Farm Table says:
What is the problem?
The objectives of this project were to 1. Collate and store tropical legume evaluation data and knowledge from past and current legume evaluation; and 2. Review and analyze the information collated to establish the value proposition of renewed pasture legume evaluation and to recommend priority R&D approaches and activities.
What did the research involve?
The first stage of the project involved a workshop that brought together 16 past and present pasture legume researchers (participants listed in Table 1) with the aim of compiling a prioritized list and associated information on the available (published and unpublished) data and information from past and current legume evaluation work. From this workshop, a list of data sources, including grey literature, were prioritized to be collated in a comprehensive database. Requirements and attributes of the database were also recommended using information and characteristics of the existing Q Pastures (which uses dated software and has limited measurement data available) and Genetic Resources Information Network (GRIN) Global database used by many Genetic Resource Centres in Australia and worldwide.
What were the key findings?
There is great potential to further build on pasture legume evaluation work conducted in northern Australia. The database of historical legume evaluation developed here enabled the first cross-site genotype × environment analysis of pasture legume performance in northern Australia. This revealed some species (e.g. Macrotillium lathyroides) and genera (e.g. Desmanthus) which performed well across a range of environments and warrant further investigation. However, this analysis only focussed on analysis at the species level of biomass yield-related traits, and further in-depth analysis of accession performance in species or genera of interest and for a wider range of traits of interest is likely to be valuable.
Highest priorities for further legume development identified were i) legumes that persist in competitive grass pastures in the subtropical semi-arid inland, and sub-humid coastal hinterland, ii) legumes for clay soils in northern tropical regions, iii) legumes for light soils (sandy and duplex) in inland subtropics, and iv) more robust ley legume options. Several species and accessions that have shown promise in past evaluation work and are thought to have attributes which improve on key limitations of commercial varieties but are not yet commercialized were identified in Desmanthus, Stylosanthes, Macroptilium, and Aeschynomene.