Alternative agriculture in the Mossman region


We've been exploring alternative agriculture options in the Mossman region. Our initial research is in the early stages with a small number of diversification trials.

More research into the localised genetics, management and suitability to the environment of these crops is required for advancement.

Growers are encouraged to explore viable post farmgate supply chains for the end product.


We explored alternative crops with soybean, peanut, sorghum and maize.

  • Soybean

    Soybean is a viable crop for the Mossman region with large areas of suitable soil and a number of tropical varieties well suited to wetter conditions. Planting and harvesting equipment is available.

    Yields of up to 2–3 tonnes per hectare have been achieved depending on the variety. There is knowledge and agronomic expertise locally and on the Tablelands for soybean, with markets on the Tablelands and a potential new market in Townsville into the future.

    Read the Soybean Production Manual for training and technical resources. Soy Australia partnered with the Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC), the Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries and the NSW Department of Primary Industries to develop the manual.

    Contact Soy Australia if you are interested in growing soybean.

  • Peanut

    Peanut has proven profitable in the Mossman region with large areas of suitable soil, noting a preference for lighter soil, sands, sandy loams and light clay loams.

    They can grow well as break crops in the sugarcane rotation, but can also grow outside these rotations.

    Peanut is grown during the fallow period (January to August) with reported yields of up to 4 tonne per hectare.

    There is agronomic advice and expertise from growers and agronomists locally and on the Tablelands. There’s a good long-term outlook for the market for Australian grown peanuts.

    Specialised planting and harvesting equipment is required for peanut production.

    Contact the Peanut Company of Australia if you are interested in growing peanuts.

  • Sorghum and maize

    Sorghum and maize can be grown as winter crops in the Mossman region, however there are some disease issues with sorghum due to extreme wet conditions that can develop in the wet tropics.

    There are large areas of suitable soil in the region with best planting periods April-May.

    It is expected yields of up to 2.5 tonnes per hectare for sorghum and 3.8 tonnes per hectare for maize could be achieved.

    Both have limited markets on the Tablelands as animal feed.

    Sorghum and maize have the potential to be profitable crops depending on the variety and market access.

Trial sites

We ran trials in 2 different locations.

Site 1 details

This trial site was established in 2022 and ran for 2 years across approximately 4 crop cycles.

  • Soybean (Hayman), Mungbean (Jade) and Azuki bean were trialled in the 2022 dry season.

The 2022 dry season results delivered poor yield as a result of:

  • an August rather than July planting due to wet weather
  • extended dry weather and lack of irrigation during crop maturity.

Weather in the Wet Tropics can significantly impact grain production.

The results from this were:

  • Soybean—1 tonne per hectare
  • Mungbean—0.5 tonne per hectare
  • Azuki bean—not harvested

These were small scale plot trials and results may not reflect the yields of paddocks harvested with a conventional harvester.

Site 2 details

A 6 hectare soybean trial (Hayman) was planted at Cooya Beach in February 2023.

This trial was unsuccessful due to extended wet weather and inundation. However, the trial gave us a better understanding of growing these crops in low lying areas.

Trial insights

These trials have increased knowledge on the opportunities and challenges in growing, harvesting and marketing alternate grain crops in Mossman.

While the yields from the trials are less than desired, growers have learned valuable insights into the practicalities of growing these crops. This includes information around:

  • suitable planting rates to accommodate the extended wet season in the Mossman area
  • paddock setup and planning in low lying and wet areas, particularly around drainage and seed bed preparation
  • control of pests and diseases that can become issues in extended wet weather
  • nutrition and soil ameliorants required for tropical wet seasons.

More information

Read the GRDC’s GrowNotes Northern region for technical information on growing crops in North Queensland.

Get involved

If you are interested in trialling an alternative crop and you are a sugarcane grower in the Mossman region please contact Jack Robertson on 0447 108 017.