We asked Department of Agriculture and Fisheries research officer, Craig Lemin, about the Redlands leucaena trials in the far north. This is what he had to say:
“Redlands is a psyllid-resistant leucaena arising from a breeding program undertaken by the University of Queensland and supported by Meat and Livestock Australia.
“It has potential to open up large areas for leucaena-based beef grazing systems in northern Australia with a number of different trials completed or underway.
“The first of the trials was a producer demonstration site established at Whitewater Station, near Mount Surprise in 2014. The Whitewater site included a 1 hectare replicated experiment to assess the palatability of new leucaena lines bred specifically for psyllid resistance, relative to traditional varieties Cunningham and Wondergraze.
“The site also includes a 33ha planting of Wondergraze aimed at improving industry understanding of the establishment costs and options of growing leucaena in an open woodland (uncleared) situation.
“The Department of Agriculture and Fisheries has recently established a large-scale grazing trial in north Queensland to evaluate the liveweight gain performance of Redlands relative to the existing commercial Wondergraze variety.
“The Redlands leucaena pasture trial was established with support from MLA in 2017 on a 61 hectare site at Pinnarendi near Mt Garnet.
“Planting at the site occurred during January and February 2017 and was completed using old inoculant which has likely affected the ongoing performance of the plants.
“The first cattle were introduced to the trial in April 2018 at a low and cautionary stocking rate.
“The trials so far have been positive and confirm that Redlands is psyllid resistant. Although psyllids can be found in smalls populations of Redlands, they have not significantly affected productivity.
“Redlands’ liveweight gain performance data is expected to be available in 2019.
“Six producers have been recruited to establish Redlands, including at Quincan Springs and Goshen, with ongoing efforts to establish two additional sites each around Townsville and Mackay.
“DAF is also investigating establishment of leucaena on its Spyglass beef research facility near Charters Towers.
“Commercial interest in leucaena in north Queensland is very strong with an additional 15 beef businesses also looking at leucaena systems.
“In the Mount Garnet and Mount Surprise areas, leucaena can double annual liveweight gains of cattle and increase the carrying capacity of beef enterprises.”