Peas and beans are rich sources of plant protein, are gluten-free and contain a starch with the potential to reverse diabetes when consumed as part of a prescriptive diet, but the crops are challenging to grow well. To help more farmers grow and gain value from these pulses the PGRO runs two Yield Enhancement Networks (YEN) to share best practice.
Peas and beans fix nitrogen in the soil, making it available to other plants when grown in a rotation, so they are a good break crop between cereals. However, the price gained can vary greatly depending on the quality of the product, particularly its colour, and the yield can often fall short of the biophysical potential of up to 12t/ha.
The crop requires skill to grow well and, despite best efforts by the industry, yields have been falling over recent years. Lack of consistency – both in quantity and quality – mean that peas are perceived as risky by growers, and this has restricted investment in this crop.
Pea YEN and Bean YEN aim to provide growers with benchmarking to achieve a perfect pulse crop and to gain a better understanding of the common factors constraining yields in the UK. They are not competitions and are based solely on ‘Share to Learn’ principles.
To increase accessibility of the networks, entries do not require verified weighbridge tickets for reporting yield, and there are a number of fully sponsored opportunities for entrants.
Powering Pea Productivity
To better understand the UK market opportunity for peas and to create a roadmap for increasing the quality and quantity of the crop, individuals from across the value-chain were brought together in 2019 to participate in a workshop, ‘Powering Pea Productivity’, co-ordinated by the John Innes Centre with support from PGRO and Agri-TechE and sponsored by the BBSRC.
Scene-setting talks outlined the new market opportunities for pea protein, fibre and starch as nutritional and functional food ingredients, the constraints on cultivation and the external impacts on value of the crop. Then the delegates were asked to discuss the challenges and identify the priorities for further knowledge creation.
Seven key themes emerged:
- Soil health and improved rhizobia performance
- Crop nutrition
- Good farm practice and evidence-based technology
- Alternative pest control
- Alternative disease control
- Breeding for improved plant physiology and growth
- Development of new food markets
A detailed report was created capturing the information delivered in the workshop, it is available to read here.
Contact details for the Pea YEN and Bean Yen
Membership of a YEN includes:
- One entrance into the annual Pea YEN benchmarking network
- One free NRM Soil Health Check
- A comprehensive report on your crop’s performance
- One ticket to the Annual Pea YEN Conference
Pea YEN 2020 – visit yen.adas.co.uk/projects/pea-yen or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Bean YEN 2020 – visit yen.adas.co.uk/projects/bean-yen or email email@example.com
Or contact PGRO directly by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
John Innes Centre is also involved in a number of projects to improve breeding – PCGIN is featured in GARNISH December 2019 / EDITION 32 PLANTED: GENE EDITING IN PLANTS
Sponsors and funders of the Pea Yen and Bean Yen:
- NRM Laboratories
- Lancrop Laboratories
- Princes Group