Capitalising on the discovery of Messina for the pasture seeds Industry

Minister for Primary Industries and Regional Development acting through the South Australian Research and Development Institute

  • Project code: PRJ-009886

  • Project stage: Closed

  • Project start date: Monday, June 15, 2015

  • Project completion date: Wednesday, May 30, 2018

  • National Priority: PSE-Production and processing efficiency and profitability


Messina (Melilotus siculus) is an exciting new annual pasture legume, not only to Australian agriculture but worldwide. It is a significant outcome from the Future Farm Industries CRC (Future Farm 2014, Issue 16, p 47) and was identified due to its unprecedented tolerance of both waterlogging and salinity. In tandem with the development of an elite rhizobial strain to match the selected accession, it is expected that seed and rhizobia will be commercially available as a package in 2016.
However with the cessation of the FFI CRC, there are still major gaps in our understanding of this new plant and vital work regarding its agronomy is required. This includes (but is not limited to) a basic knowledge of its herbicide tolerance (required by both seedgrowers and farmers); the limits of plant and rhizobia adaptation (eg pH); fertilizer response; establishment/compatibility with salt tolerant grasses (eg puccinellia); nutritive value and grazing management.
We propose to conduct:
1. Testing for tolerance of Messina to herbicides registered for pasture legumes (field based).
2. Testing of the plant/rhizobium symbiosis under low pH conditions (glasshouse based)
3. Seed treatments to improve establishment (eg fungicides, pesticides, rhizobial formulations).


Pasture Seeds

Research Organisation

Minister for Primary Industries and Regional Development acting through the South Australian Research and Development Institute

Objective Summary

The proposed Messina research addresses Objectives 1 and 3 of the RIRDC pasture seeds RD&E priorities 2013-2018; “Focus on growth of domestic and export pasture seeds markets” and “Production and processing efficiency and improved sustainability”.

The RIRDC Pasture Seeds Program Five Year Plan 2013-18 has identified a significant decline in leviable pasture legume certified seed production from 12,800 to 5,200 tonnes/annum (p. 28, Fig. 5).

The advent of new pasture cultivars such as Messina that can provide step-change attributes provide the industry with an excellent opportunity to consolidate seed sales and improve growth in the domestic and export market. The recent return in confidence and upswing in profitability for most livestock industries provides an ideal opportunity to capitalise on this opportunity.

The CRC FFI technical information document for Messina anticipates an initial domestic market of 100 tonnes/annum and we believe given the target area for this plant of 5.7 million hectares affected by dryland salinity (Future Farm 2011, Issue 7, p 16), there are excellent prospects for this to increase several fold.

Hence the major objective of our research is to better understand the agronomy and management of Messina thus facilitating its greater adoption by the farming community and pasture seeds industry.
• Increased demand for Messina seed resulting from farmers having the information and confidence to adopt this transformational pasture legume, supported by reliable agronomic packages.
• Increased adoption through a better understanding of Messina’s pH tolerance and adaptation.