Feedback from farmers, agronomists and researchers identified a need for a reliable legume crop in the SA lower rainfall zones with good early vigour, frost tolerance, improved winter growth, high fodder yields and the ability to produce seed in the majority of years. These traits were used as criteria for evaluating the germplasm previously bred, but not selected for release in Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC) vetch breeding projects.
South Australian Research and Development Institute (a group of Primary Industries and Regions SA): Stuart Nagel, Gregg Kirby and Rade Matic.
Growers in the lower rainfall areas of South Australia lack a consistent and reliable legume option for use in their rotation with options for profit making.
Using germplasm from previous GRDC vetch projects to develop and trial vetch lines with potential to be commercialised for use in low rainfall areas of SA.
The core objectives of the project were to determine:
In the field
Trials were conducted at Karoonda, Loxton, Morchard, Minnipa, Piednippie and Kingsford Farm (Roseworthy) across the three years, testing twenty lines of vetch selected from previous GRDC projects. Observations were made on vigour, disease susceptibility, winter growth and frost tolerance in addition to measuring hay yields.
Trial work was repeated over several years to ensure accuracy. Simultaneous disease screening for these lines was conducted in field trials at Tamworth.
This project clearly illustrated vetch could be a reliable legume option in the lower rainfall areas of South Australia. Line SA 34876 displayed ideal characteristics and the most potential for these areas. It had the best cold/frost tolerance of all lines trialled, with the best early vigour and winter growth, enabling it to put on more bulk earlier in the season, producing fodder earlier to fill the feed gap that often occurs in these systems in August and September. The line also displayed early maturity, with flowering around 90 days, suiting a sharp dry finish to which these areas can be prone.
Value for growers
From this project, line SA 34876 has been identified as an ideal candidate for release as a new vetch variety for lower rainfall cropping areas of South Australia. Preparation is now underway for commercialisation of this line with SAGIT, SARDI and the GRDC negotiating the terms of this process.
SA 34876 provides growers with a shorter season, early maturing vetch variety that has good yield potential for both grain and hay, which is rust resistant and distinct from existing varieties.
As a part of this project, SAGIT’s support for the National Vetch breeding project, communication of the research and potential benefits of the project have been communicated on a regular basis.
A number of field day presentations were conducted, as were media interviews and papers detailing the project and its progress to provide growers and the wider industry with the most up to date information available.