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Lucerne Australia


Variety Trial Update - Year 2 Seed Harvest 17th March 2020


The team from Kalyx recently completed the second seed harvest of the LA Variety Trial near Keith. Stay tuned for results!


(Photo supplied by Kaylx)


Variety Trial Update - Annual Field Day 3rd March 2020


With the Variety Trial moving beyond the seedling stage and into it's second year, the annual Variety Trial Field Day on March 3rd generated great interest. Almost 50 growers and industry representatives, including members of the AgriFutures Pasture Seeds Advisory Panel, took the opportunity to inspect the plots just prior to harvest. Following the trial site vist, attendees had the opportunity to hear short presentations on the trial management this season (Simon Allen and  Scott Hutchings, LA Executive), the latest results from the herbage trial (Nic Amos, Kalyx) and an update on area sown to certified seed production (Nick Koch, Seed Services). Thankyou to our speakers and to all who contributed to making the morning a successful and informative event. 

Don't forget you can access the latest information on the soil moisture and weather at the site by the following these links:



LA Announces New EO


Dear Member,

As you are aware, Executive Officer, Jenny Aitken has stepped down from the role as she and her husband are moving from Keith. Jenny has been in the role since May 2016. I would like to thank Jenny for her efforts as EO and on behalf of the executive committee and members, wish her all the very best in her new venture.

After a rigorous interview process, LA is pleased to announce that the new Executive Officer is Katrina Copping.

Katrina has a Bachelor of Agricultural Science (Honours) degree and conducted her PhD on fetal programming in cattle. She is a partner in a beef and sheep enterprise at Avenue Range.

Recently, Katrina has been the cropping trials coordinator with the Mackillop Farm Management Group and editor of their trial results booklet. Prior to this, she worked with the South Australian Research and Development Institute (SARDI) as a research officer on projects across the beef, wool and pasture industries.

Katrina is active in the community as Chair of SE of SA Australian Stock Horse Branch Committee and Vice- Chair of SA Australian Stock Horse Management Counci and has previously been on the Lucindale Campdraft Committee and Herefords SA.

The LA Executive is pleased to have someone of Katrina’s capability and experience on the team and we are excited for the organisation and the industry going forward.

I urge all members to attend the annual Variety Trial Field Day on March 3rd, at the Keith Football Club to meet Katrina.

Joshua Rasheed- LA Chair


Save the Date - Tuesday 3rd March - Annual Field Day

The trial site is now in full flower, with the watering stress management being applied to the 3 bays. We will have the results of the second year of herbage cuts at the field day and hope to see as many of you there to view the crop on March 3rd. Full details to follow.


Variety Trial Update 18th December

The team from Kalyx out early to beat the heat for another herabge plot cut - they report that it's the best cut yet with some plots getting to 10Kg.

And the seed plots look great too.


Variety Trial Update 8th November


Rebekah Allen and Jessamy Bennet from Kalyx braving the cold, wet and windy conditions today to take another cut from the herbage plots in the LA Variety trial.



2019 AGM

35 Grower members and associates attended the 2019 AGM held at Henry & Rose Cafe in Keith on Tuesday 25th October.

Guest Speakers prior to the AGM were:

Aaron Freeman- Each year, LA Gold sponsor – Rabobank conducts the Rabobank Farm Manager Course. Lucerne Australia has for the past few years provided a bursary to young LA members to attend the course.
Last year, Aaron attended and he gave a summary of what the course meant to him and his business and he urged others to take up this opportunity.

Dr Katya Hogendoorn - senior researcher with expertise in ecology and evolution of bee behaviour and diversity. Katja aims to use her understanding of bee behaviour to improve management decisions for the enhancement of bee health, biodiversity, and crop pollination services. Katya explained what the pollination project has been doing and how farmers will be supplied with lists of plants to enhance the survival of native bee species.

Professor John Hamblin - Adjunct Professor Institute of Agriculture University of Western Australia.
Professor Hamblin asks if the decline in bees for pollination has been examined from the right perspective – how can we get the plants less reliant on insects and bees of pollination by selecting self-pollinating genotypes.  John gave an outline of his work which has produced some lines of self - pollinating lucerne. More to come on this project!


LA Chairman - Joshua Rasheed, Executive Member Rodney Lush and Jo Williams from S&W Seedco.


Bruce Kennewell - Seed Sevices and Justine Drew - PIRSA

Professor John Hamblin and grower member Scott Manser

Dr Katya Hogendoorn - Adelaide UNI, Executive member Guy Cunningham & Scott Groom -Adelaide UNI

First Herbage cut on the seed plots carried out September 26th 

Seed Wasp project covered by the Stock Journal.

Read the story here.

LA Info Session 24th July 2019

Almost 40 members attended the session which released the first year of data from the Variety Trial. Read full report here.

LA executives, Simon Allen and Scott Hutchings gave an overview of the trial and in particular the water management. Nic Amos from Kalyx presented the data for the seed and herbage yields.

Dr Ainsley Seago from NSW DPI outlined her research into Seed Wasp. See her presentation here.


Pasture Seeds Advisory Panel Visit - July 10th 2019

LA executive committee members hosted a visit from the AgriFutures Pasture Seeds Advisory Panel on 10th July. The panel were interested see first hand the progress of the AgriFutures Funded Variety Trial near Keith and toured the PGG Wrightson facility where they learned about the seed cleaning process. LA thanks Greg Excell, site manager at PGG for conducting the tour.




Variety Trial Update :

Another herbage cut taken on June 14th.


Jessamy Bennett and Rebekah Allen From Kalyx.



SAVE THE DATE: July 24th - Info Day - where we will present the full year results from the herbage and seed production. Keith Bowls Club - 8am sharp .

Year 1 Seed production results:Here





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 October 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.






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.




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.




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.



 Mission Statement

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