'Beans can outperform spring barley by €34/ha'- things to consider when growing beans

Young Farmers examine soya bean in trailer after harvest
Young Farmers examine soya bean in trailer after harvest
Claire Fox

Claire Fox

Beans yields took a major hit last summer when Storm Emma in March led to late plantings and the drought of summer 2018 meant yields only amounted to 2.5t/ha on average.

While the higher protein payment of €350/ha helped most farmers, many farmers have questioned whether beans are a viable option for their farm system for 2019.

With high yield forecasts and profits on the horizon, Teagasc has said tillage farmers shouldn’t be so quick to turn away from beans.


It says beans provide a good break crop in rotations allowing first crop wheat production to be increased. Beans can fix nitrogen which reduces applied fertiliser requirements in the following crops.

They are also a combinable crop which means tillage farmers don’t have to purchase any additional equipment to harvest them.

Further, Teagasc also highlights that beans allow farmers to complete the three crop rule requirement and allow for the control weeds.

Yields- don't plant if the season goes late

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As a result of the 2018 drought bean yields dropped to 2.5t/ha on a reduced area due to an especially late spring. If planting takes place after April yields are usually reduced. Teagasc advises not to plant if the season goes late.


David Shortall of Quinn’s Ballinglass told FarmIreland that there was reasonable uptake for the company’s €220/t bean contract for 2019 at 22pc moisture which it offered until last Friday, after extending their deadline by a week.

Mr Shortall noted that  beans are an important source of protein and one that the EU are becoming more and more interested in.

Bobby Miller, head of the Irish Grain Growers Group said that in previous years beans only received prices under €200/tonne and that the offer by Quinns was a good opportunity for farmers to think about growing beans and added that its important the protein payment is set aside by the Department again this year to reward farmers for their efforts.

Beans also deliver a slight increase on margin of €34/ha over spring barley, according to Teagasc.

The Department of Agriculture will more than likely issue a protein payment this year that could be greater or less than €250/ha depending on the total protein area.

The margin is similar to the latest Teagasc Profit Monitor results for 2017 where the margin from spring beans was €482/ha compared to €456/ha for spring feed barley.

Mr Shortall told FarmIreland that Quinns were continuing to trial a non GM soyabean crop.

“We started growing the crop last year, yields weren’t great due to the drought. We’ll try it again this year. It’s similar to growing beans so there definitely is scope for it.”


Mr Miller pointed out that the European Commission is exploring how to harness the potential of EU protein plant production and how it can best respond to the needs of farmers, producers and consumers/

The most common protein-rich plants are soybean, legumes (grain and fodder) and oilseeds. A source of amino acids for livestock, plant proteins are a vital component of animal feed, and are thus essential to EU farming.

“By developing protein in Ireland the EU it will provide more income for farmers and reduce the effects of climate change. It also provides more food for animals and would mean we could import less feed,” he said.


Teagasc will host its National Tillage Conference in the Lyrath Hotel, Kilkenny from 9am to 4pm tomorrow. The conference will address how best farmers can respond to future income and weather challenges.

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