On country originally intended for cotton, Rob Houghton, “Ravensbourne” Leeton, planted 194ha Adzuki beans because the wet winter slowed development of the fields for cotton.
“We ran out of time to get a good preparation for planting cotton so I swung to Adzuki beans,” he said.
“It is a 90 day crop and we planted most between Christmas and New year.”
Mr Houghton further pointed out Adzuki beans are a good rotation crop on his irrigated 530ha he operates in partnership with wife Jenny.
He said his current cropping enterprise consists of 194ha Adzuki beans along with 74ha Rezig rice, but the potential on his fully developed irrigation property is to grow rice, maize, soybeans and cotton along with Adzuki beans in rotation.
“We have developed a fully automated watering system and this is the first year it has been fully operational,” Mr Houghton said.
It is about being efficient when water is our most expensive resource
This is the second time Mr Houghton has grown Adzuki beans, and it will be a feature of his rotation in the future.
“We had a good crop in 2005 when the price was $2000/tn landed, but the price does vary a lot as Japan is the main market,” he said.
“There is a ‘price spike’ at present to $1350/tn landed at Kingaroy, and that contributed to our decision to sow.”
Mr Houghton said he is pretty happy with his decision to sow the legume.
“It is podding nicely and the plants are a reasonable size,” he said.
“It is a good rotation crop for cotton and as far as I’m concerned I will sow a legume if I can, so it fits my enterprise mix.”
Mr Houghton said the potential of his crop looks like being an above average yield of between 1.75tn to 2tn/ha.
“If we can average two tonnes I will be happy,” he said.
So far, there has been minimal damage by insects and no issues with Heliothis armigera, the insect that also affects cotton crops.
“We have been chipping broadleaf plants such as fathen, but weed control is similar to that in a soybean crop,” Mr Houghton explained.
“Inter-row cultivation or spraying of weeds is possible, but we also needed to chip the weeds growing between the bean plants.”
Savings from automated irrigation system
“I wanted to get away from siphons,” Robert Houghton, “Ravensbourne”, Leeton said when explaining his decision to develop his families’ 530ha to a fully automated irrigation system.
“There was also the extra work associated with the pontoon area, so we installed 750mm pipes with Padman drop box at the front and Padman bubbler on the discharge side,” he said.
Mr Houghton had studied the latest technological developments in irrigated systems installed on neighboring properties along with the IREC field station and regional trail site at Whitton.
“I could see opportunities with the technology to improve water use efficiency,” he said.
“It is about being efficient when water is our most expensive resource.”
With his ‘pipe through the bank’ irrigation system, Mr Houghton said he is able to run half a megalitre of water in four hours along 550m furrows.
“That is about half the time it took with siphons and with an added benefit of only having 25 percent return water it is certainly more effective than the previous method,” he said.
“It is really working well in this first year … I am ecstatic with the results.”
Mr Houghton noted in hindsight, crops were being ‘over watered’ when using siphons, but now he is confident the whole field is irrigated effectively.
“In the 30 years I’ve been farming this is simply the most beneficial concept I have come across,” he said.
“I can see evenness in our Adzuki bean crop because we have been successful in delivering accurate amounts of water when it is needed.”
Mr Houghton is always improving the effectiveness of his farming methods.
“I’ve got to keep ahead of the game in order to lift the value of our asset base,” he said.