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Project name Serradellas for new environments
Funding bodies CSIRO (Lead Agency) and NSW DPI
Lead researcher Dr Rowan Smith
Contributors Dr Beth Penrose, Gary Martin, Joanna Talbot (TIA), Dr Rebecca Haling, Dr Richard Simpson, Adam Stefanski (CSIRO), Dr Richard Hayes, Carol Harris (NSW DPI)
Serradellas for new environments 1

Serradellas (Ornithopus spp.) are the only viable, near-term alternative annual legume species adapted to the key grazing region of South-East Australia, yet they remain underutilised due to a lack of knowledge and farmer experience in these permanent pasture areas that typically rely on subterranean clover.

After more than 8 years of research ($7.5M investment) into development of P-efficient pastures driven by MLA, there exists a small number of ‘best-bet’ serradella cultivars that could be adopted on-farm almost immediately. Serradellas have several mechanisms to mitigate drought risk compared to subterranean clover including deeper roots, smaller seed size and indeterminate growth habit, as well as lower P fertiliser requirements.

Researchers will partner with farmer groups to deliver an integrated research/adoption program that validates previous research, answers technical questions raised by growers and builds confidence that the serradellas offer the necessary persistence in these new environments where a changing climate threatens existing production systems.

This project will prove that serradellas are a species with widespread utility and production benefits that can be captured when they are used to replace, or augment subterranean clover.

This project will address key gaps in knowledge regarding how to establish and manage serradellas in permanent pasture environments, and appropriate cultivar selection.

‘Best-bet’ cultivars will be tested across four locations:

  • NSW: Northern Tablelands, Southern Tablelands, Monaro
  • TAS: Midlands

These locations represent significant but diverse areas of the permanent pasture zone of SE Australia. Modelling will be used to predict cultivar suitability across wider areas of temperate SE Australia.

Further field experiments in southern NSW will be used to generate guidelines for the establishment and management of serradellas in permanent pastures (e.g. sowing rates, seed scarification treatments to overcome issues with second year regeneration, herbicide options, feed value, P fertiliser management).

The project aims to enable widespread adoption of serradellas across SE Australia.