A five-year project led by researchers from The University of Western Australia to improve food and nutritional security has exceeded expectations by delivering a 45% increase in lentil production over five years.
Led by Professor William Erskine from UWA’s Centre for Plant Breeding and Genetics, and Institute of Agriculture, the five-year project was funded by the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR) to revitalise pulse production in Bangladesh without affecting rice cropping.
Through a combination of agronomic practices, new varieties and disease management, lentil production in the Bangladeshi districts studied increased from 120,000 to 173,000 tonnes annually over five years from 2010.
Professor Erskine said they employed a practice known as relay sowing, where primed lentil seed is broadcast into standing monsoonal rice, approximately two weeks prior to rice harvest.
“The relay-sown lentil matured in sufficient time to allow the land to be prepared for a succeeding rain-fed rice crop,” Prof Erskine said.
“Besides intensifying and diversifying cropping, the increased lentil production impacts the local community through the extra employment during fallow periods when no rice is in the field.”
Waterlogging-tolerant and drought-tolerant germplasm best suited to the local conditions were selected from the International Centre for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas (ICARDA) with Bangladesh Agricultural Research Institute and were managed through International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), Bangladesh Office.
The project also developed an improved sowing method and pest management package for mung bean during summer season using a similar approach as taken as for lentil. Similar results were observed in production.
“Soil fertility was also improved as relay sowing technology reduces fertiliser nitrogen use in subsequent crops,” Prof Erskine said.
“The positive results of the pulse revitalisation project come as we celebrate the UN International Year of Pulses 2016.”
The research, Relay sowing of lentil (Lens culinaris subsp. culinaris) to intensify rice-based croppingwas recently published in the Journal of Agricultural Sciences.
Professor William Erskine (+61 8) 6488 1903
Diana Boykett (Communications Officer, The UWA Institute of Agriculture) (+61 8) 6488 3756 / (+61 4) 04 152 262