Product Used: L70 Lucerne Winter Active
L70 lucerne is being used as an undersown option each season on the property of Jeff Foran, at Curban, north of Gilgandra in the central west region of New South Wales.
Mr Foran said lucerne had been undersown to wheat for many seasons on the property and formed an excellent pasture option for their sheep and lamb operation.
It also provided nitrogen benefits for the wheat crops which typically followed the lucerne phase of the paddock rotation.
Wheat is sown at between 35 and 45 kilograms per hectare and the L70 Goldstrike coated seed dropped just before a press wheel, at a rate of approximately 4 kilograms per hectare.
Planting time is normally early May and the lucerne grows through the wheat during the season and is then utilised after the cereal crop has been harvested.
Mr Foran said they had experienced some excellent results from lucerne in the past and on one occasion the legume resembled a green carpet as the heads of the wheat were being harvested.
He said ewes were put into the paddock immediately after harvest to clean up any wheat grain and also give the established lucerne a prune.
“They knock it back and then we wait until the next good rain.”
Sheep and lambs are then able to graze the lucerne at different times throughout the year, with the majority of the paddock lasting at least three years and some providing feed for much longer.
A key is to choose a paddock that is relatively clean and also have good summer weed control for added moisture at sowing.
Wheat and lucerne are the rotational options used on the property with the lucerne normally undersown on the third year of wheat in preparation for the pasture phase.
Mr Foran said he had found lucerne was an excellent option for his paddocks and the cereal crops that followed.
“We’ve grown some fantastic lucerne. If you get the lucerne right it will give you a lot for your country. You are still getting a nitrogen benefit. I think it’s great.”
The last two seasons have been challenging for the lucerne with 2014 being very dry and 2015 inundated with rain in the months that followed sowing.
On both occasions Mr Foran was able to access the Pasture Genetics Establishment Guarantee program that provides replacement seed at half price if the crop doesn’t establish satisfactorily.
During the severe dry and flood conditions some of the lucerne struggled to establish and was claimed under the program.
Jeff Foran, of Curban, NSW, uses L70 lucerne undersown to wheat as a long-term pasture option for their sheep and lamb operation.