22 December 2005

UQ will offer comprehensive two-day training courses for graziers in 2006 to sustainably intensify their production systems in an environmentally friendly way.

The University`s Faculty of Natural Resources, Agriculture and Veterinary Science (NRAVS) has developed the course entitled "Leucaena for Profit and Sustainability".

The course has been developed in response to increased demand for information and advice from Queensland graziers interested in planting leucaena, particularly the finer points of how to plant and how to manage the crop.

According to Dr Max Shelton who specialises in plant and animal production within the University’s School of Land and Food Science, leucaena is a productive and versatile forage tree legume.

Dr Shelton said leucaena was often the best and most economical way to improve the protein content of diets of production animals in tropical agriculture.

“The interest in planting leucaena has skyrocketed in Queensland over the past decade as graziers realise its value,” Dr Shelton said.

“Leucaena provides graziers with a way to sustainably intensify their production systems, meeting challenging market demands while also taking into account environmental interests.”

“There are currently 120,000 to 150,000 ha of leucaena pastures in Queensland, and this area is rapidly increasing. Graziers appreciate the high forage quality and profitability, and ease of management, of leucaena systems,” he said.

More than 80 graziers from Goondiwindi, Jandowae, Gayndah and Thangool attended the four courses which were held during October. The farm-based training courses were a mix of information presentations combined with farm walks. The courses were delivered by University of Queensland researchers Dr Max Shelton and Dr Scott Dalzell; grazier expert Mr Peter Larsen; and Leucaena Network Executive Officer Mr Keith McLaughlin.

The Leucaena Network is a grassroots organisation of graziers, seed producers, and research and extension personnel. The Network aims to promote and facilitate the responsible adoption and improvement of leucaena-based pasture systems in northern Australia, by coordinating the dissemination and commercialisation of information generated from research and development activities.

Participants received excellent practical and theoretical information from recognised experts as well as extensive practical notes and complementary leaf nutrient analysis. Course costs were also partly funded by the FarmBis subsidy, meaning that participants only had to pay approximately $400 per participant, half the true cost.

Dr Shelton said that the participants reported a great deal of satisfaction with the information they received. They especially appreciated the mix of theory and practice which they said would help them avoid costly mistakes when establishing leucaena on their own properties.

More courses are being planned for early 2006. Graziers interested in obtaining further information on these courses can contact Dr Scott Dalzell on (07) 3365 1172 or email s.dalzell@uq.edu.au

Media inquiries: Susanne Schick - UQ Gatton Campus (5460 1229, 0409 265 587).

Further information/comment: Contact Dr Max Shelton (3365 2541) or Dr Scott Dalzell (3365 1172).