NT Establishment Trials
The MLA funded Producer Demonstration Site (PDS) 1909 Sustainable Long Term Leucaena Grass Production in Northern Australia commenced in early 2019. The project involves four Douglas Daly NT graziers establishing Leucaena and once fully established, undertaking live weight gain trials to provide knowledge and data of their own properties and for use by the NT grazing industry.
The producers involved are:
Christopher and Amanda Howie – Bindaroo Pastures, Douglas Daly
Logan Reid – Blackbull Station, Douglas Daly
Brett and Suzanne Gill – Malilangwe, Douglas Daly
Tony Hayne – Douglas Station, Douglas Daly
The project is being undertaken in collaboration with the NT Department of Primary Industry and Resource’s (DPIR) Douglas Daly Research Farm.
The first year of the project has seen a high level of activity with three of the four producers establishing their trials.
Chris and Amanda Howie were able to capitalise on the good season in early 2019 to plant their 5ha Redlands irrigated trial on the 29th January 2019. Chris and Amanda experienced a lower emergence than expected so a replant of some areas was undertaken on the 21st February 2019. Early establishment of the site was encouraging however a mite infestation at the site in March 2019 hindered subsequent growth. Application of insecticide addressed this issue however the plants did not gain the full benefit of the expected seasonal growth. In August 2019, the trial paddock was part of the property subjected to a hot fire. 85% of the plantings were affected by the fire of which approximately 40% has shown signs of recovery. There has been a slight improvement in the amount of Leucaena regenerating after the fire. The site is currently being lightly grazed to capitalise on the plentiful pasture and limited Leucaena available. It is anticipated the fire affected regions of the site will be replanted at the commencement of the 2020 wet season.
Logan Reid of ‘Blackbull Station’ commenced site preparation activities in early December 2019, following the first rain of the season, utilising herbicides to remove broadleaf weeds across the entire paddock and grasses within the proposed rows. Planting occurred on the 12th and 13th January 2020 with 10ha each of Cunnigham, Redlands and Wondergraze planted. Germination was encouraging at around 80% with subsequent resilience of 70% of the plantings.
Brett and Suzanne Gill commenced site preparations on ‘Malilangwe’ in March 2019 with the applications of broad leaf weed herbicides across the entire paddock. Banded application of a broad-based herbicide across the planned row spacings was undertaken in late January in anticipation of significant rainfall which was not as forthcoming as expected. Planting was undertaken on the 31st January and 2nd February 2020 into what would be considered ‘dry’ conditions during the NT’s wet season. 10ha each of Cunningham, Wondergraze and Redlands were planted.
Unseasonal weather conditions, including an approximate eight-week delay in the commencement of the NT ‘wet season’ prevented the establishment of the fourth PDS trial site at ‘Douglas Station’. Pending suitable seasonal conditions, it is anticipated that this site will be established by the end of 2020.
Extension activities undertaken to support to producers have included ongoing overview by the DPIR extension personnel, attendance at an ‘Introduction to Leucaena’ workshop and visits to the producers by experienced Leucaena growers and extension officers.
In the initial twelve months of the project there has been a high level of activity involving the four trial producers. These activities have included attendance at the scheduled Introduction to Leucaena workshop and the first PDS Field Day as well as attendance at the NT Field Days where Leucaena was featured. The producers have had ongoing liaison with both the NT Department of Primary Industries and Resources and The Leucaena Network. Activities complementary to this PDS has resulted in several visits to the region by The Leucaena Network and several experienced Queensland Leucaena producers and each of these visits has included a site visit and meeting with available PDS producers which has provided valuable exchange of knowledge and experiences.
The PDS producers have provided valuable input into discussions with the Department of Environment and Resources in the development of a suitable NT Leucaena Code of Practice and will continue to do so until a workable document is finalised.