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SARDI Australian Lucerne Breeding Trial Locations - over 60 sites nationally

In collaboration with our research partners, SARDI has a wide network of trial sites to evaluate lucerne germplasm. The sites are used to select breeder’s lines that form future varieties, and compare the performance of these lines against existing varieties. A SARDI variety must perform well in all of the major lucerne growing districts before it is released, giving farmers confidence in the variety when they buy the seed. 

The trial sites are located in farmers paddocks, they are not fenced off, so they receive the same management as the farmer gives his paddock. This is to make sure we are testing our lines in the ‘real world’. We visit the sites regularly to score the performance of the entries. When the sites are getting old (and the farmer is ready to re-sow the paddock), we come and dig the best plants from the best plots to plant in our seed nursery and incorporate into our next varieties. We have ‘champion’ parent plants from all over Australia in each of our varieties. This is vital for releasing a variety with a broad range of adaptation to Australia’s harsh climate and our specific management practices. Adaptation to the Australian environment is important when considering the broad range of uses for lucerne; from dairy farms under irrigation in Victoria to dryland grazing in Western Australia or mixed farming and hay production in NSW, we have to cover every possibility in the development of each variety. A few of the sites are shown in the photos below.

The other use for these trial sites is to collect disease and insect pests that attack lucerne, so that we can culture them back at SARDI and use them in our glasshouse screening for insect and disease resistance. For example, aphids collected in NSW are multiplied in our laboratory and used to test the levels of resistance to this insect pest that occurs in our lines. This way we make sure that we use the right biotype to develop resistance, if the aphid changes in the field then we will automatically pick it up in our breeding.

Western Australia New South Wales

Wire grid to measure plant density at Katanning, Western Australia

Kathi Davies shown with a wire grid to measure plant density on an acidic sandy soil at Katanning.

 

Inspecting hay production trial near Canowindra, New South Wales

Adrian Dridan from Heritage Seeds inspecting hay production trial at property near Canowindra.

 

South Australia

Eric Kobelt scoring a trial at Kapunda

Eric Kobelt scoring a trial at Kapunda.

A lucerne trial near Kimba on the Eyre Peninsula

A lucerne trial near Kimba on the Eyre Peninsula.

 

Victoria

Sown trial under sheep grazing at Balmoral station

A 1997 sown trial under sheep grazing at Balmoral (photo in 2005).

SARDI Ten paddock during winter after 12 months of drought at Dooki

SARDI Ten paddock during winter after 12 months of drought at Dookie.

Queensland

Trial with high disease pressure on a heavy black soil south of Toowoomba

Trial with high disease pressure on a heavy black soil south of Toowoomba.

Eric Kobelt, Allen Newman (Heritage Seeds) and Alan Humphries inspect the trial at Toowoomba.

Eric Kobelt, Allen Newman (Heritage Seeds) and Alan Humphries inspect the trial at Toowoomba.