lucerne flower lucerne flowerlucerne organisation workshoplucerne paddock - with irrigationlucerne crop in paddock

Lucerne Australia

Variety Trial Update - March 2019

The seed plots were harvested on Thursday 21st March, so we will have seed production results soon.




Variety Trial Update - Feb 2019

Great day at the Variety Trial Field Day near Keith – 27th Feb. Almost 60 people attended to see how well the crop looks. After, speakers covered more stats from the trial, water unbundling, the area sown to certified seed this year and the latest satellite technology which can make your farm more profitable. Thanks everyone for coming and a special thanks to all those who contributed to make the afternoon worthwhile.


 Aerial photos showing the difference between the trial bays reflecting the different watering regime.(The palest bay is the driest)




Change in growth from 24th December to 10th January

 If you are interested in the soil moisture levels and weather conditions at the site click on these links:


Flowering looks good and seed set is underway.


Hay Making Workshop draws great interest


Over 40 people attended the “Bale hay in 7 days with stem moisture not dew” workshop at Brecon, just south of Keith on Friday 9th November.
Representatives from Feedworks, Gazeeka, and Palmer Ag along with Scott Campbell, owner of Brecon explained how making hay can be much faster and produce better quality hay using the new system.
Special guest from Indiana, Brad Paulus explained how this system works on his farm where there is constant wet weather and only a few small windows to make hay.






Lucerne Australia Variety Trial

First Herbage cut 30.10.18



LA Variety Trial looking good

Kaylx staff, Rebekah Allen, Jessamy Bennett and Matt Reeves inspected the trial plots on Wednesday 17th Octber with landowner Simon Allen who reports:

Lucerne is looking fresh after recent rainfall and we have rolled the trial on the back of 6mm last Wednesday. All channel work is complete and ready for irrigation at any time once the current moisture levels drop away.



The LA AGM Tuesday 11th September 2018

Thanks to those who attended and a special “Thankyou” to our guest speakers.
Angus Gidley- Baird, Senior Analyst, Animal Protein, RaboResearch Food & Agribusiness gave us a very interesting insight into the world protein markets and how that impacts Australian producers.
Information on the markets is available through our Gold Sponsor’s Rabobank website

Mark Lourey, Feedworks, explained what a tour group to the US recently saw with hay making techniques.  See the video from the tour here-

Guest speaker Angus Gidley-Baird, Rabobankand Sarah Martin (Executive Committee Member, Rabobank)


Guest speaker Mark Lourey - Feedworks and grower member John Fry

Lucerne Australia Bursary Assists Young Tatiara Farmer

Aaron Freeman from Colebatch has recently completed the Rabobank Farm Managers Program course held in the Barossa.

The week long course, designed to strengthen the operational and strategic skills of farm managers,  covered topics such as managing people through leadership, managing  time and increasing efficiencies, economic influences on business, insights into successful farming operations, essentials of financial accounts and budgeting, global trends in agriculture and business and key issues affecting agriculture.

Aaron said,   “The week was full on, but one of the most valuable things was the networking with other farmers and hearing how they manage their businesses. I was particularly pleased to be able to come away with a better understanding of the financial management side of the farm business. That was really good. I also had my eyes opened to succession planning issues and found that very interesting.”

Aaron says that he was highly impressed with the standard of the course and the expertise of the presenters who explained everything really well. “I am already recommending it to others,” he said.

Lucerne Australia (LA) subsidised one-third of the course costs to participate in the week long program. Lucerne Australia Chairman, Bruce Connor, says that the organisation is very pleased to be able to assist the next generation to benefit from such programs and LA will offer the bursaries again next year.

Aaron Freeman receiving his certificate  of completion from Roger Matthews, Rabobank’s Country Banking Regional Manager for South Australia and North West Victoria.


 Info Day Wednesday 27th June

About 40 growers and industry representatives attended the LA grower info session Wednesday 27th June in Keith.
The 3 year lucerne variety trial with a focus on water stress management was launched by LA Executive Committee member, Simon Allen – on whose land the trail is being conducted.
Dr Ainsley Seago gave an update on the seed wasp project.
One conclusion she has drawn so far is that: wetter winter = less wasp damage the following summer.
Steve Clark from the Department of Agriculture Victoria gave an interesting look at the research into grazing management which concluded:
No reason to use complicated management systems based on phenology triggers,  no need to rest Lucerne in autumn and a simple 6-week rest between defoliations delivers a productive and persistent stand. For more info:



Media Release

22th June 2018

Lucerne Australia- Lucerne Variety Trial Assess optimum plant stress levels for seed production- is underway!

