Lupins and soya – viable alternatives to OSR?

The increasing difficulties with OSR in recent years have led to growers seeking a sustainable, profitable alternative, but this hasn’t come without its challenges.

Rob Nightingale, Frontier crop production specialist, suggests that lupins and soya could be the solution.  

“There are now a number of viable end market options for these alternative proteins,” Rob explains. 

“Frontier is working with partners, such as ABN, to generate alternative, sustainable protein markets to create a full supply chain. This connection with the end buyer means we create the expectation of what is possible in the field, where crops can be grown, and how this can be maintained long-term, creating a viable solution for our customers.”

Rob says this means thoughts should turn to the other consideration – can I grow the crop?

“Historically, peas and beans have been the ‘go-to’ break crop, but lupins and soya are slowly increasing in popularity, with several trials across the UK investigating optimum growing conditions and the required herbicide programmes.

“This season, Frontier grew 500 acres of lupins in sites across the south of England, running extensive herbicide programmes to see how best to get the crop established, and have been pleasantly surprised with performance. It looks a practical option for growers in 2021, and likewise we’re in the early stages of soya trials, so watch this space to find out how it could be a part of your rotation in the coming years.”

Exploring market opportunities

There are agronomic benefits to introducing an alternative break crop but there has to be a market for the resulting harvest for this to be truly viable long term.

A spokesperson for ABN said of the work with Frontier “We are very interested in exploring opportunities to source alternative sustainable protein sources, especially those that could be UK grown. As such we are investing in trials using lupin protein as part of the ration in our poultry and pig feeds and initial work looks very positive.”   

Checklist for lupins in 2021:

Rob’s considerations for those considering growing lupins in 2021:

-       Soil pH of less than 7.5

-       Drilling window around the first week of April

-       Harvest in early to mid-September

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About The Author

John Swire - Deputy editor of Agronomist and Arable Farmer as well as responsibility for the Agronomist and Arable Farmer and Farm Business websites. After 17 years milking cows on the family farm John started writing about agriculture in 1998 and has since written for a variety of publications and has developed a wide circle of contacts within the industry. When not working John is a season ticket holder at Stoke City and also of late has become a fitness freak, listing cycling, swimming and walking as his exercises of choice.