Summer sown serradellas deliver nitrogen benefits
Author: Natalie Lee | Date: 12 Nov 2014
Opportunities exist for Western Australian growers to sow hard seeded French serradellas in summer, providing nitrogen for crops and valuable autumn feed for livestock.
Developed by the Department of Agriculture and Food (DAFWA) for their suitability to the State’s acid soils, the self-regenerating, hard seeded serradellas are now being used in a low-cost summer sowing system.
The system involves sowing unprocessed pods from the serradella varieties Margurita and Erica – in a sowing window from January to mid-March - and its benefits include establishing pastures earlier and more cheaply and reliably than traditional annual pasture legumes.
The Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC) funded the research into the novel summer serradella pod sowing technique through the project ‘Putting the Focus on Profitable Break Crops and Pasture Sequences in WA’ (Focus Paddocks).
DAFWA research officer Brad Nutt, who developed the serradellas with fellow DAFWA researcher Angelo Loi, said the ideal rotation for the hard seeded serradellas was pasture-crop-pasture, and research was revealing good pasture regeneration in the third year, post-crop phase.
He said Margurita and Erica were showing potential as key legume inclusions to crop rotations in WA’s medium and high rainfall zones.
“DAFWA trials have shown that these pastures can produce more than 20 kilograms of nitrogen per tonne of dry matter plant biomass during the growing season,” Dr Nutt said.
At a Brookton property last year, a trial of Mace wheat sown after French serradella - with no added nitrogen – yielded 5 tonnes per hectare, had 10 per cent grain protein and returned $1360/ha.
“The grower estimates using serradella is saving his cropping enterprise about $100/ha in nitrogen input and labour costs, while producing the same crop yields as those from the farm’s traditional subclover/lupin legume system – thus driving up profits,” Dr Nutt said.
More information about growing summer legumes can be found in a GRDC video at www.grdc.com.au/GC113V-Serradella (also available via Related Video box on this page) and in the November-December edition of the GRDC magazine Ground Cover. To download or subscribe to Ground Cover go to www.grdc.com.au/groundcover.
Caption: Growers at a spring field day at Colin and Anna Butcher’s Brookton property this year inspect a regenerating stand of Margurita serradella that was harvested for seed in 2012 and cropped in 2013. Photo by DAFWA.
Brad Nutt, DAFWA
08 9368 3333
Natalie Lee, Cox Inall Communications
08 9864 2034, 0427 189 827
Video: There is a video component of this story and the QR code shown here has been provided to accompany the article in printed formats. If you use the QR code please provide the following text with it.
Scan this QR code with your smartphone to view a video of growers Colin and Anna Butcher and DAFWA researcher Angelo Loi discussing growing summer legumes. The video is also available on the GRDC YouTube channel www.YouTube.com/theGRDC.
GRDC Project Code DAW00213