Adoption, profitability and future of leucaena feeding systems in Australia
Keynote paper presented at the International Leucaena Conference, 1‒3 November 2018, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia.
Leucaena (Leucaena leucocephala ssp. glabrata) is a highly palatable and productive forage used mainly by beef producers on extensive properties in northern Australia. When sown into native or sown grass pastures, leucaena provides significant production, economic, environmental and social benefits. Adoption of leucaena was slow initially due to a range of technical, agronomic and landscape factors. These have now been largely overcome through extensive research, development, producer experience and other advances, resulting in around 130,000 ha of cultivated leucaena being utilized across northern Australia.
A range of aspects will need to be addressed if the adoption of leucaena is to be accelerated into the future. These include environmental concerns, especially potential weediness, and a range of technological needs, including soil nutritional requirements, grazing and toxicity management, opportunities for companion fodder systems and conservation options. Advances in technology and the ongoing need for a high-quality, profitable and sustainable perennial forage will ensure the continued adoption of leucaena across northern Australia for the foreseeable future.