Introduction to Leucaena
Interest in leucaena as a profitable grazing system was high in the Millmerran region as more than 35 graziers attended an Introduction to Leucaena field day at Bill and Nikki Macqueen’s property ‘Murralah’ on Saturday 10th October 2020.
The field day, organised by The Leucaena Network and kindly hosted by the Macqueen family provided attendees with a comprehensive overview of the strategies for successful leucaena establishment and management as well as the opportunity to hear from Bill and Nikki about their leucaena journey and view Murralah’s plantings across different landscapes and establishment times.
The Macqueen family commenced their leucaena plantings in 2009 and currently have 200 ha fully established with an additional 50 ha planted this year and a planned 150 ha of future plantings.
Whilst the Macqueens are pleased to note the additional weight gains they have achieved by incorporating leucaena into their grazing systems, one of the key reasons for introducing leucaena was for its environmental benefits, particularly the improvements to soil health and structure.
“The opportunity to create a diverse pasture that can fix nitrogen and return it back to the soil as well as increasing soil carbon through increased biomass, was one of our key reasons for planting leucaena”, Billy said.
“We have gone a little outside the recommendations for planting leucaena and have actually had good success in planting some of it in shallower topsoil, sloping and rocky country.
“Leucaena has turned some of our marginal cropping country into productive grazing land, allowing us to put more kilos of beef on per hectare whilst improving the quality of our soil.”
The Leucaena Network’s Vice-President Craig Antonio believes days such as the field day at Murralah are essential to provide interested graziers with the right information about how to grow and manage leucaena.
“A key message that came through on the day from Billy was that anyone considering leucaena needs to ensure they have suitable soil and climate and are prepared to undertake the necessary site preparation, are aware of the planting requirements, provide the plant with sufficient establishment time and continue to manage it throughout the years,” Craig said.
“The Network is providing a unique opportunity for potential leucaena graziers to hear the proven theory about establishment leucaena, coupled with the real-life experiences of graziers like Billy and Nikki who provided a very frank and open assessment of their successes and challenges in establishing their leucaena pastures.”