Viable crop and/or pasture legumes for alkaline soils in the high rainfall zone

MacKillop Farm Management Group - Felicity Turner, Amanda Pearce

Type: Research Paper
Knowledge level: Advanced

Farm Table says:

Incorporating legumes into cropping and pasture systems on alkaline soils is a challenge - this article provides some interesting insight into why this may be the case.

What is the problem?

To further develop the viable expansion of cropping in the HRZ, more reliable legume options that are supported with specific agronomic packages to enable them to meet market requirements are required.

The concept of viable pasture legumes for the alkaline soils in the HRZ has been previously explored by researchers in the south-east (SE) of South Australia (SA).

What did the research involve?

This report provided a situation analysis of the current on-farm practices with regards to the performance and management of crop and pasture legume species across alkaline soils in the HRZ.

It explored grower perceptions and allowed an improved understanding of the knowledge gaps and impediments to adoption of legumes on alkaline soils, including limiting factors affecting production, and end-uses of legumes in these soils.

A literature review was also conducted of previous research on adapted legume crop and pasture species for the identified alkaline soils in the HRZ of southern Australia, which identified knowledge gaps for future research.

What were the key findings?

The lack of knowledge about the behavior and management of alkaline soils and legume species adapted to these environments continues to affect whole farm profitability.

In the cropping systems, there is a continued reliance on bagged nitrogen for cereal and oilseed grain production, and in mixed farming and grazing systems, there remains a large area that is utilized purely for low-quality grass dominant pasture production due to the perceived soil constraints.

Final Comment

Future research could include:

• Education around alkaline soils

• Evaluation of crop and pasture species

• Research into effects of pH on nodulation; rhizobia persistence and legume performance

Legumes on alkaline soils in the HRZ can maximise whole farm profitability by maximising productivity, achieving market standards, and providing benefits to the subsequent grain crops

2015 - Australia - MacKillop Farm Management Group - Felicity Turner, Amanda Pearce
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