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Recent development and commercial adoption of legumes for heavy clay soils in Queensland

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Cox, K. G. (2016) Recent development and commercial adoption of legumes for heavy clay soils in Queensland. In: Tropical Forage Legumes: Harnessing the Potential of Desmanthus and Other Genera for Heavy Clay Soils. CABI, Wallingford, 29 pages. ISBN 9781780646282

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Article Link: http://dx.doi.org/10.1079/9781780646282.0254

Publisher URL: https://www.cabdirect.org/cabdirect/abstract/20163250811


In previous chapters of this volume, various authors describe the development of herbaceous legumes for pastures on clay soils in Queensland until about the 1980s. Emphasis is on the collection and evaluation of the genus Desmanthus, given its relatively recent addition to agriculture and considerable potential for providing useful pasture legumes for clay soils, particularly in the seasonally dry areas of northern Australia. Other genera are also discussed, including early assessments of herbaceous legumes that were later developed for clay soils (Clitoria, Macroptilium and Stylosanthes). This chapter provides a summary of the development of herbaceous legumes for clay soils in Queensland from these earlier assessments until present. Beef cattle farming is the principal agricultural enterprise in seasonally dry areas of northern Australia, including large areas of clay soils in Queensland. Sown and naturally occurring grasses provide the key feed resource, and the inclusion of sown legumes can significantly improve live-weight gain and reproductive performance per unit area. Queensland has been the centre of development for legumes for clay soils in tropical and subtropical areas of Australia, mostly through assessing and developing plants held in the Australian Tropical Forages Genetic Resource Collection (ATFGRC) (now a component of the Australia Pastures Genebank (APG)). The systematic appraisal of genetic material for clay soils was a focus of well-resourced government research up to the early to mid-1990s, but declined thereafter as sown pasture research teams were dismantled and funding to maintain the ATFGRC declined. Cultivar development is now conducted by small government, private enterprise and university research teams that collaborate where possible. In recent studies the use of experienced researcher knowledge and old plant evaluation sites has been particularly valuable for identifying potentially useful material. Cultivars for long- and short-term pastures on clay soils have been developed to the level of commercial seed production for Desmanthus (five cultivars from four species with two cultivars (one composite) in current use), Clitoria ternatea (one cultivar), Macroptilium bracteatum (two) and Stylosanthes seabrana (two). Other potential cultivars of these species are currently in various stages of development. Each species has different production niches depending on climate, clay soil type and grazing strategy. Adoption of these cultivars is occurring but has variously been impeded by limited promotion, mismatch of seed supply and demand, and difficulty establishing legumes in pastures of some key grass species. Recent renewed investment by the Australian Beef Industry has seen revived government research into pasture legumes in Queensland and rejuvenation of the APG.

Item Type:Book Section
Business groups:Animal Science
Subjects:Agriculture > Agriculture (General) > Soils. Soil science > Soil and crops. Soil-plant relationships. Soil productivity
Plant culture > Field crops > Forage crops. Feed crops
Animal culture > Rangelands. Range management. Grazing
Live Archive:15 Aug 2016 05:04
Last Modified:07 Jul 2023 01:57

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