Persistence of annual and perennial legumes 12 years after sowing in the Monaro region of New South Wales

Belinda Hackney1, 2, Jo Powells3, Susan Orgill1, 2

1 NSW Department of Primary Industries, PMB, Pine Gully Rd, Wagga Wagga, NSW 2650

2 Graham Centre for Agricultural Innovation, Charles Sturt University and NSW Department of Primary Industries, Pugsley Place, Wagga Wagga, NSW, 2650

3South East Local Land Services, Cooma, NSW 2630


The productivity of introduced and native-based pastures across the Monaro region of NSW is often constrained by a low legume content. Full pasture renovation is frequently precluded by landscape, soil or economic constraints with producers often spreading legume seed with fertiliser in an attempt to increase the legume content of pastures. Four methods of legume introduction into an existing pastures (surface broadcasting and direct drilling with and without a pre-sowing glyphosate knockdown) at two landscape positions (north and south facing aspect) for four legume species, subterranean clover (Trifolium subterraneum), Caucasian clover (T. ambiguum), Talish clover  (T. tumens) and lucerne (Medicago sativa), were investigated. Direct drilling after a glyphosate knockdown was the most successful method of introduction with subterranean clover achieving the highest seedling density. However, after 12 years, few legumes could be found on the north-facing aspect and subterranean clover had not survived on the south facing aspect. Legumes were found only in the direct drilled-glyphosate knockdown treatment; lucerne having the highest plant density and herbage availability. Where legume treatments had failed, populations of tall speargrass (Austrostipa scabra), a native perennial grass, had returned to their original density. A. scabra density was significantly lower on the south facing aspect in the lucerne and Caucasian clover treatments. There is capacity to introduce legumes into existing pastures but seed-soil contact and reduction in competition from existing pasture species at establishment is crucial to long-term persistence


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.

Photo Credits

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

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