BRENDON CANT brendon at iinet.net.au
Wed Jul 1 05:22:57 CEST 2009


Wednesday, July 1, 2009


Research conducted by The University of Western Australia (UWA) School of
Plant Biology and Institute of Agriculture has demonstrated that several
herbaceous legumes may be viable alternatives to lucerne under low
phosphorus conditions for West Australian farmers in areas where lucerne
performs poorly.

The research compared the growth of 10 native and exotic herbaceous legumes
to lucerne growing in glasshouses, supplied with different levels of

The study found that four species, Bituminaria bituminosa, Glycine
canescens, Kennedia prostrata, and K. prorepens, grew better than lucerne in
low phosphorus conditions and that two species, B. bituminosa and G.
canescens, used phosphorus applied to soil more efficiently than other
species where low phosphorus was a problem.

Funded by the Australian Research Council (ARC), Department of Agriculture
and Food Western Australia (DAFWA) and Heritage Seeds, the research could
have important implications for WA farmers, according to Research Associate,
Dr Jiayin Pang, School of Plant Biology,UWA.

Other project collaborators include ChemCentre, Facey Group and Mingenew
Irvin Group.

“Developing new perennial pasture legumes that take up or use phosphorus
more efficiently than lucerne is important in the face of dwindling global
phosphorus reserves and the rising cost of fertilisers,” Dr Pang said.

“As well as this, many farmers need a viable alternative to lucerne because
it’s poorly adapted to acidic sandy soils, waterlogging and salinity and
doesn’t do well in hot and dry conditions.”

Dr Pang said many of the legumes tested were native species well adapted to
local environmental conditions, such as low rainfall, acidic soils and low

The research also found that exotic perennial legumes, such as B.
bituminosa, could also fill low phosphorus niches where lucerne production
was poor.

“Although promising, the results of this glasshouse study will need to be
validated with long term field studies,” Dr Pang said.

“That will identify if native perennials will accumulate large amounts of
phosphorus from heavily fertilised, high phosphorus soils.”

Many native legumes regulate phosphorus uptake poorly when soil phosphorus
supply is increased, resulting in phosphorus toxicity.

“It will also determine if native and exotic legumes can use phosphorus
already in the soil more efficiently, thereby reducing the need for
additional fertiliser application,” Dr Pang said.

Large scale use of phosphorus has seen a rapid depletion of global reserves,
which are expected to halve by 2060.

This poses a significant challenge for Australian agriculture with its
phosphorus deficient soils and the heavy use of phosphorus fertiliser.

Australian native and novel exotic perennial legumes, such as those
identified and currently being developed by Future Farm Industries CRC and
UWA, could alleviate this problem.


Authorised by ‘Institute of Agriculture – UWA’ and issued on its behalf by
Brendon Cant & Associates, Tel 08 9384 1122
Dr Jiayin Pang (School of Plant Biology, UWA)  (+61) 8 6488 4546
Professor Kadambot Siddique (UWA IOA Director) (+61) 8 6488 7012/ (+61) 04
11 155 396

Lucerne alternatives.doc/Siddique280609

Brendon Cant & Associates
Public Relations & Marketing
Suite 5
4 Gugeri St
Claremont WA 6010
Tel 08 9384 1122

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