The Australian Legumes Symposium was the first in a planned series of regular technical symposia organised by the Australian Grasslands Association. The aim was to provide researchers with the opportunity to interact, present up-to-date reviews on topics related to pasture legume science, present results of current research and participate in planning of future research and development relevant to pasture legumes. This paper is intended to be the key output of the forum – a summary of findings and highlights from review and contributed research papers as well as identifying key research priorities for the future. In terms of the former, reviews presented at the symposium provided an overview of the development and role of pasture legumes in temperate farming systems. Closely related topics – nitrogen (N) fixation, N balance of farming systems and management of legume inoculation provided a focus on the importance of legumes in terms of N input and overall productivity. International perspectives on lucerne – its improvement and adoption provided a noticeable contrast to the apparent paucity of research into this species in Australia – despite its widespread use in temperate farming systems. In terms of content, there were many other papers delivered dealing with a wide diversity of relevant issues. On one hand the diversity of work in pasture legume research and development may stem from the wide array of expertise available in Australia and New Zealand, while on the other it might suggest that research and development inputs are being thinly spread over a large number of species.
With respect to determining research priorities, it was surprising that participants were most concerned with how research is funded and conducted and the need to address this by reconsidering current arrangements. A greater role for economic analysis in determining research priorities was foreshadowed. The identification and management of acid-tolerant perennial legumes for higher rainfall zone permanent pastures was nominated as a major research priority, as was the need to address problems related to pre-inoculation of legume seed. The clear message from the symposium was that there needs to be a reorganisation of pasture legume improvement in order for gains to be effectively realised, and to maintain research and development capacity.