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Capitalising on the discovery of Messina for the pasture seeds Industry
Summary Messina (Melilotus siculus) is an exciting new annual pasture legume, not only to Australian agriculture but worldwide. It is a significant outcome from the Future Farm Industries CRC (Future Farm 2014, Issue 16, p 47) and was identified due to its unprecedented tolerance of both waterlogging and salinity. In tandem with the development of an elite rhizobial strain to match the selected accession, it is expected that seed and rhizobia will be commercially available as a package in 2016.
However with the cessation of the FFI CRC, there are still major gaps in our understanding of this new plant and vital work regarding its agronomy is required. This includes (but is not limited to) a basic knowledge of its herbicide tolerance (required by both seedgrowers and farmers); the limits of plant and rhizobia adaptation (eg pH); fertilizer response; establishment/compatibility with salt tolerant grasses (eg puccinellia); nutritive value and grazing management.
We propose to conduct:
1. Testing for tolerance of Messina to herbicides registered for pasture legumes (field based).
2. Testing of the plant/rhizobium symbiosis under low pH conditions (glasshouse based)
3. Seed treatments to improve establishment (eg fungicides, pesticides, rhizobial formulations).
Program Pasture Seeds
Research organisation Minister for Agriculture, Food and Fisheries acting through South Australian Research and Development Institute
Objective summary The proposed Messina research addresses Objectives 1 and 3 of the RIRDC pasture seeds RD&E priorities 20132018; “Focus on growth of domestic and export pasture seeds markets” and “Production and processing efficiency and improved sustainability”.

The RIRDC Pasture Seeds Program Five Year Plan 201318 has identified a significant decline in leviable pasture legume certified seed production from 12,800 to 5,200 tonnes/annum (p. 28, Fig. 5).

The advent of new pasture cultivars such as Messina that can provide stepchange attributes provide the industry with an excellent opportunity to consolidate seed sales and improve growth in the domestic and export market. The recent return in confidence and upswing in profitability for most livestock industries provides an ideal opportunity to capitalise on this opportunity.

The CRC FFI technical information document for Messina anticipates an initial domestic market of 100 tonnes/annum and we believe given the target area for this plant of 5.7 million hectares affected by dryland salinity (Future Farm 2011, Issue 7, p 16), there are excellent prospects for this to increase several fold.

Hence the major objective of our research is to better understand the agronomy and management of Messina thus facilitating its greater adoption by the farming community and pasture seeds industry.
Outcomes:
Increased demand for Messina seed resulting from farmers having the information and confidence to adopt this transformational pasture legume, supported by reliable agronomic packages.
Increased adoption through a better understanding of Messina’s pH tolerance and adaptation.
Project Stage Current
Project start date Monday, June 15, 2015
Project completion date Wednesday, May 30, 2018
Journal articles from project Not Available
National priority Frontier technologies for building and transforming Australian industries
Rural priority Advanced Technology
RIRDC goal PSE-Production and processing efficiency and improved sustainability
Principal researcher Ross Ballard
Research manager Michael Beer
Admin contact Adrienne Twisk