Field benas are well-suited to the Irish climate
Field beans are well-suited to the Irish climate with a relatively high yield potential, and can deliver a potential margin comparable to winter cereals.
Winter Beans have the potential to yield between 6 and 8 tonnes per hectare, and 4.5 - 7.5 t/ha for spring varieties
However, despite support from the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine in the form of a protein payment, the area of beans sown in Ireland remains small.
Dr Ewen Mullins, Head of the Teagasc Crop Science Department, Oak Park, said: “The on-going perceived variability in yield, inadequate varietal development, late harvest and limited agronomic information, including disease control, in the Irish context are some of the suspected reasons associated with the current low area. Based on preliminary data collated by Teagasc, high variability in field beans performance was noted across the country in 2020.”
The 2020 growing season varied considerably across Ireland with growers experiencing conditions from drought in the midlands, to excellent growing conditions in the south, higher than normal disease in many parts, to storm damage in exposed areas, and a somewhat delayed harvest.
Capturing farmer actions in light of these challenges is extremely valuable to help understand where farmer actions may affect yield variability.
Teagasc is encouraging growers to complete a short online survey https://www.surveymonkey. com/r/HFDFQQ8 in order to capture growers’ experiences and actions which may have had an effect on crop growth and development.
Dr Mullins said: “The primary market advantage for Irish grown beans is as an indigenous traceable source of protein in animal feed rations that can displace imported proteins and ensure the traceability credentials of Irish food exports. Indeed, nutritionally beans compete favourably with import sources, with the protein and energy characteristics of field beans comparable to maize distillers meal, and at an appropriate price differential competing favourably with soya.”
Further benefits include acting as an excellent break crop in cereal rotations, with lower nitrogen requirements in succeeding crops due to the natural ability of beans to fix Nitrogen. Considering the Farm to Fork goal of reducing Nitrogen inputs, the role of field beans in rotation will become more critical in the years ahead.
The survey https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/HFDFQQ8 is currently active and will deliver an increased understanding of factors influencing returned yields and support on-going research at Teagasc Oak Park. This will in turn assist in the design of improved management regimes for field beans in Ireland in order to support the growth of the domestic market for beans.