FREE Eyre, GRDC and the Clear Grain Exchange are pleased to announce the winners of Australia’ first ever Nodulation Challenge.

Launched in July 2015, the challenge set out to find the best nodulating legume or pasture crops across South Australia – and to give free, expert feedback from GRDC to all participants.

To capture farmer’s interest, a DJI Phantom 3 drone complete with HD camera & carry-case, valued at $2,500 (sponsored by GRDC) was the major prize. Individual category winners would also receive an annual Profarmer Australia subscription - valued @ $800.

The nitrogen that is fixed by these crops or pasture and becomes available for the next cereal or canola crop is one of the unseen and often most under-valued benefits of growing legumes.

Participants dug up a legume plant, washed away the soil and photographed the root mass of the plant against the backdrop a black placard.

Challenge coordinator and FREE Eyre’s Eyre Peninsula representative, Matt Lewis was extremely pleased with the level of interest and entries received from throughout South Australia.


“As we know, the dry end to the season did no favours for legume crop yields across the state Nonetheless, prior to the drying long weekend in October, there were some excellent legume crops in place.  It was a pleasure to see many legume crops - with the correct seed treatment applications – performing so well and clearly adding significant volumes of valuable nitrogen to their soils.”

Entries were judged for the number and distribution of nodules (out of 50 points), evidence of pink inside the nodule and therefore fixing nitrogen (20 points), general plant and root health (10 points) and for general effort with regard to photo quality and the completion of required information (20 points).  Judges from GRDC and PIRSA scored the entries independently, and in general, there was strong agreement on the best entries.  

PIRSA’s Ross Ballard was a member of the judging panel and commented “there were several outstanding entries, but in the end, Murdinga’s Andrew Heath’s chickpea entry scored very well against all categories.”

“This was our first year of growing these Monarch (kabuli type) chick peas having seen them perform well in previous legume trials that take place on one of our properties.  They looked worth trialing on a larger scale, so we bought enough seed to plant 20 hectares this season.  The seed was treated with a dry inoculant prior to planting at 100kg/ha, although next year we think we’ll plant at 120kg/ha.  We applied 45kg/ha of 9/13 at seeding time.”

“I was extremely excited to receive Matt’s phone call, informing me that I was the winner of the grand prize.  Having a drone has been something that I’ve been keen to purchase for some time so I can’t wait to finish harvest and really get into learning how it works.” Commented Andrew

Andrew said that he had never dug up a legume plant to check for nodulation in the past, so the “Show us your Nods” challenge was a real learning exercise for him and many of his neighbours.

I can’t thank Matt Lewis, FREE Eyre, GRDC and the Clear Grain Exchange enough for establishing this Challenge and for opening many farmer’s eyes on the benefits of good legume seed treatment preparations.

FREE Eyre will again run the “Show us ya Nods” challenge in 2016.  All entries submitted to the Challenge are available to view on the FREE Eyre website or Facebook account.

Individual category winners:



Brian Dzoma, Minnipa



Mark and Kelly Dolling, Kielpa



Meridee Groves, Booleroo Centre



Michael “Jock” North, Wudinna


Faba bean

Tom Henderson, Elliston

For further information:

Matt Lewis 0400 874 137 (or 1300 373 339) or Andrew Heath 0408 448 671

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