Track 1-03

Description

Forage legumes are a key feature of temperate grasslands in southern Australia, valued for their ability to increase animal production, improve soil fertility and fix atmospheric nitrogen. Of the 36 temperate annual legume and 11 temperate perennial legume species with registered cultivars introduced or domesticated in Australia over the last 100 years, a third have made a major contribution to agriculture, a third have modest use and a third have failed to make any commercial impact. Highly successful species include subterranean clover, barrel medic, white clover, lucerne, French serradella and balansa clover. Species were assessed on the scale of their application, ease of seed production and specific requirements for agronomic management to determine critical factors for maximising commercial success. Of fundamental importance is the need to understand the farming systems context for legume technologies, particularly as it relates to potential scale of application and impact on farm profitability. Other factors included a requirement for parallel investment in rhizobiology, implementing an adequate ‘duty of care’ problem-solving framework for each new plant product and the need to construct a commercialisation model that optimises the trade-off between rapid adoption by farmers and profitability of the seed industry. Our experience to date indicates that seed industry engagement is highest when they have exclusive rights to a cultivar, can exercise some control over seed production and can market seed for a premium price without having to carry over significant seed quantities from one season to the next. A capability for non-specialist seed production on-farm (with lower associated seed costs) is a disincentive for the seed industry, but may be an appropriate commercialisation model for some public cultivars.

Share

COinS
 

Commercialisation and Impacts of Pasture Legumes in Southern Australia–Lessons Learnt

Forage legumes are a key feature of temperate grasslands in southern Australia, valued for their ability to increase animal production, improve soil fertility and fix atmospheric nitrogen. Of the 36 temperate annual legume and 11 temperate perennial legume species with registered cultivars introduced or domesticated in Australia over the last 100 years, a third have made a major contribution to agriculture, a third have modest use and a third have failed to make any commercial impact. Highly successful species include subterranean clover, barrel medic, white clover, lucerne, French serradella and balansa clover. Species were assessed on the scale of their application, ease of seed production and specific requirements for agronomic management to determine critical factors for maximising commercial success. Of fundamental importance is the need to understand the farming systems context for legume technologies, particularly as it relates to potential scale of application and impact on farm profitability. Other factors included a requirement for parallel investment in rhizobiology, implementing an adequate ‘duty of care’ problem-solving framework for each new plant product and the need to construct a commercialisation model that optimises the trade-off between rapid adoption by farmers and profitability of the seed industry. Our experience to date indicates that seed industry engagement is highest when they have exclusive rights to a cultivar, can exercise some control over seed production and can market seed for a premium price without having to carry over significant seed quantities from one season to the next. A capability for non-specialist seed production on-farm (with lower associated seed costs) is a disincentive for the seed industry, but may be an appropriate commercialisation model for some public cultivars.