Lucerne Australia has been successful in obtaining funding from the AgriFutures Australia Pasture Seeds program for a variety trial - “Assess optimum plant stress levels for seed production”. Funding, sourced from levies paid by seed producers and contributions from the Australian Government, will be invested into the research trial and subsequent dissemination of outcomes through extension activities.

Lucerne Australia is responding to member surveys which, over the last few years, have been consistent in the request for more variety trial data. The aim of the project is to determine which new and existing lucerne varieties will optimise seed and herbage yield under a border check irrigation system with a focus on assessing how water stress impacts on seed production.

There is much data provided by industry, but this trial is designed to be an independent assessment of lucerne varieties and their performance.

The project objectives include:

           Measure herbage yield of 29 lucerne varieties

           Measure seed yield of 29 lucerne varieties

           Compare 29 varieties under modified irrigation management systems, specifically for seed yield data

           Evaluate the effect varying irrigation management will have with gross margin analysis

           Evaluate the effect of controlled water stress on seed yield over a range of seasonal conditions.

Siriver and Aurora will be used as benchmark varieties. This three year, independent trial has just been sown at the site south of Keith SA.

Chairman of Lucerne Australia, Bruce Connor, said Australian producers are sometimes reluctant to adopt new varieties and the data from this trial will give them more information on seed yield under Australian conditions and different water stress levels.

AgriFutures Australia Program Manager, Research and Innovation, Dr Melanie Bradley said the project addresses the AgriFutures™ Pasture Seeds Program research objective of improving seed production and is a valuable project that will inform grower variety choices in the future.



Pasture Seeds Advisory Board:

Congratulations to the newly appointed Pasture Seeds Advisory Board members announced by AgriFutures on 15th May.
Two members of Lucerne Australia - Joe Cook, grower from Keith and David Brown, grower and agronomist from Padthaway are on the board. Read more here.



A major project is underway to identify and assess the economic value of pollinators inagriculture and to design revegetation areas to support pollinators.
One of the areas in the project here in SA is lucerne seed – Click here for the  series of blogs by one of the key researchers. The full project is outlined below.



                            Push for secure pollination to boost farm productivity

Some of the most important questions and concerns currently facing pollination-dependent industries will be answered in an Australian first, multi-million dollar research project.

The ‘Securing Pollination for More Productive Agriculture: Guidelines for effective pollinator management and stakeholder adoption’ project is supported by funding from the Australian Government Department of Agriculture and Water Resources as part of its Rural R&D for Profit programme.

It will support collaboration between Australia’s most knowledgeable bee and pollination researchers to assess the contribution of pollinators to nine Australian crops (apples pears, lucerne, almonds, canola, melons, blueberries, raspberries, mangoes), investigate re-establishing native vegetation to support pollinator food and nesting resources, and use new technologies to communicate the findings to farmers.

Four sub-projects will be carried out under the project, managed by the Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation (RIRDC), and co-funded and delivered by Australian National University, University of Adelaide, University of New England and University of Sydney.

The agricultural sector will be represented by project partners including Lucerne Australia, Apple and Pear Growers Australia SA, Almond Board of Australia, Australian Melon Association, Australian Mango Industry Association, and Raspberries and Blackberries Australia.

Paul Blackshaw is RIRDC’s Project Manager. He says the outcomes of the four year project will offer multiple benefits to a wide range of sectors.

“From securing productive agricultural environments, to improving vegetation, to future proofing against disease and pests like Varroa and boosting honey bee colonies, this project will help agricultural and horticultural producers to improve yields and rates of pollination,” Mr Blackshaw said.

Initial research work has already begun including experiments to assess pollination deficits in apple orchards and pollinator habitats in the Adelaide Hills, as well as pollination field work with the blueberry and raspberry sectors in New South Wales.

Other partners to the project include Horticulture Innovation Australia, Primary Industries and Resources SA, Department of Environment Water and Natural Resources SA, Trees for Life, Greening Australia, Costa, Native Vegetation Council, Natural Resources Northern and Yorke (SA), SA Australian Apiarist Association, O’Connor NRM, Adelaide and Mount Lofty Ranges NRM Board and TERN Eco-informatics.


