Leucaena learnings

26 May 2016

Attendees at a recent leucaena conference and field day saw first-hand how the new ‘Redlands’ variety, bred by the University of Queensland (UQ) with MLA funding, is performing and what it takes to successfully establish leucaena in north Queensland.

The events were held by The Leucaena Network in Atherton, Queensland in May, with the support of MLA and the Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries (QDAF).  Here's a wrap up of the events:

Conference

The focus of the conference was integrating leucaena into the grazing management systems of the north.

The discussion focused on the local research trials, including establishing leucaena amongst standing timber and the palatability trial (both on Whitewater Station).

The palatability trial is being conducted by the University of Queensland with the support of MLA, QDAF and Whitewater Station management, where ‘Redlands’ is being compared with ‘Cunningham’ and ‘Wondergraze’. The superiority in psyllid resistance of ‘Redlands’ over ‘Cunningham’ and ‘Wondergraze’ was clearly visible. Both trials are showing significant opportunities for future pasture improvement.

Pasture and legume management along with grazing options were also discussed as they are significant considerations for producers, who seek to improve pasture protein levels and improve animal productivity.

UQ wrapped up the conference by reporting on their latest research; the palatability trial, leucaena row spacing, soil moisture management and the most recent findings on managing leucaena toxicity.

Leucaena Producer Demonstration Site update

Mt Surprise producers are hosting an MLA-funded PDS that is investigating and evaluating leucaena plantings under established timber on Whitewater Station.

To date, the learnings suggest that careful planning and timeliness will deliver success to those producers who are unable to clear country for extensive leucaena plantings. Challenges to overcome include planting equipment, soil and rock management, seedbed preparation and chemically controlling weeds (typically existing grass). However, none of these are insurmountable.

Establishment tips

Key points to consider for successful leucaena establishment in the forestry country are:

  • Patience and attention to detail will provide the desired results. 
  • Plan, prepare a friable seedbed, conduct a soil test and ensure good soil moisture prior to planting. Aim to control weeds in a five metre wide strip (in wet areas consider a raised bed or raised row configuration). 
  • Manage weeds vigorously by any means possible in the intervening fallow period before planting. Cultivation will be more expensive than using herbicides, but critical in hard-setting soils.  
  • Ideally, procure or hire a parallelogram tyne planter for precision seed placement with a fertiliser box. 
  • Plant leucaena in double rows if possible, at around 2kg/ha of scarified and correctly inoculated seed.  
  • Ensure no weed pressure for 3–6 months after planting with either herbicides or careful inter-row cultivation.
  • Lastly, seek advice from The Leucaena Network or your local QDAF officer.  

More information

The Leucaena Network T: 0490 142 408 E: admin@leucaena.net

Want to learn more? The Network will host further training in your area for a minimum of 10 participants and costs are covered.         
 

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