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Legumes Hub

In the right environment and production system, incorporating legumes – either as standalone pasture or in mixes – can significantly boost productivity and provide drought resilience and environmental benefits. 

This hub has been created to help build the capacity of producers and advisors to assess and rank limitations to legume growth and then develop management approaches to improve sub-clover content on their properties. It also provides a simple diagnostic approach to assess legume pastures, identify the leading reasons for possible legume decline and what management practices are available to address these limitations.    

This resource hub covers five ways legumes could help your business:

  1. More feed, less fertiliser
  2. Faster weight gains and healthier animals 
  3. A more resilient feedbase 
  4. An ally against dieback 
  5. Towards carbon neutral 2030 (CN30)



More sub-clover

How do I identify sub-clover cultivars? 

How do I use the Pasture Trial Network (PTN) tool?

This video steps though the stages of sub-clover growth and what management is required so we consistently have good clover years. 

This video helps you develop basic skills in sub-clover cultivar identification and narrow down what sub-clover cultivars are growing in your paddocks.  

This video shows how you can use the PTN tool to confidently select pastures cultivars to increase seasonal production and persistence.

Supply-chain partnerships for QA Australian inoculants

Maintaining inoculant efficacy - manufacture to farm

Optimising rhizobia inoculant viability and success with your advisor

Primary producers can be confident that a product purchased in store endorsed with a Green Tick is optimised for success because it has been quality assured via the rigorous, independent testing process of the AIRG.

Rhizobia are vulnerable to harsh conditions that can reduce effective numbers in inoculant products. Ensuring that the products are treated well between manufacture and on-farm application is essential to successful nitrogen fixation.

Nitrogen fixation can be optimised by assessing and controlling limitations in soil conditions.

Optimising effective rhizobia inoculation of pastures

Stylos to boost beef production

Improved quality and productivity in Australia’s variable climate: inoculation of Pasture Legumes.

What sort of benefit can I expect from planting stylos?


Check out the online training packages covering legumes and healthy pastures on the toolbox, MLA’s free eLearning platform. 


Five ways legumes could benefit your business

More feed, less fertiliser

Legumes form a symbiotic relationship with Rhizobium bacteria, which enable plants to fix nitrogen (N) from the atmosphere through their root system and make it available to other pasture species. 

This provides (free!) soil-nitrogen to non-legume plants (grasses and crops), reducing the reliance on applied nitrogen fertiliser and bringing down the associated costs and labour of fertiliser application. Having adequate nitrogen available to plants in the soil is also essential for an optimal response to applied phosphorus (P) and sulphur (S).   

The nitrogen fixed by legumes boosts the performance of pasture grasses to produce higher quality and quantity of dry matter, providing a nutritious source of feed for livestock. For best pasture growth, key nutrients need to be present at the required levels and soil testing can inform fertiliser decisions. Legumes can also help to fill seasonal feed gaps and extend the pasture life. 

Faster weight gains and healthier animals

Legume pastures provide palatable, digestible, high protein feed for livestock. Feed intake of legumes in ruminants can be higher than grasses due to the rapid breakdown of legume material. 

Legumes in the pasture can extend the period of high-quality green feed when feed quality from grasses is in decline or low, giving producers a more reliable and flexible feed for meeting market specifications year-round. 

They can also contain beneficial compounds that reduce bloat risk. Both serradellas and Arrow Leaf Clover contain condensed tannins that reduce the risk of bloat; an important factor when looking at pasture species for bloat resistance is the level of condensed tannins. 

A more resilient feedbase

Incorporation of hard-seeded and woody legumes in pasture commonly reduces production risks and bolsters resilience to climatic conditions and seasonal variations. Some perennial legumes can persist for decades with good management. They also respond quickly following drought-breaking rainfall. This is due to their deeper root systems and capacity to produce sufficient seed for regeneration, even under adverse growing conditions. 

The additional ground cover provided by legumes in these circumstances helps to reduce risks of runoff and erosion, and can be helpful in reducing weed burden.

An ally against dieback

Annual and perennial forage legume species are not affected by dieback, nor are they hosts to mealybug. Incorporating tolerant pasture species such as legumes and tolerant grasses or other forages, should be key practices to consider in addressing dieback. 

Recent trials showed that cultivating, adding moderate rates of nitrogen and phosphorus fertiliser and then re-sowing dieback-affected areas with legumes (e.g. Butterfly Pea, Lablab, Desmanthus) reliably improved plant biomass. Re-sowing with a mix of legume and pasture grass species was also frequently beneficial, in that it increased feed available for cattle. 

Towards carbon neutral 2030 (CN30)

When it comes to carbon, legumes can offer multiple benefits, including carbon capture and storage as well as emissions reductions. 

Legumes help to build soil carbon by improving soil health and promoting root growth. Some of the woody plants help to lock up carbon in stems and root matter. 

They can also contain different levels of useful compounds such as condensed tannins that assist animal production and have potential to reduce livestock methane emissions. Specifically, research has shown in the northern Australian context that Leucaena and Desmanthus look promising in reducing enteric methane production. 

Like any plant, legumes will perform best in the right environment and the right production system. Legumes must be inoculated with the correct strain of Rhizobia bacteria to grow well, and managed for the conditions.