GRDC - Ground Cover Issue 59 - Plant breeding - Range of new pastures released

By Brendon Cant

A broad range of new pastures, including perennials and annual legumes, were unveiled at the recent GRDC-supported pasture field day at Medina Research Station in WA.

The new pastures, developed by the Department of Agriculture WA (DAWA), have been released for mixed grain and livestock production and for combating salinity.

DAWA researcher Dr Angelo Loi says biserrula is one species with particular potential for WA farming systems: "A new early-season population of biserrula was recently collected on the Canary Islands and selection is currently underway for a new variety," he says. "There is a strong demand in WA for an early-season variety suited to low-rainfall areas and this new variety should meet those demands."

Photo of Dr Angelo Loi[Photo (left) by Brendon Cant: Dr Angelo Loi showcases the new pastures.]

Dr Loi says it has taken more than 10 years to isolate this early variety, highlighting the need for continuing investment into pasture research. He says the new variety would persist and perform better than current options in areas receiving under 300 millimetres annual rainfall.

Merrie Carlshausen, a GRDC Western Panel member and Wubin grower, says low-rainfall growers want a robust pasture legume that will increase pasture phase productivity. There are currently two varieties of biserrula available on the global market - Casbah, a mid-season variety suitable for intensive pasture crop rotations, and MauroA, a latematuring variety with lower hard-seededness, better suited to extended pasture phases.

Dr Loi says the biserrula cultivars are suited to fine-textured acidic and alkaline soils, including sandy loams and clay loams.

GRDC Research Code DAW00032
For more information: Dr Angelo Loi, 08 9368 3907