Quinoa and chickpea trials at Katherine Research Station

Callen Thompson, Senior Extension Agronomist

Department of Primary Industry and Fisheries staff at Katherine Research Station are running a number of trials assessing the genetics and agronomy of crops which could potentially be grown in a crop rotation in the Northern Territory. Two field crops we are looking at are chickpeas and quinoa.

Chickpeas are a legume crop regularly grown in cropping regions from central New South Wales to central Queensland and represent a valuable part of cropping rotations. Chickpeas have been successfully grown in the Ord under flood irrigation. Seednet and NSW DPI have provided us with a number of commercial and a pre-release variety of chickpea to assess in the NT. We are assessing the suitability of five different varieties as well as the effect of sowing rate on yield.

Quinoa is a native of the Andes and has been a staple food in that region for over 5,000 years. This so-called super food has risen in popularity recently as it is a gluten free grain which is high in protein with a low glycaemic index. There are commercial producers growing quinoa in the Ord, Tasmania, and the Western Australian wheat belt. DPIF are working within a national Rural Industry Research and Development Corporation project looking at genetics and agronomic management of quinoa. Similar trials are being run in each state, with the Western Australian Department of Agriculture and Food working as the lead agency.

Our trial is looking at genetics, sowing time, plant population and nutrition. We hope to run a herbicide trial at KRS and another variety trial at Alice Springs.

Both of these crops have to undergo more assessment before we are comfortable recommending them to producers. The next step is to look at crop rotations that could include chickpeas or quinoa and then asses their profitability within the system.

DPIF will hold a field walk later in the season to look at the diversification work currently being run on the Katherine Research Station, so stay tuned.

Emerging quinoa plants sown zero till into sabi grass pastureEmerging quinoa plants sown zero till into sabi grass pasture

Last updated: 29 June 2016