Fact Sheet #30 – February 2008
Roy Latta – Department of Primary Industries, Walpeup, Vic
Threats to Mallee cropping systems are real and ongoing and come in the form of threats to the resource base as well as from economic forces. Farming systems
based on perennials such as lucerne can have a positive impact in offsetting and adapting to these threats.
A survey of Mallee farmers who took part in a 2001 lucerne establishment project was completed in 2006 to establish their perceptions of the role and future of lucerne on their farms.
• They all nominated livestock production and weed control benefits from lucerne as the main drivers, not salinity benefits.
• The average property size was 2000 ha with individual plans to establish between 130 – 500 ha of lucerne.
• All respondents established the lucerne with a cover crop (by different methods) and reported good initial emergence but poor survival over the first summer.
• They blamed climate not competition from the cover crop as the survival constraint.
• In several cases the sites required protection from sand blasting, so some protection for the Lucerne seedling and the soil was essential.