Media contact: Megan Woodward 0487 352 859

This project is supported by Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation, though funding from the Australian Government Department of Agriculture and Water Resources as part of its Rural R&D for Profit programme, as well as Horticulture Innovation Australia, Australian National University, University of Adelaide, University of New England, University of Sydney, Adelaide and Mount Lofty Ranges Natural Resources Management Board, Almond Board of Australia, Apple and Pear Growers Association (SA), Australian Mango Industry Association, Australian Melon Association, Costa, Department of Environment Water and Natural Resources SA, Greening Australia, Lucerne Australia, Native Vegetation Council, Natural Resources Northern and Yorke, O’Connor NRM, Primary Industries and Resources SA, Raspberries and Blackberries Australia, South Australian Apiarist Association, Terrestrial Ecosystems Research Network Eco-informatics and Trees For Life.



Bus Tour to Bordertown and Frances 12th September

LA members had a busy, but interesting day out. Our first stop was at Wise Farm Equipment in Bordertown where Grant Wise and the team explained how the Integrated Harrington Seed Destructor (iHSD) works.  It was developed by Ray Harrington of WA who originally developed a machine that was towed behind a header. With help from the University of South Australia's engineering researchers and funds through the GRDC, a model was developed that could be integrated into the chaff stream on harvesters.  An extensive research program conducted by the University of Western Australia concluded that the seed destructor kills 95 per cent of the weed seeds collected in the chaff. The units are being manufactured by the De Bruin Group in Mt Gambier. 
Next stop was Wayne Hawkins - Circle H Farms at Frances. Wayne’s operation won the inaugural JBS Australia’s Great Southern Supplier of the Year in 2015 with a compliance strike rate of 96.5%.  Wayne told the group how he runs 7500 ewes, mainly Dohne, which lamb on the 600 ha of lucerne which is under pivots.
Over lunch, Wayne spoke about succession planning. He related some of his family’s experience with the message that everyone needs to talk about it and be prepared to leave something on the table for the next generation.
At Peter, James and Tara Hawkins property, Brippick, the LA tour heard about the innovation on the broad acre farming operation which now features an intensive piggery operation using eco – shelters, which then supplies the raw material for Tara to make compost for James’ subsoil manuring trial. The compost is integrated into the soil at a depth of 300 – 400mm. The aim of this project is to drive microbial growth, improve clay aggregation and improve soil health.

An added bonus for us all was the visit to Tallegeira and Charlie Koch’s new 8 stand shearing shed and sheep handling complex which can accommodate 3500 sheep under cover. All the sheep producers were envious of the complex which will see 33,000 sheep go through in the coming shearing season.

Our day was completed by a great meal and a few drinks at the Frances Hotel. A big thankyou from LA to everyone who contributed to the day, especially our sponsor -WFI.



Final Fertiliser Report and Info Day

About 40 growers and associate members attended the Info Day at Keith on Wednesday 26th July to hear Dr Belinda Rawnsley from AgXtra present the final findings of the 5 year fertiliser trial.

Melissa Rebbeck, Director of Climate and Agricultural Support  provided a very interesting look at the seasonal weather forecast and what influences our weather in the Upper South East.

Farmers are dying at the rate of one every week, so farm safety should be uppermost in our minds. That was the message from Abigail Hickman from SafeAg Systems. They have developed a farm safety program which is user friendly and designed for farmers by farmers.

5 Year Feriliser Trial Report.

Fifth Year Results - announced on 26th July 2017

Click here to review the fifth year results.

This independent trial commenced in April 2012. The dryland trial was a three year trial, to 2015, with 30 plots triple replicated. The irrigated trial site was conducted over five years and also had 30 plots, triple replicated. The trial was conducted at Brecon Proprietors, near Keith, SA.

The primary outcome is to enable lucerne seed growers to more cost effectively fertilise crops which will potentially lower cost of production and increase margins.
This trial addressed a dire need for up to date information as the only independent, publicly available, Australian data relating to fertiliser use in lucerne seed dated back to the 1960's.  Since that time the lucerne seed industry in all aspects has changed significantly.  The fertilisers used in the trials from the 1960's were generally based around single super and super potash.
As well, most of the data available at the time of the trail commencement was related to lucerne fodder production (not seed) which doesn't necessarily suit the needs of the seed industry. 


