The three and a half year sterile leucaena project is jointly funded by the McGowan Government, Meat and Livestock Australia Donor Company and the University of Queensland.
Although leucaena is currently prohibited from being cultivated on Western Australian Crown land, due to its risk of becoming an environmental weed, it has shown great potential as highly nutritious cattle feed in Queensland and Central America where it originated.
Conventional breeding technology will be used to develop the variety from national and international germplasm acquired from the Australian Pastures Genebank.
The Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development is leading the project in WA, which will include several field trials at controlled irrigated and dryland production sites across the Kimberley and Pilbara.
“Providing northern beef producers with a highly productive, cost-effective fodder that poses no risk to the rangelands environment presents real opportunities for finishing off our cattle here in WA and creating jobs across the north,” WA Agriculture and Food Minister Alannah MacTiernan said.
“This project draws on the scientific capability and experience of the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development’s plant breeding staff and will build on past research with universities and industry.
“The development of a sterile leucaena would have an application far beyond WA – both nationally and internationally – putting our industry back at the forefront of research and development.”