Is serradella the right choice?
Serradella can be a handy source of feed for livestock or a nitrogen-rich break crop, and Elders WA central-west agronomist Ben McGillivray says a basic understanding of the legume is essential for success.
Serradella is usually grazed for two to four years, sown as part of a cropping rotation.
Whether you are looking for more livestock feed, a break crop in a cropping rotation, enhanced grass control, nitrogen fixation, or want to diversify and sell seed, serradella is an option worth exploring with your Elders agronomist.
Choosing the right variety for your system is important. Serradella varieties can either be French or yellow and hard seeded or soft seeded. Popular varieties in WA are:
- Soft-seeded French Serradella – Cadiz and Eliza
- Hard-seeded French Serradella – Margurita, Frano and Erica
- Hard-seeded Yellow Serradella – Yelbini, Santorini, Avila and Charano.
Serradella growing tips
To grow serradella successfully, ensure:
- a well-drained sandy soil
- selected areas have had weeds managed prior to sowing, especially broadleaf weeds. Alternatively, a good knockdown will help.
- serradella is inoculated with Group G/S inoculum
- seed is carefully sown at a depth of 1-2 centimetres, rather than just trashed in
- pods are sown at 5-15 kilograms a hectare or seeds at 2-5kg/ha
- phosphorus is available for the plant.
Herbicide options in serradella can be limited, especially if you are trying to control broadleaf weeds.
Weed management strategies prior to seeding such as spray-topping in the previous spring, applying a good knockdown or selecting a paddock coming out of a crop that had effective broadleaf control are an important part of establishing serradella.
Commonly-used chemicals in a serradella stand are Bromoxynil, Broadstrike, Spinnaker, Raptor and Diuron. But there are also chemicals to stay away from, so knowing your paddock history is important.
Phenoxies (such as Ester) are very damaging and so are sulfonylurea (for example, Ally) residuals in the soil. Blanket weed wipers, usually used late in the season, are another tool to help control broadleaf weeds in serradella stands.
A major positive of growing serradella is the ease in which you can control grass weeds, with most grass selective sprays (if they still work!) considered safe.
See the range of crop protection products available at Elders.
Contact your local Elders agronomist to discuss the potential for serradella in your farming operation.