Outcomes of the search for new perennial and salt tolerant pasture plants for southern Australia

Brian Dear, Kevin Reed, Andrew Craig

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    44 Citations (Scopus)


    The potential adaptation of a range of perennial pasture species to recharge environments in southern Australia is reviewed based on their performance in 20 field nurseries in a nationally coordinated project. Species were also evaluated for their suitability to discharge sites where salt and waterlogging are major restraints. Species are ranked according to their potential to be incorporated into farming systems and the scope for further breeding and selection.Medicago sativa L. (lucerne) was the most persistent of the perennial legumes across a diversity of recharge environments. Lotus corniculatus L. (birdsfoot trefoil) showed the most promise on soils prone to waterlogging. Other legumes that showed potential included Cullen australasicum (Schltdl.) J.W. Grimes (tall verbine) and Lotononis bainesii Baker (lotononis). The herb Chicoriyum intybus L. was superior to M. sativa on more acid soils.Phalaris aquatica L. (phalaris) and summer dormant cultivars of Dactylis glomerata L. (cocksfoot), Festuca arundinacea L. (tall fescue) and Lolium perenne L. (perennial ryegrass) were among the most persistent and productive of the perennial grasses. Further exploitation of temperate perennial grass germplasm with increased summer dormancy should be a priority to increase the role of these grass species in lower rainfall, summer-dry environments. Although difficult to establish, the indigenous grasses Austrodanthonia caespitosa (Gaudich.) H.P. Linder (wallaby grass) andA. richardsonii (Cashmore) H.P. Linder were persistent and showed good recruitment. They should be a priority for low rainfall, low input environments.Other grasses that showed promise were Chloris gayana Kunth (Rhodes grass), Secale montanum Guss. (mountain rye), Microlaena stipoides (Labill.) R. Br. (weeping grass), Ehrhata calcycina Sm. (veldt grass) and Bromus stamineusE. Desv. (grazing brome).For discharge environments, Melilotus siculus (Turra) Vitman ex B.D. Jacks. was one of the most salt tlegumes and should be a priority for further development. Medicago polymorpha L. (burr medic) appears under utilised in discharge environments. Increasing the waterlogging tolerance of this moderately salt tolerant species would further enhance its potential. Trifolium michelianum Savi. (balansa clover) owed its success in discharge areas more to 'salt avoidance' rather than salt tolerance per se. Melilotus sulcatus Desf., T. tomentosum L. and Lotus tenuis Waldst. & Kit. ex Willd. also had traits that may prove advantageous for discharge environments.Within the pasture grasses, Puccinellia ciliata Bor (pucinellia) was superior at sites prone to waterlogging whereasT. ponticum performed better in moderately drained saline sites.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)578-588
    Number of pages11
    JournalAnimal Production Science
    Issue number4
    Publication statusPublished - 2008


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