Lucerne is a deep-rooted herbaceous perennial legume with high levels of summer production and adaptation to a broad range of agro-ecological environments in southern Australia. The ability of lucerne to extend the growing season of winter-based pasture and respond quickly to rainfall after periods of drought makes it one of the most valuable plants in our feed base. However, for all the advantages of lucerne, it remains underutilised. Lucerne is often considered to be a speciality fodder crop, requiring careful management to achieve high levels of production and persistence. This paper investigates the opportunity of whole-farm integration of lucerne; from speciality fodder crop to traditional pasture. The future trends of lucerne production in temperate grazing and intensive dairy systems are discussed in relation to breeding objectives identified to meet these demands. If lucerne is to be used more commonly as a pasture, the plant and systems must adapt. This paper investigates the plant traits and management principles that are important for growing lucerne in mixtures with other plants and improving the integration of lucerne into the whole-farm plan.
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