The south-west of Western Australia has experienced a declining trend in annual rainfall and gradual warming over the last 30 years. The distribution of rainfall has also changed, with lower autumn rainfall, patchy breaks to the season, and shorter springs. This has important implications for the productivity of legume pastures in the region, which is dominated by annual species, particularly subterranean clover (Trifolium subterraneum L.), annual medics (Medicago spp.), serradella (Ornithopus spp.), and biserrula (Biserrula pelecinus L.). For annual pasture legumes, appropriate patterns of seed softening and germination behaviour, efficiency of phosphorus and potassium uptake, responses to elevated levels of atmospheric CO2, and drought resistance of seedlings and mature plants will assume increasing importance. While these traits can be targeted in pasture breeding programs, it will also be important to exploit farming system opportunities to optimise the annual legume component of the feed base. These opportunities may take the form of incorporating strategic shrub reserves and grazing crops to allow for pasture deferment in autumn–winter. Perennial forages may become more important in this context, as discussed in terms of the development of the perennial legume tedera (Bituminaria bituminosa var. albomarginata C.H. Stirton).
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