The Department of Agriculture and Food is trialling a seed crop touted for its health benefits, quinoa, in the Ord Valley.
Quinoa has been used for thousands of years by the people of Bolivia and Peru as an outstanding nutrition source and Australia currently imports the grain from these countries.
The department’s Frank Wise Institute research station manager Mark Warmington said researchers recently planted a trial of the very small seed crop Chenopodium quinoa, commonly referred to and sold in Australia as quinoa (pronounced keen-WAH).
It follows a preliminary assessment of the crop in Kununurra by department researchers in 2012.
“In recent years, researcher Jon Clements conducted small-scale field trials in collaboration with growers in the wheatbelt for the University of Western Australia, with funding support from the Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation,” Mr Warmington said.
“Dr Clements requested assistance from the department to trial the crop in Kununurra under the climatic conditions of the dry season in the Kimberley.
“He provided a small sample of pure, single plant-derived seed for preliminary assessment in 2012, along with some control species such as beans and lupin.”
The quinoa plants grew extremely well. Seed harvested from the trial was tested for germination and revealed more than 90 per cent viability.
That seed has now been planted for a larger trial in 2013 to get a better understanding of water requirements, fertiliser inputs and potential yield.
“The current trial will include a comparison of quinoa yield returns with current crops in the Ord Valley, such as chia and rice,” Mr Warmington said.
“Quinoa has the potential to be a good rotation broadleaf crop with the expected return of the sugarcane industry to Ord Stage 2.”
Quinoa is a gluten-free, nutrient-rich grain that has been acknowledged for its health benefits.
It is considered a complete protein source with a very balanced amino acid profile, antioxidants and a low glycaemic index.
The Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations (FAO) has officially declared 2013 as International Year of Quinoa.
Media contact: Jodie Thomson, media liaison +61 (0)8 9368 3937