Phosphorus and potassium are the most important nutrients for lucerne seed production with other trace elements.  The commonly used Plain Super was shown to provide key essential nutrients required to achieve good seed yield, with low rates of 100 kg/ha more effective than higher rates of 200 kg/ha and 300 kg/ha.  This confirms that more is not necessarily better. Greater profitability can be achieved if existing programs and rates of fertilisers are modified. Standard industry practices may be justified if yield improvements are achieved, but the use of foliar sprays and organic amendments may promote increased yield potential.
Foliar fertilisers showed increased yield in the absence of granular fertilisers applied to the soil. Many of the foliar fertilisers were biologically enhanced, which contributed to soil health and soil structure. Foliar sprays promoted seed production when applied post hay cut and many promoted crop biomass. Foliar fertiliser treatments that influenced crop biomass were predominantly organic based products that were applied in autumn or post hay cut. In comparison, potassium and phosphorus based fertilisers such as sulphate of potash (SOP), muriate of potash (MOP) and plain super showed lower crop biomass. 
Soil and tissue analysis showed variability in nutrients at different times of the season, and were related to the timing of fertiliser application. For example, one application of granular fertiliser early in the season was less effective than foliar sprays in spring and post hay cut in regard to nutrient content and yield.
Soil analysis showed phosphorus levels could be depleted with continued use of fertilisers that do not replenish the soil.  Foliar sprays could improve the uptake of phosphorus, although it may be more beneficial to incorporate these with granular phosphate fertilisers. In the long term, soils would require addition of essential phosphorus and potassium to ensure sustainable production and to maintain soil properties for continued production.
Consideration should also be given to the fertility and sustainability of the soil for future production. Constant removal of essential nutrients from the soil under continuous lucerne production will lead to soil depletion if nutrients are not replenished, ultimately resulting in poorer yields. The use of soil and tissue analysis will assist the determination of use of fertilisers and the right strategy for your property.
Yields were highly dependent on seasonal environmental conditions, but profitability between good and poor years was dependent on the fertiliser program. There were significant differences between fertilisers in a dry season, where yields were below average. In dry conditions, some fertilisers aided plant vigour and crop growth and increased gross margins by at least $1300/ha.
The most economically rewarding treatments in terms of yield output for dollar input was achieved by Lucerne Mix 2 (A++), BioForge + Super Potash 2&1 and Plain Super at 100kg.
For a full report of the trial contact Lucerne Australia.



Seed Wasp Project well underway - Update from Dr Ainsley Seago

(see also stories below)

A grower survey has been composed and has been distributed through Lucerne Australia; this will help direct upcoming fieldwork and ensure that this project accounts for the full diversity of lucerne seed cultivation practices. 


Many growers have already volunteered to participate in sample submission for this project, as well as several seed cleaning operators.


LSW literature review has been completed and is currently being prepared for submission as a peer-reviewed publication. Major findings from the literature review include:


1. Mineral oil sprays are an effective oviposition control measure for the related pest species Bruchophagus felis.

2. Cultivation practices (clipback followed by bulk bee release for rapid pollination) prevent LSW from being a major pest in lucerne seed production regions of the US.


3. Among other seed-parasite chalcidoid wasps, the only effective pesticidal control is via systemic (whole-plant) take-up, not spray application. 

4. For the ecologically similar seed parasitoid wasp Systole coriandri (coriander seed chalcid), 100% mortality can be achieved by storing seeds in paper envelopes over liquid nitrogen for 16-24 hours. This kills all larvae present within the seeds without affecting subsequent seed germination rate. 


Glasshouse space has been reserved at OAI, two technical staff have been identified for work on this glasshouse component, and we are working with incoming graduate students to align their research work with participation in this study. 


Lucerne plants from NSW have been collected and seedlings are currently sprouting.


A PCR test for LSW has been completed, including the identification and testing of appropriate primers for amplifying LSW DNA. 




Investigating exotic virus threats to lucerne seed production – 2016 update


Plant viruses can cause significant economic losses in agriculture and some may pose biosecurity risks to lucerne production and seed exports.

