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‘Legume leader’ set to share 40 years of lupin experience

Ed Naisbitt seeks decision support from a range of sources including his wife Theresa (left) and Justine Tyson, ConsultAg Agronomist and Executive Officer of the Lakes Information and Farming Technology group. He is now stepping up to share his experience with the industry as a ’Legume Leader’.
Photo: Evan Collis

"Don’t rely on any ONE but do rely on EVERY one," is Ed Naisbitt’s philosophy when it comes to making farming decisions.

A third-generation grower, Ed operates a 100 per cent cropping operation with his wife Theresa at Lake Grace in the wheatbelt of Western Australia, four hours south east of Perth.

Theresa hails from Canada and met Ed whilst backpacking around Australia in her 20s. She joined the family business equipped with a degree in chemistry and an enquiring mind.

“Farming is a challenging industry and you need to draw on collective knowledge to inform your management,” Theresa says.

The Naisbitt’s source advice from their bank manager, accountant, financial advisor, five agronomists – including one of their daughters – a grain trader and their peers.

“Don’t rely on the first answer to a question” says Ed, “One of the most valuable aspects of our farming partnership is the probing questioning by Theresa.”

“This thoroughly ground-truths our decisions and often results in revisions.”

Ed notes that a huge challenge in running a cropping business is that growers are price takers not only for many inputs including diesel, fertiliser and chemicals but also for the grain they produce.

The component we do have influence over, however, is our farming systems and it is here we can effect change for economic advantage by farming smarter not harder.

The Naisbitt’s crop over 5,000 hectares in several blocks spread over a 70-kilometre length which poses challenges in both variable soil types and climate as the southern-most blocks are exposed to more maritime conditions. This means that they farm in ‘blocks’ of crop types to bring efficiencies to all crop operations.

Barley is the dominant crop in their crop rotations, followed by wheat, canola and legumes. The legumes include both field peas and lupins and the Naisbitt’s are staunch advocates for lupins that comprise 15 per cent of their rotation and have been grown on the property for 40 years.

To this end, Ed has decided it is time to give back and has taken a role as a ‘Legume leader’ as part of the Grower Group Alliances’ GRDC-supported project ‘Closing the economic yield gap of grain legumes in WA’. He is embarking on a new challenge as a champion for lupins to share knowledge and experience of the crop with his peers. The project involves 13 grower groups from Yuna to Esperance and six  'legume leaders' have so far agreed to share their collective growing experiences with grain legumes used in WA.

Working closely with agronomist Justine Tyson from ConsultAg and Executive Officer of the Lakes Information and Farming Technology (LIFT) group, the Naisbitt’s are hosting lupin trials on their farm. Together with his 40 years of lupin production experience, findings from these trials will underpin Ed’s new role.

“The opportunity for different weed control options in lupins, together with their nitrogen fixing ability makes the following crop your best crop.”

The trials have been focussed on phosphorus fertiliser requirements, weed control options and rotational benefits of lupins. Results are available from LIFT.

We are benefiting from continual improvements in lupin varieties and inoculums.  Sowing configurations and reducing harvest loss may provide further opportunities for us to close the yield gap for lupins.

Theresa says grower groups provide an important means of not only sharing knowledge through projects such as this one to improve crop production but a vital role in social connectiveness.

More information contact GGA and view Closing the economic yield gap of grain legumes in WA.

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