THE days of growing poor performing lupins just to feed stock could be coming to an end as field peas present a better all-round option.
Agriculture Department research shows field peas are the highest yielding and most widely adapted grain legume for the WA grain belt.
Field peas not only perform well on medium and heavy soil types but also on sandy surfaced soils and duplex soils.
Pulse extension officer Ian Pritchard said field peas would produce higher yields and a quality stockfeed on many soil types where lupins were difficult to grow.
"Many lupin crops are only grown for on-farm sheep feed due to lupins' easy feed, high protein and high energy properties," Mr Pritchard said.
"However, results from a grazing trial with cross-bred lambs, by the Muresk Institute of Agriculture, showed that other pulses such as field peas and faba beans were a good alternative to lupins."
The results showed that lambs grazing faba beans were heavier with higher growth rates than lambs grazing either field peas or lupins.
The dressing percentage of lambs grazing field peas was higher than those grazing faba beans or lupins and lambs grazing lupins had significantly whiter fat than lambs grazing faba beans or field peas, yet there were no differences in meat colour.
Mr Pritchard said growers who had already made the change to field peas had also enjoyed the benefit of sowing field peas at the end of the sowing program as opposed to lupins which needed to be sown early to maximise yield.
Because of the later sowing time for field peas, a knockdown herbicide could be used to control early germinating weeds prior to sowing.
"This season we anticipate more than 100,000ha will be sown to field peas, due mostly to new semi-leafless field pea varieties such as Kaspa eliminating concerns about harvesting and wind erosion," Mr Pritchard said.
"Kaspa has a substantially improved structure for harvest, which can make the harvesting of Kaspa as easy as harvesting cereals.
"Kaspa also has a sugar pod trait that reduces pod shatter and results in very low harvest losses."
Mr Pritchard said grazing became less of a temptation and prevented wind erosion.