Product Used: L91 Lucerne Highly Winter Active
L91 lucerne is proving to be an excellent rotational option with poppies, for Sam Burrill on a property at Tunbridge, in the midlands of Tasmania.
For some time lucerne has been used as a three to four year break crop, and in the past two seasons L91 has been the preferred option.
Mr Burrill said L91 fitted well into the rotation and was planted to the area immediately after the poppies were harvested in late January or early February.
The area is raked and burnt and lucerne planted at the earliest opportunity.
He said L91 established quickly and was able to be grazed once or twice before the cold winter weather.
The variety germinated in as little as three to four days and continued to provide production throughout the year.
During the colder weather, stocking numbers were reduced to base levels. The sheep began to lamb as the ground temperature warmed up leading into spring.
This coincided with the time L91 was starting to grow and become available as a feed option.
Mr Burrill said there was normally a burst of feed available when it warmed up and then any further grazing options were dependent on rainfall or irrigation.
He said if there was leftover irrigation water following the cropping season it could be used on the lucerne to assist in bringing on the fat lambs through the summer period.
“Lucerne seems like a good fit,” he said. “We get three to four years out of it and run it hard. It’s done its job and fixed some nitrogen.”
The long tap root of lucerne also provides an option to bust through the clay pan and assist the following poppy crop.
After the lucerne has been grazed across multiple years, it is sprayed out at the start of April and the soil prepared for a planting of poppies in August.
Mr Burrill said they would generally look at two years of poppies before rotating to lucerne, although disease issues in recent seasons mean the poppies may only be sown for a single season.
He said lucerne provided an ideal option for a weed and disease break in their cropping rotation.
The L91 has been sown at a rate of 15 kilograms per hectare and looked after early to ensure good crop establishment.
Its high winter activity allowed early grazing options after establishment and quick options in the spring.
L91 is available through Pasture Genetics and is part of the company’s Establishment Guarantee program.
Under the program replacement seed is supplied at half price is the crop fails to establish satisfactorily.
Sam Burrill, of Tunbridge, TAS, uses L91 lucerne in rotation with poppies.