Tropical Grasslands (1991) Volume 25, 129–136

Sustaining productive pastures in the tropics
8. Persistence and productivity of temperate legumes with tropical grasses


Pasture Management Branch, QDPI:
1Toowoomba and
2NSW Agriculture and Fisheries, Grafton, New South Wales; Australia
3Ipswich, Queensland


This paper discusses the distribution, importance, current status and future research needs of three groups of temperate legumes which grow with tropical grasses in eastern Australia. Lucerne (Medicago sativa), is best adapted to more fertile soils in sub-coastal and inland areas. White clover (Trifolium repens), other Trifolium species and Lotus grow mainly in the sub-tropical coastal areas of southern Queensland and northern New South Wales. Annual legumes adapted to drier inland areas include annual medics (Medicago spp.) on slightly acid to alkaline loams and clays, sub clover (T. subterraneum) on moderately acid sandy and loamy soils and serradella (Ornithopus spp.) on moderately to strongly acid sandy soils. The total area where mixed pastures of temperate legumes and tropical grasses are adapted is at least the size of Victoria.
Temperate legumes are invaluable to dairying, beef, sheep and mixed farming (grain and animal production) enterprises and are used to augment native pasture, sown pastures, forage and hay crops and to restore soil fertility for grain forage production.

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