Teagasc’s bean production seminars took place at two locations recently, in Newbridge and in Fermoy.

According to Tim O’Donovan, crops specialist with  Teagasc, more than 200 people attended the events over the two days. He said there was an even split of the audiences between agronomists and farmers.

O’Donovan said: “The events were a great success and we got a lot of positive feedback from the event.”

Presenting at the seminars was Jim Scrimshaw of the Processors and Growers Research Organisation. He focused on bean markets and some of the key management factors in bean production.

In starting his presentation Scrimshaw outlined the incredible growth in Chinese’s soyabean consumption over the past 20 years. He noted that consumption of beans in China has rose 3000 per cent since 1990 resulting in much higher world price for beans.

He commented: “Demand is growing globally as emerging economies consume more meat and beans are used as an alternative protein in production.

Scrimshaw highlighted that bean production has a number of key advantages: Firstly he said it is GM free for the most part. Secondly due to the fact no Nitrogen is required in bean production it aids Environmental pressure to reduce inputs and CO2 emissions. He also noted that due to beans rotational benefits and nitrogen fixing capacity they will assist with the sustainable farming agenda going forward.

Currently there are two markets for beans. Feed beans for animal consumption and premium markets for human consumption. Scrimshaw noted that there are a number of requirements for beans for human consumption including pale colour, pale hilum type, low levels of bruchid beetle infestation, smooth blemish-free skin, big, even size.

Scrimshaw cited that key points for success in the production of bean crops include successful establishment with good seed quality and soil conditions, optimum plant stand

He noted that farmers must be aware of risks to their crops and monitor them regularly to control damaging pests and diseases that are encouraged by weather conditions.

He stressed the damaging effects of soil compaction on success. Scrimshaw outlined that in compacted areas emergence and plant population can be reduced by between 12 and 40 per cent. Soil compaction also effects crop growth resulting in some cases a 50 per cent in early stage growth of bean crops. These issues can lead to a reduction in yield of 40 per cent in crops effected by soil compaction, he noted.

Waterlogging can also play a role in poor results according to Scrimshaw. He said after 24 hours of waterlogging stomata close down and transpiration stops. He added that after 48 hours leaves begin to desiccate and roots begin to break down. Root degradation from waterlogging is non-reversible he noted and plants exhibit typical foot rot symptoms.

Scrimshaw outlined some pointers for better soil management. He advised farmers to dig a test pit the year before they plan to sow peas or beans to check for structure problems. He said if pan exists use pan buster to break up compacted soil.

He also encouraged farmers to plough in autumn when soil is dry and only spring cultivate if soil is dry to moist.