another opportunity to assist growers to make informed decisions into new cropping rotations from the beginning of their venture,” Gillian Meppem concluded.

Meanwhile, NSW Department of Primary Industries research agronomist at the Grafton Primary Industries Institute, Dr Natalie Moore, and Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries senior development extension officer, Carla Atkinson, explain that the modules will include a variety of information. 

“The manual is quite unique in that it contains 10 interactive online modules. In each module there is material including diagnostic photographs, pop-out printable checklists and factsheets, videos, and links to other cropping resources such as GRDC updates, published trial reports, and cropping guides,” Natalie Moore explained.

Functional nodules on soybean roots are firm with an orange-red colour inside. Estimates of annual nitrogen (N) fixation in Australia shows that soybean is the highest of the N-fixing grain legumes at 180kg N fixed/ha – Image: NSW DPI

Natalie Moore adds that although the manual is primarily aimed at agronomists, all the information is available to growers.

“Lack of training for agronomists in soybean production has been an industry-wide issue that we’ve been very keen to address, but we’re also making the resources publicly available online so that anyone can access and benefit from the information, including growers, Natalie Moore concluded. 

Carla Atkinson explains that the manual’s information has been curated by leading industry experts under 10 primary modules.

“Currently, we only have a print version of the ‘Better Soybean Training Manual’. This new online manual has been completely reviewed and updated by industry experts and packaged into an easy-to-access web format.

“We have an excellent variety of information curated in 10 modules: 1) marketing, 2) rotation and variety choice, 3) crop nutrition, 4) plant growth and development, 5) agronomy, 6) weed management, 7) disease management, 8) pest management, 9) harvesting, and 10) safe storage.

The project will also encompass several workshops commencing in August and September 2023– Image: NSW DPI

Ms Atkinson adds that the project will also encompass several workshops commencing in August and September 2023 to support and expand on these modules.

“The first round of workshops will provide an opportunity for agronomists from different areas to come together and share knowledge, exchange ideas, and network with industry peers,” Carla Atkinson concluded.

Workshop dates will be communicated later in the year via the GRDC website. 

The Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC) partnered with Soy Australia, the Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, and the NSW Department of Primary Industries to develop the online Soybean Production Manual: A complete guide to growing soybean in Australia.

To view the Soybean Production Manual online, see more on this link.