The devastating Alfalfa Dwarf Disease (ADD), which involves a complex of five different aphid-transmitted viruses, was first reported from Argentina in 2010, causing significant yield losses and reduced seed production.

The RIRDC-funded project, ‘Potential exotic virus threats to lucerne seed production in Australia’ is seeking to provide assurance that alfalfa dwarf virus (ADV), a novel rhabdovirus found to be associated with ADD, is not present in Australia and to determine how best it can be prevented from reaching our shores.

Dr Ralf Dietzgen, Associate Professor in the Queensland Alliance for Agriculture and Food Innovation Institute at the University of Queensland is leading the project.

During the first year of research, project scientists developed a sensitive diagnostic test for detection of ADV in extracts of lucerne leaves. Field surveys of several South Australian lucerne seed paddocks using this test during 2015/16 failed to detect ADV. Selected lucerne paddocks used for hay production in Queensland and Victoria were also shown to be free of this exotic virus. Additional surveys are planned for 2016/17.

Alongside this work, the international research team is investigating the biology of ADV and interactions between the associated viruses, insect vectors, potential for seed transmission, and alternative crop and weed hosts. Selected Australian lucerne varieties are also being tested under field conditions in Argentina to identify potentially resistant lines.

“Based on the combined knowledge gathered in Australia and Argentina, we will conduct a detailed risk analysis and develop a biosecurity plan and integrated control measures for alfalfa dwarf disease,” Dr Dietzgen says. “This will place the Australian lucerne industry in an excellent position to protect lucerne from this exotic virus disease and increase certified seed exports to South America.”

The surveys also investigated the presence of the endemic alfalfa mosaic virus (AMV) that was found in most symptomatic plants tested especially in long-established paddocks. More extensive surveys would be required to measure AMV incidence in lucerne seed crops and potential impacts on seed yield and quality.

More information: Dr Ralf Dietzgen, UQ-QAAFI, (07) 3346 6503


The Lucerne Australia AGM was held on the 21st September at the Keith Institute Ruth Wheal Room.

Here is a summary of the presentations by the pre-AGM guest speakers.

Seed Wasp
Dr. Ainsley Seago , Collection Manager, Insects, Agricultural Scientific Collections Unit , New South Wales Department of Primary Industries, Orange Agricultural Institute

Dr Seago is heading up the Seed Wasp Project which has been funded by RIRDC. She is a skilled insect taxonomist and is highly experienced in conducting scientific literature reviews, extracting, amplifying, and analysing insect DNA and working with growers in primary industries.
She gave a very enlightening talk on the project and gave this outline of what will happen.

The project commenced June 2016                                      
Three phases:
1.    Literature review
2.    Develop PCR test for LSW
3.    Glasshouse studies of behavior and life cycle
Field studies: can soil sampling predict LSW numbers
Literature review strategy:
-    All available scientific publications on Bruchophagus roddi (~last 50 years)
-    Closely related and/or ecologically similar wasps
-    biology and control of other insects with similar seed-infesting lifecycles
She went on to explain that the Lucerne Seed Wasp (LSW) is similar in habit to the Citrus gall wasp (CGW) which is controlled by horticultural mineral oil which deters CGW egg-laying. In the southern citrus regions, three sprays of an oil product 10-14 days apart at 0.5% during CGW emergence provided good control.
•    Foliar sprays never, ever work for seed- galling wasps
•    Systemic insecticides work for tree gallers but with a crop like lucerne, you would not want these chemicals used.
- Control of “volunteer” plants is very, very important
- Yellow sticky traps are effective for monitoring
What’s next for this project?
-   Publish academic and lay summaries of lit review
-   Collect more DNA samples across Australian range of LSW
-   Design soil sampling approach to examine correlation(s) between soil “bank” of overwintering wasps and subsequent pops
-   Rubidium chloride labeling : what percentage of LSW are from the “home team” vs. extra-paddock populations?

Pollinator for Profit Project

Professor Andrew Lowe
Deputy Dean – Partnerships and Collaboration
Faculty of Sciences
University of Adelaide

Professor Lowe said that there had been a global decline in the number of pollinators and of native habitat. There has also been a serious threat to the pollinators with colony decline disorder and varroa mite affecting honey bees. The varroa mite has recently been found in New Zealand and the experts expect that with the next 2-5 years it will be in Australia.
The feral honey bee population provides 70% of pollination for crops so a varroa incursion is a major threat.
This project will look at what the native pollinators are – they are not affected varroa if it comes in – and how to revegetate areas to increase the number and efficacy of native pollinators.

