A lifeline has arrived for northern Australia’s cattle farmers, who have endured almost a decade of drought, in the form of a new kind of legume.
Paddock trials by research teams of high-protein Progardes® Desmanthus have shown it to be an exceptionally drought-tolerant and persistent legume for semi-arid grazing regions. Among many benefits, the legume helps cattle reach target weights faster, reduces enteric methane in ruminants, extends the length of a pasture season, reduces the need for feed supplementation and improves soil health.
It is adapted to a range of clay soils so it’s more likely the legume will establish itself, even in difficult soils where other legumes have previously failed.
Brisbane-based Agrimix Pastures was awarded $2.83 million in CRC-P funding with its partners (chiefly James Cook University, CSIRO, Meat & Livestock Australia and the Queensland Government’s Department of Agriculture and Fisheries) to commercialise Progardes® Desmanthus as part of a $10 million project.
The team is working with five cattle producers whose combined land covers approximately nine million hectares.
Project manager Nick Kempe says the legume will result in significant economic, environmental and social benefits.
“Trials have shown that Progardes® Desmanthus can achieve about 40kg of extra weight gain per head per year,” he says.
“It also reduces enteric methane emissions and generates soil nitrogen, which increases total forage biomass, including grasses. This keeps pastures healthier for longer and improves paddock productivity.” — Matthew Brace