Legume Varieties Surpisingly Drought Tolerant

AUSTRALIA – Australian graziers could have new legume varieties to help get them through drier weather.
calendar icon 29 January 2015
clock icon 2 minute read

A University researcher has been evaluating the performance of hard seeded legume varieties in New South Wales for thirteen years, showing “surprising” results, far better than traditional legumes.

However, the legumes have behaved very differently in NSW to how they did in Western Australia, said Dr Belinda Hackney of Charles Sturt University.

“For example, biserrula is extremely hard-seeded in Western Australian situations” said Dr Hackney. “Producers there will sow it in year one, allow it to set seed and then crop over it in year two, as very little comes up in that second year due to high hard seed levels.

“They might then crop over it for several more years before allowing it to regenerate from seed set in the first year.

“By contrast, in NSW, biserrula (pictured) has always regenerated strongly in the second year.

“We’ve just come out of our first large-scale, on-farm 2:2 pasture-crop rotation, and the biserrula has regenerated beautifully in the fifth year.”

Dr Hackney has led a Meat and Livestock Australia (MLA) project since 2007 looking at how plants behave in different climactic conditions and is now concentrating on lamb grazing land.

This started with prime lamb weight gain tracking and condition scoring.

“In spring, we started tracking liveweight gains and condition scores on prime lambs grazing the legumes,” Belinda said.

“Over summer, we’ll be looking at the feeding value of the dry residue for maintaining ewe condition and whether these legumes can make a substantial difference to the need for supplementary feeding over that period.

“We’ll also be conducting pen feeding trials at CSU in Wagga Wagga, because these legumes have a lot of potential as conserved forages.

“We hope to have our first animal production data by next autumn and we’ll update our information packages as that data becomes available.”

Photo courtesy of MLA

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