The SA part of the project has received the lion’s share of funding because of high value crops like almonds, pears, canola and lucerne being important to the state.

Golden Dodder – Industry Code of Practice
Bill Hender
District Manager, Upper South East at DEWNR, Keith

The project is currently being organised and soon we will be asking from input from growers through case studies conducted by LA EO, Jenny Aitken.
This is collaboration between PIRSA and Biosecurity SA.
This project will develop and implement a national biosecurity code of practice for preventing golden dodder contamination in the Australian lucerne seed industry. Such a code of practice will have two key benefits; it will protect national export markets (through farmers adopting improved detection methods) and it will build the capacity of farmers to conduct on-farm prevention and rapid eradication of golden dodder incursions.
This project seeks to capitalise on gene probe PCR technology developed for the rapid detection of golden dodder contamination of seed lots.

New Seed Wasp Research Project

June 2016
Lucerne Australia (LA) is delighted to announce that we have been successful in obtaining funding for a seed wasp project, which will be funded through Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation (RIRDC) using levies collected by pasture seed industry growers.

Three organisations –CSIRO, SARDI and NSW DPI – were approached to provide a quotation and method for managing seed wasp over a three-year period, with some guidance by LA.

Following a detailed review of the proposals and face-to-face interviews with RIRDC and LA representatives, NSW DPI has been successful through the process.

A total of $89,300 will be invested in this project from May 2016 to January 2019.

1) The Research

The research has three parts:

a) Literature Review
A comprehensive literature review. This will summarise existing knowledge on the biology of seed wasp, as well as other insect pests that are biologically similar. The resulting report will encapsulate the current body of knowledge of seed-feeding wasps and other insects, their natural enemies, and known methods for control. This review will also yield candidate primer sequences for developing a PCR test for presence/absence of seed wasp DNA.

b) Capture data about behaviour, develop PCR test
Capture data about the emergence timing, flexibility thereof, and regional variation in seed wasp populations. Live wasp adults and larvae from lucerne paddocks in NSW and SA will be collected. Some samples will be used as a source of DNA to develop a PCR test for seed wasp. Live seed wasp will be used to establish viable glasshouse/CT populations. These will determine how seed wasp pupation and emergence time respond to changes in temperature and humidity, and whether these patterns are consistent between populations (e.g. in SA vs. NSW wasps). The research will also determine whether non-lucerne weeds e.g. clover/trefoil, can act as reservoir hosts for seed wasp.

c) Soil sampling to predict numbers
In order to develop an approach to predicting seed wasp populations, soil samples will be collected from growers and several methods of quantifying infested seeds will be trialled. These include light microscopy, PCR testing, and a qPCR, which will identify both seed wasp and its hyperparasites simultaneously. The project will also analyse seed wasp dispersal through rubidium chloride labelling. Analyzing population genetic data of seed wasp in SA and NSW will reveal this species’ dispersal patterns on a larger scale.

2) NSW DPI Project Managers

The primary Project Investigator will be Dr Ainsley Seago. She is a skilled insect taxonomist and is highly experienced in conducting scientific literature reviews, extracting, amplifying, and analysing insect DNA and working with growers in primary industries. Co-Project Investigator will be Professor Gurr, who has led numerous pest management projects in Australia and overseas. He is well known internationally for his work on applied insect ecology and developing ecologically based strategies to combat pests.  His chief contribution has been to develop strategies for promoting the activity of natural enemies of pests.

3) Background to the Project

Seed wasp is attracted to flowering lucerne and lays eggs into immature seed in young developing lucerne pods. Therefore, it needs lucerne pods to complete its lifecycle. Financial losses from seed wasp have been accepted over time due to a lack of understanding of the damage it does. But chemicals are not a workable option as its lifecycle is extremely short with continued overlapping generations e.g. all lifecycle stages are present at the same time.

Seed wasp was prevalent in the 1990s in seed growing regions but its presence declined in the 2000’s due to a greater understanding of the importance of sanitary practices, as recommended in RIRDC-funded research done by James De Barro.

