Final research has commenced to underpin the imminent release of the drought tolerant perennial pasture legume, tedera.
The WA Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development has embarked on a project, funded by Meat and Livestock Australia, to develop an agronomy package to support the pasture’s commercial release expected for the 2019 season.
Department senior research officer Daniel Real said the research would complement a series of grazing trials to evaluate the pasture’s role as a high value autumn-summer sheep feed.
Dr Real said trials had shown tedera to be a useful pasture, particularly in below average rainfall seasons, like 2017.
“A summer-autumn Merino ewe hogget grazing trial stocked at five Dry Sheep Equivalents per hectare at Kojonup has just concluded, which compared the performance of rotational and continuous grazing on tedera with lucerne,” he said.
“The sheep on tedera gained double the weight during February to May compared with lucerne, with the rotational grazing mob achieving a weight gain of 10.2 kilograms/head and the continuously grazed mob gaining 11.3kg/head, while the animals on lucerne gained 5.2kg/head.”
Dr Real said tedera currently growing at Dandaragan and Kojonup was leafy and green, while surrounding pastures were struggling.
“A four hectare plot sown at Dandaragan for seed had 2.7 tonnes per hectare of food on offer on 15 June 2017, before it received rainfall a week later,” he said.
“Tedera will enable livestock producers to reduce the cost of supplementary feeding in seasons like 2017 by using the pasture for either maintenance feeding or to gain weight to target markets.”
The agronomy research will examine different sowing methods, including row spacing, sowing depth and rates, fertiliser responses to phosphorous and potassium, various defoliation options and herbicide applications.
A total of 50 hectares has been sown this season at Dandaragan and Three Springs to bulk up seed for the commercial licensee, Seednet.
It has been almost 10 years since Dr Real first brought back tedera plant material from the Canary Islands, which has been refined through conventional plant breeding into a new variety suited to Western Australian conditions.
Dr Real has been working on developing a tedera species adapted to WA since 2006 as part of a Cooperative Research Centre for Plant Based Management of Dryland Salinity project, which later transferred to the Future Farm Industries CRC.
Landholders can learn more about tedera at the Seednet-DPIRD field day on Wednesday, 19 July 2017 at Bidgerabbie Farm, 1263 Rowes Road, Dandaragan from 2:30pm.