Weed control is best initiated 2-3 years prior to sowing lucerne. This can be achieved as simply as cropping paddocks over this time with cereals, annuals or Italian ryegrass. Ranger forage barley, for example, makes an ideal transition into lucerne, as it provides quick feed, aggressive weed competition and will mature in late winter to early spring. Hard grazing or cutting for silage will remove the barley and allow enough time to sow dryland lucerne whilst there is still reliable rainfall remaining in the season. All weeds should be controlled and seed set avoided. Seed set of cereals and ryegrass should also be limited to prevent regeneration when the lucerne is sown. There are a number of chemicals registered for use in controlling weeds in this situation but it would be best to consult your local agronomist to make sure an effective option is implemented.
It is also important to get a current soil test completed in preparation for sowing. This allows you to assess the nutrient status of paddocks and assist with fertiliser decision making. Lucerne will struggle to grow in acidic soils and prefers soils with a pH (CaCl2) of 5.5-8.0. High levels of aluminum (Al) will also restrict root growth and nodulation of lucerne. Applications of lime can increase soil pH and is generally applied at 2.5-4.0 t/ha. This will depend on soil type, quality of lime and current pH status. A soil test will also be able to test for salinity levels and a saline level greater than 8 dS/m is not suitable for lucerne.
Titan 5 lucerne has performed well in trials and is performing well against existing varieties, with similar dormancies, that have been bred specifically for grazing. Pre-commercial release of Titan 5 on farms across Queensland, Victoria, New South Wales and South Australia in 2016 and 2017 has also provided some positive on farm results.
Titan 5 is currently in trials across a range of environments including Ballarat and is included in the independent Pasture Trial Network (PTN) series of trials. You can also find out more about Titan 5 at major industry events including the Australian Fodder Industry Association Conference in Adelaide (29-31 July), Sheepvention Field Days, Hamilton (6-7 August), Lambex in Perth (5-7 August) and at the Elmore Field Days (2-4 October).
Stanley M, Britton R, Christinat R (1994-2002) Success with Lucerne. Top Crop Australia