Serradellas thrive in sandy loam country

03 Dec, 1999 04:01 AM

SERRADELLAS grown for seed north of Mt Barker appear to extend the growing season well beyond that of sub-clovers in that environment. Barry Ford, Perth, had leased land to grow 11 hectares of Santorini and 9ha of Cadiz serradellas from a mid-June sowing into a sandy loam. About 500mm of rain fell from March to November. "It's not the typical deep sandy soil that the serradellas are usually sown into, but it proves they're very suitable for many of the better quality soils," Mr Ford said, when inspecting the crops in the last week of November. "I estimated a week ago that there's more than 11 tonnes/ha of dry matter on this site and the serradellas were still green and growing." According to Mr Ford, the serradellas keep growing into later months than do other pasture legumes because of their deep rooting systems. In some lighter soils, he claims, their roots go down as far as two metres. This factor, according to Mr Ford, means the serradellas keep growing while there's moisture available at depth. This could prove of use in lowering the watertable where salinity is a problem. "My estimate is these two crops, Santorini and Cadiz, are using water at a rate equivalent to four to six millimetres of rain per day as we go into summer," Mr Ford said. "When you look at the density of them, you've got to wonder about their ability to control weeds in crop rotations using serradellas and there's the bonus from their input of soil nitrogen." It's the third year Mr Ford has grown serradellas. They were highly palatable for livestock and were productive under a wide range of WA environments, he said. pMore information: Erwin Hunter & Co, 9383 4708.


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