Perennial legumes

Perennial legumes have an important role to play in sustainable agriculture. They can provide fresh feed outside the dominant rainfall season and fix nitrogen. Perennial legumes may be introduced species or native; they may be shrubs, trees or pasture species. The Future Farm Industries CRC has several projects that specifically focus on perennial legumes that better tolerate harsh conditions.

One of these projects focuses on the perennial legume lotus. The Lotus Commercialisation project is selecting for lotus cultivars for commercialisation. These cultivars were developed through the work of the Future Farm Industries CRC’s predecessor the Salinity CRC. Four promising lines present options for areas receiving more than 600 mm average annual rainfall, where soils are too acidic for lucerne and summer drought too harsh for white clover. A fifth line is an Australian sub-shrub suited to areas of low rainfall, and is most likely to be suitable for minesite reclamation and road-side plantings.

Lucerne is a perennial legume of widespread usefulness and benefit to agriculture. The Future Farm Industries CRC’s Acid Tolerant Lucerne project is working on the lucerne rhizobium to enable the plant to be grown in more acidic soils. Overcoming the symbiotic constraints will enable lucerne to be grown in new regions of Australia where it currently cannot be grown due to soil acidity and where limited options exist for growing perennial legumes.

The Future Farm Industries CRC’s Perennial Legume Forages for a Dry Mediterranean Climate project is developing cultivars of perennial legume forage plants compatible with farming systems in the low and medium rainfall Mediterranean regions of southern Australia. Work on the project is focusing on three key genera of perennial legumes – tedera, Cullen and Medicago. Of these, tedera, a highly adaptable perennial legume from the Canary Islands, is most promising.

A range of Cullen species are also among the shrubs being assessed under the Future Farm Industries CRC’s Enrich project. Enrich also includes other perennial legumes, such as Kennedia and Acacia species, as well as non-leguminous shrubs.

Below is a link to a historical document relevant to Perennial Legumes.


Future Farm Industries Cooperative Research Centre (CRC) ceased trading on 30 June 2014.

This website contains information about the CRC’s research into perennial plant based farming systems.

This site will remain live until 30 June 2017 but is no longer being updated or reviewed.

Further information about CRC research projects can be obtained by following links from relevant project pages or by viewing the research transfer page.

The CRC was funded for seven years (2007-2014) under the Australian Government Cooperative Research Centre program.