There are many different varieties of lupin, each has a different climate and soil need, as well as varying resistance to diseases, weeds and insects. Lupins grow well in Australia, even in poor soils. This is seen in the success of crops grown on the nutrient deficient soils of the Western Australian wheat belt where they are used in a wheat-lupin rotation.
The main varieties of lupins grown in Australia are the narrow leafed lupin (Lupinus angustifolus) and the sweet albus lupin (Lupinus albus). The main lupin production areas are Western Australia, New South Wales, South Australia and Victoria.
Most Australian lupins are used as stock feed for ruminants like cattle, sheep and goats; and to a lesser degree for pigs and poultry. The Australian domestic market for lupins as stock feed is relatively small except in times of drought. The bulk of the crop is exported to Europe, Japan and Korea. A very small portion of lupins are sold for human consumption, although there are encouraging developments in this market in Western Australia.
The industry representative organisation for lupin growers is Pulse Australia. The Grains Research and Development Corporation, funded by grower levy and government funds, invests in research, development and extension for the Australian grains industry, including lupins.
Facts and figures
- The most popular lupin in Australia is the L.Angustifolus, commonly known as the narrow-leafed lupin, and marketed as Australian Sweet Lupin
- There are a range of lupin varieties suitable to a range of soil and climate conditions
- Lupins can be stored easily as they have a hard seed coat and a low moisture content
- Lupins are primarily used as a stock feed, although there is a growing market for human consumption
- The export price for Australian Sweet Lupin is firmly driven by the price and market for soymeal
About 80% of Australia’s lupins are produced in the wheat belt of Western Australia, with the remaining production in the south west slopes of New South Wales and Victoria and in the southern regions of South Australia. Western Australia is also the leading exporter of lupin grain. In 1998, total lupin production in Australia reached 1,249,568 tonnes with 86% produced in Western Australia, 9% in South Australia, 3% in New South Wales and 2% in Victoria. In recent years, production has stabilised to average 700,000 tonnes annually.