|This Special Issue – Legume Research was the outcome of the inaugural venture of the Australian Grasslands Association – The Australian Legume Symposium held in Melbourne, February 2012. The collective power of the scientific, farming and extension community was invited to participate in this forum to review the past and current research, and development in the legumes sector of the pastures industry. The attendees were also invited to contribute to the discussion on the direction that legume research and development should take in the medium to long term.
The Australian Grasslands Association is a joint initiative of the Grasslands Society of Southern Australia and the Grasslands Society of New South Wales, with a view to increasing the involvement of the societies in the scientific world. This has been designed to ensure the societies are not distracted from their core activities providing para-scientific forums to transfer research and knowledge among the industry to support farm management.
Despite the broad range of well-adapted species and varieties of legumes used in Australia, a series of droughts have multiplied the agents of pasture deterioration (including undergrazing or overgrazing at critical times, low fertility/pH, and soil structure issues such as compaction, weeds, plant diseases and insect pests). This pressure has resulted in the contribution of legumes to animal and cropping businesses being scrutinized.
Given the recent pressures, and the gravity of the contribution of legumes to Australia’s productive capacity, it is important that the industry maintains a focused forum for discussion of specialised themes such as legumes, outside of the more broad agronomy conferences, where participants can share their knowledge and enthusiasm, present and publish their research, and perhaps more importantly to gain feedback from their peers and from end-users of legumes. Such an opportunity will support the maintenance of technical currency and competency in such specialised themes.
At times there is a tension between the need of researchers to publish and their need to complete projects and apply for the next source of funding that, increasingly, is resulting in less science being published. Further, with the limited pools of funding being competitively sought after and the increasing prevalence of commercial priorities, there is little incentive for scientists to openly discuss their research and ideas for future research.
The collaboration between the Australian Grasslands Association and Crop & Pasture Science is an opportunity to publish a regular series of reviews that will enable the pasture industry to promptly recognise the issues it faces and respond to them through either changes in existing research priorities or the creation of new priorities. To do this the Association will continue to harness the collective power of the relevant scientific community in a forum that enables them to contribute directly to the review of the industry, the development of industry wide investment priorities and the setting of the research agenda for use by funding organisations.
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Online edition now available.