Pasture legumes in Queensland: a new wave?

Cox, Kendrick, and Gardiner, Christopher (2013) Pasture legumes in Queensland: a new wave? In: Proceedings of the Northern Beef Research Update Conference, pp. 15-20. From: Northern Beef Research Update Conference, 12-15 August 2013, Cairns, Queensland, Australia.

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Abstract

The beef industry has contributed significantly to the Queensland economy for more than 150 years. The productivity of beef enterprises depends primarily on the availability of high-quality feed. The use of sown legumes to supplement sown and natural grasses is a well-accepted method to increase ruminant growth, through increasing feed intake and the uptake of nutrients by grazing livestock. Nitrogen fixation by legumes can also promote growth of companion pasture plants. A considerable investment by (mostly) federal and state government agencies, often co funded by research and development corporations, contributed to the development of pasture legumes prior to the mid-1990s. Comprehensive programs resulted in the importing and evaluation of thousands of potentially useful legumes, some of which were released as cultivars, and the development of a globally significant genetic resources collection. Legumes, including Aeschynomene, Centrosema, Chamaecrista, Desmodium, Leucaena, Macroptilium, Macrotyloma, Neonotonia, Stylosanthes and Vigna and, in later years Arachis, Clitoria and Desmanthus were released. These provided well-adapted, (mostly) perennial pasture legumes for many grazing environments in Queensland. However, reviews completed by researchers in the 1990s emphasised the need to identify well-adapted and productive legumes for certain pasture zones, particularly the brigalow/gidgee, northern bluegrass (clay soils) and Bothriochloa/Aristida communities. Other high priority areas included developing disease-resistant Stylosanthes and insect-resistant Leucaena and legumes to address nitrogen run-down in dry-land cropping soils. The capacity for government agencies to develop new legumes has declined markedly over the last 15 years. New, less resource-intensive methods have been used by governments, universities and seed companies to identify and develop new legumes. These benefit significantly from previous research efforts, and include: development of promising lines identified by (often retired) researchers or from recently developed forage selection tools and selection of plants from old plant evaluation sites. Some breeding and selection is being conducted by universities and seed companies. There remains good collaboration between the public and private sector and there are indications of a revival in sown pasture development in Queensland. The development of a new Desmanthus cultivar for seasonally dry environments in central and northern Queensland is presented as an example of recent approaches to legume development.

Item ID: 28807
Item Type: Conference Item (Non-Refereed Research Paper)
Date Deposited: 03 Sep 2013 23:56
FoR Codes: 07 AGRICULTURAL AND VETERINARY SCIENCES > 0703 Crop and Pasture Production > 070305 Crop and Pasture Improvement (Selection and Breeding) @ 100%
SEO Codes: 83 ANIMAL PRODUCTION AND ANIMAL PRIMARY PRODUCTS > 8304 Pasture, Browse and Fodder Crops > 830406 Sown Pastures (excl. Lucerne) @ 100%
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