Neptune’, the world’s first messina (Melilotus siculus) cultivar: an annual pasture legume for saline soils prone to winter waterlogging

Phillip G.H. Nichols1,2, Ross A. Ballard3, Amanda L. Pearce4, Bradley J. Wintle1,2, Andrew D. Craig5

1School of Agriculture and Environment, University of Western Australia, 35 Stirling Highway, Perth WA 6009,,
2Formerly Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development,
3 Baron-Hay Court, South Perth WA 6151, 3South Australian Research and Development Institute, GPO Box 397, Adelaide SA 5001,
4South Australian Research and Development Institute, Struan Research Centre, PO Box 618, Naracoorte SA 5271,
5Formerly South Australian Research and Development Institute, current address: PO Box 1196, Naracoorte SA 5271


Saline soils are widespread across southern Australia. Such areas tend to be waterlogged in winter with traditional pasture legumes highly sensitive to the combined stresses, resulting in poor pasture productivity. A search for pasture legumes adapted to saline, waterlogged soils, has resulted in release of the annual pasture legume, ‘Neptune’, as the world’s first cultivar of messina (Melilotus siculus). This paper reports on the field performance of Neptune compared with balansa clover (Trifolium michelianum) cv. Frontier, burr medic (Medicago polymorpha) cv. Scimitar, and white melilot (Melilotus albus) cv. Jota over three years at five sites in South Australia and Western Australia. At the three most saline sites, Neptune had a dry matter yield that was 2.5, 4.2 and 57.2 times higher than Frontier, Scimitar and Jota, respectively. A salt-tolerant Rhizobium strain, SRDI554, has been released to facilitate nodulation of regenerating messina in saline soils


The Australian Society of Agronomy is the professional body for agronomists in Australia. It has approximately 500 active members drawn from government, universities, research organisations and the private sector.

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David Marland Photography Graham Centre for Agricultural Innovation, Charles Sturt University

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