Tropical Grasslands (1991) Volume 25, 98–103

Sustaining productive pastures in the tropics
4. Augmenting native pasture with legumes


1Queensland Department of Primary Industries, Mareeba, Queensland; and
2Northern Territory Department of Primary Industry and Fisheries, Katherine, Northern Territory; Australia.


Native pastures in the Australian tropics and subtropics are augmented with legumes to increase cattle diet quality and quantity. Approximately 50,000 ha are oversown each year and are potentially productive and sustainable. Key features of legume adaptation and animal productivity are discussed, along with a plea for greater emphasis in legume evaluation on the mineral concentrations of plants at contrasting levels of soil fertility. The potential of augmented pastures to add nitrogen to pastoral systems is contrasted with other, extractive practices designed to improve livestock diet, but their limitations as sustainable resources are also outlined. Simplicity of management is suggested as a key requirement in the success of augmented pastures and it is argued that wide adaptation to climate, soil and management are vital ingredients in that simplicity.

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