A field day launching a new variety of legume that promises to provide a green feed source for sheep during the hot dry summer months drew a crowd of over 100 people on Wednesday 24 October.
The perennial pasture plant, Lanza tedera, is anticipated to be valued for its drought tolerance, nutritional qualities and nitrogen fixing, and its release has been welcomed by producers from across the Wheatbelt region after 12 years of development and trials.
The launch took place at the Dandaragan farm of Bidgeerabbie, owned by the Brown family, where 22 acres of Lanza tedera, originally from the Canary Islands in Spain, has been grown under contract for Seednet. David Brown, who runs several thousand sheep, has been involved with several trials of the drought-tolerant perennial and has been impressed with it’s performance.
“There is a definite place for it to provide a bridge in summer feeding, and we’ve been very interested in its progress in that respect. It would give a valuable alternative to driving around with a feed cart,” he said.
Research has shown that sheep on tedera continue to gain weight during summer and autumn, under either continuous or rotational grazing scenarios, improving flock productivity and profitability.
Meat and Livestock Australia (MLA), the Western Australia Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development, the Future Farm Industries CRC, and AgriFutures Australia have collaborated to develop the new variety, which has now been licensed to Landmark’s seed business Seednet for a planned commercial release in 2019 under the Dyna-Gro Seed label.
Agriculture and Food Minister Alannah MacTiernan attended the launch day, and was impressed by the potential of the crop to provide WA sheep producers with a highly nutritious fodder that performs well in dry seasons.
“I commend the department’s Dr Daniel Real, who led the research over many years, and his team and partners for their tenacity and dedication in bringing this brilliant addition to WA’s farming system to fruition,” she said.
Upon officially launching the new variety, Ms MacTiernan was presented with a bunch of tedera, which has an attractive purple and white flower, by John Brown, patriarch of the Brown family who are fourth generation farmers in Dandaragan. Mr Brown also took the opportunity to share a copy of a book about the history of the Brown family which has just been published to celebrate the family’s 100-year farming heritage at the property.
Industry representatives and farmers from all over the state joined the day enjoying an field walk, lunch and detailed presentations about use of the plant in practice.