Cullen (Cullen australasicum) was one of three key genera (Tedera, Cullen and Medicago) initially investigated under the CRC’s Perennial Legume Forages for Mediterranean Climates project. It is an Australian native legume that demonstrated potential as useful perennial pastures in difficult climates and soils in Australia’s wheatbelt areas.
Two aspects of Cullen indicate it could play a role as a tool in adaptation to climate change and mitigation of greenhouse gas emissions – Cullen is drought adapted and it has plant compounds that mitigate methane emissions.
The CRC’s research investigated Cullen germplasm for its diversity in seed production and harvestability. A combination of the best genetics and seed production management practices enabled high commercial seed yields of over 1 t/ha to be harvested from Cullen windrows.
Infection by Anthracnose (Colletotrichum trifolii) and alfalfa mosaic virus (AMV) caused considerable damage in some experimental plots and further work is required to investigate possible cultural or genetic strategies to reduce AMV infection or damage before this species can be considered a viable alternative. Given focussed attention, C.australasicum may emerge as a viable drought tolerant alternative for graziers in semi-arid to medium rainfall environments.
In grazing trials, sheep initially avoided grazing Cullen in preference to lucerne; with obvious signs of utilisation appearing about five weeks after the grazing began. Sheep started to graze Cullen before lucerne was depleted, and Cullen was eventually grazed to a similar height (approximately 20 mm). The trials demonstrated that Cullen has a reasonable level of grazing tolerance.
Cullen is not being pursued as a product in the delivery phase of Future Farm Industries CRC, but the associated Intellectual Property (germplasm and information) will be documented and transitioned to an appropriate partner.
Contact: Steve Hughes (SARDI)
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This site will remain live until 30 June 2017 but is no longer being updated or reviewed.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.