The AgriFutures™ Pasture Seeds Program is growing from strength to strength in 2018; a new Advisory Panel has been appointed and industry collaborations are gaining momentum, with a major lucerne project underway that will support growers’ choice of seed varieties in the future.
Lucerne has been an important pasture species in Australia for over 40 years – the cornerstone of the industry has been innovation through development and release of new varieties.
A recent project collaboration with industry leader and research partner, Lucerne Australia is set to yield promising results by exploring lucerne variety performance.
Independent lucerne variety trial
In Australia, a mix of Australian bred and imported varieties are grown but increasingly, US bred varieties are being introduced under seed multiplication contracts. Due to the nature of seed production it is an expensive and long-term process for individual growers to undertake lucerne variety research independently, hence, the importance of a new trial funded by the AgriFutures™ Pasture Seeds Program.
The lucerne variety trial was proposed by Lucerne Australia in response to member surveys which called for more data on lucerne varieties and their performance under Australian conditions.
Chairman of Lucerne Australia, Bruce Connor, said Australian producers are sometimes reluctant to adopt new varieties and the data from this trial will give them more information on seed yield under Australian conditions and different water levels.
The trial will examine 29 varieties from eight marketers and look at optimising seed and herbage yield under a border check irrigation system. A key focus of the project is assessing how water stress impacts on seed production.
The three-year trial commenced in April in Keith, South Australia, with the site mapped using EM38 technology to assess the soil depth and variations across the trial area, to gain information on where best to place the trial plots.
To date, the trial site has received reasonable rainfall and emergence of seedlings is beginning, so the research is off to an excellent start.
AgriFutures Australia Program Manager, Research and Innovation, Dr Melanie Bradley said the project addresses the Program research objective of improving seed production and will be valuable for informing grower variety choices in the future.
“Industry benefits will be widespread, as growers will have access to herbage and seed yield data that will indicate which varieties perform best under a higher rate of moisture stress,” said Dr Bradley.