Serradella makes its mark by Tim Evans

Cunderdin farmer Rod Rogers (centre) inspects a field of second-year Santorini serradella toith Brad Nutt (left) and Mike Ewing from the Centre for Legumes in Mediterranean Agriculture.

In WA's central wheatbelt a new pasture legume is providing another option to the wheat and lupin rotation for Cunderdin farmers Stewart and Rod Rogers.

Santorini serradella has been trialed over the past two years by the Rogers and has potential as an alternative to the conventional rotation. The Rogers harvested 10 hectares in 1996 and have sown 120 hectares this year on sandplain soils, where serradellas do well.

The pasture legume is yellow-flowering and offers a high level of hard seed. The hard seed allows for use in cropping rotations without having to be resown in the pasture phase.

But the hard seed also offered a barrier, requiring dehulling before sowing. That was overcome this year when a dehuller was built from a prototype first developed by the NSW Agriculture Department.

"The current wheat and lupins rotation is getting pretty tight and a break using Santorini could be what we are looking for.

"At this stage, because of the hard seed, it looks like it will tolerate a closer cropping rotation and be an alternative to subclover," Mr Rogers said.

"This year we have proved it will set seed and now we have to prove that it will come back after cropping and find a place in our rotation."

Mr Rogers said the next few seasons would be spent trialing serradella in different soil types with different chemicals to build a greater knowledge of its position on the farm.

Santorini was developed by the Centre for Legumes in Mediterranean Agriculture (CLIMA) and released publicly in 1995.

Contact: Mr Rod Rogers 08 9635 1478