Psyllid-resistant Redlands leucaena set for commercial launch

A new leucaena variety specifically developed to tolerate psyllid insects while remaining palatable to cattle will be commercially launched this month in north Queensland, marking a significant milestone for beef production in northern Australian.

The commercial release of Redlands leucaena is the culmination of almost 15 years of research and development by researchers at the University of Queensland, funded by Meat & Livestock Australia (MLA).

Beef producers are invited to join the Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, Meat & Livestock Australia (MLA) and the University of Queensland’s commercialisation company, UniQuest, in celebrating the development and launch of ‘Redlands’ at the Pinnarendi Field Day, Mount Surprise, on 28 May, where commercially grown Redlands seed will be available to producers.

The field day will enable producers to see how Redlands is performing against Wondergraze in current liveweight trials at Pinnarendi, talk with researchers involved in the development of Redlands and hear from MLA on the current suite of leucaena projects.

MLA Managing Director Jason Strong said the launch of Redlands leucaena is a game-changer for beef producers in northern Australia.

“Productive leucaena-based grazing systems have been shown to significantly increase annual live-weight gains and lift carrying capacity for beef enterprises. However, there has been very slow adoption of leucaena in northern Queensland to date and one major reason for this is the reduction in productivity from attacks by psyllid insects which favour northern climates,” Mr Strong said.

“Psyllid attack can cause significant productivity losses and prevent the establishment of leucaena in humid, northern environments.

“The commercial launch of the psyllid-resistant Redlands variety has the potential to open up large areas for leucaena-based beef grazing systems in the north’s high rainfall zones.

“Adoption of leucaena will increase carrying capacities in north and coastal Queensland, reduce age at turn-off, extend feedbase quality further into the dry-season and enable producers to target premium slaughter markets.

“It will also lift the potential for better rangeland management by reducing stocking rate pressure on native pasture systems and contribute to targets for a carbon neutral beef industry by 2030 through reduced methane emissions per unit of live weight production.

“Research conducted via the National Livestock Methane Project, managed by MLA, from 2010-15 demonstrated potential for leucaena to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by up to 20%.”

Mr Strong said many beef producers had already been instrumental in demonstrating the potential of Redlands in northern Queensland.

“Our Producer Innovation Fast Track program, Redlands for Regions, has involved on-farm activities by producers and The Leucaena Network to showcase and document the establishment and assessment of Redlands in psyllid-susceptible areas,” Mr Strong said.

“Given the premium price of Redlands seed and costs of leucaena establishment, the information from this project will be critical in building producer confidence in planting Redlands in psyllid-prone areas.

“This information, combined with the experience from establishing and managing leucaena at the site, will directly contribute to better industry knowledge of the costs, benefits and opportunities for leucaena production systems in northern Australia.

“This work will be ongoing with MLA and the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries supporting Pinnarendi as a benchmark site generating productivity data for northern producers.

“The commitment from the Department and individual producers who have been involved in on-farm trials provides confidence in Redlands playing a key role in supporting a productive, sustainable and profitable beef industry across northern Australia.

“Of the $7.2 million invested in leucaena research and development across 26 projects to date, using both MLA Donor Company funds and levies, almost 12% has been dedicated to the development and assessment of psyllid-resistance leucaena for northern Australia.”

Producers wanting to attend the Pinnarendi Field Day can register their interest at: https://www.mla.com.au/redlands-launch

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