However, industry experienced an extreme population of seed wasp in 2012 due to the widespread presence of unmanaged lucerne during the wet summer conditions in the year prior. Acres of lucerne were permitted to set seed and the consequence was a seed wasp population explosion with yield losses in excess of 80 per cent.

Then in 2015, another large population of seed wasp emerged. Losses were high in some regions, but it impacted on the seed processing to an event greater level than in 2012. More seed needed drying to keep it safe. Screens, length separators, chutes and scarifiers blocked up faster than in 2012 and screens needed thorough cleaning. 

Many agronomists in south-east SA now recommend growers lock-up paddocks for seed production earlier in an attempt to minimise damage. Although many growers heed that advice they have concerns that it will come at a yield penalty.

4) Next Steps

LA is proud to have lobbied hard for investment in a seed wasp project over the past 18 months as this has been a major industry issue for many growers in recent years.

We will be approaching industry stakeholders – growers, service providers, agronomists and seed cleaners – in coming months, to participate in a major industry workshop in spring 2016. This will include a major presentation by Dr. Ainsley Seago on biology, control, and history of seed wasp, the outcome of the literature review and the approach for steps two and three of this project. There will also be regular progress reports and a final report extensively delivered to industry in early 2019.

We are confident that this project will deliver outcomes to more effectively manage this pest, and potentially lead to better control, and eventual reduction and even eradication of this pest.

Summary: 2016 Annual Trial Site Field Day

Over 65 grower and associate members attended the 2016 Lucerne Australia trial site field day, which was held in the Keith region of South Australia on Wednesday 10th February.

Members travelled by bus to the “Evaluating alternative fertilisers to maximise lucerne seed yield trial” site at Brecon Proprietors. Here, they received the latest results and participated in a crop walk.

On return to Keith, members received marketing updates from PGG Wrightson Seeds, Heritage Seeds, Seed Genetics International and Naracoorte Seeds about the forthcoming season. Seed Services Australia also provided an update on their certification services.

Attendees also heard from a number of associate member machinery dealers who showcased their products and services, including Kuhn, Bogballe, Sulky and Agrex Kylo spreaders. The event concluded with casual drinks and networking.

2016 Trial Site Day  2016 Trial Site Day2016 Trial Site Day  2016 Trial Site Day

Final Report: RIRDC-funded Drop-tube Irrigated Lucerne Seed, Herbage Yield and Plant Persistence Trial now available

Lucerne Australia received RIRDC funding to undertake a five-year 'Drop-tube irrigated lucerne seed, herbage yield and plant persistence trial' near Keith, South Australia. This evaluation was important to obtain and compare lucerne herbage and seed yield data using the current best practice system of drop tube irrigation.This research is ultimately targeted for uptake by lucerne seed growers, but other beneficiaries include advisors, agronomists and other service providers.

This research evaluation was conducted over a five-year period. Key findings show the performance of lucerne seed varieties under this system between 2010 and 2015. The major funding for this project has been through the RIRDC pasture seeds program with other funding by Lucerne Australia and industry contributions by seed marketers. This trial has recently been completed and we thank everyone who participated. Click here to view the final report.

Sprayer Set-Up Day Summary

Lucerne Australia held a 'Sprayer Morning’ at Bordertown Football Club on Tuesday, 28 October from 8-11am.

It included special guest speaker Bill Gordon from Lawrence in NSW, who has spent over 20 years working in the area of pesticide application technology area, with the last 12 years as a private consultant focusing on training, extension and research. Bill currently works with industry to discuss application technology and to raise awareness of strategies to improve efficacy and reduce spray drift across Australia.

Following the presentation, the group were showcased a range of self-propelled spraying equipment from Case, Hardi, Goldacres and John Deere, courtesy of local machinery dealers O’Connors, Wickham Flower, Farmers Centre and Wise Farm Equipment.

2014 Lucerne Australia Sprayer Set-Up Day  Sprayer Morning at Bordertown Football Club for Lucerne Australia
Bill Gordon discusses Sprayer technology at the LA Sprayer Day  Lucerne Australia Sprayer Day 28/10/2014
Lucerne Australia Sprayer Morning  Lucerne Australia Sprayer Set-Up Day October 28 2014


 Mission Statement

To be a focal point for the industry and to enhance the Australian lucerne seed industry.