Economic Evaluation Of Phase Farming With Lucerne On The Esperance Sandplain

This study examines the profitability of phase farming with lucerne for a farming system on the South Coast of Western Australia. Consistent with previous studies, lucerne appears promising within niches in the farming system. However, further improvements in the production and / or utilisation of lucerne are likely to be required before widespread adoption is financially attractive.

Several important conclusions emerge from this study:

• The profitability of lucerne is primarily due to savings on supplementary feed costs over summer and autumn. While lucerne does provide benefits to following crops, the net impact of lucerne on the profitability of a farmer’s cropping programme is likely to be negligible.
• The profitability and optimal area of lucerne is likely to be significantly higher on farms where prime lamb production occurs. This will especially be the case where lambs are sold as carryover stock in mid-late summer.
• The economic value of lucerne diminishes as a larger area is established. The implication of this is that just because some lucerne is good, more may not necessarily be better.
• Lucerne appears able to provide some reduction in recharge without a loss in profit. However, for the farming district examined in this study, the dominance of high recharge soil groups creates particular challenges. Significant improvements in lucerne production and / or utilisation will be required before it will compete with current land uses on some of the major soil groups.

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Author(s): O'Connell, Michael


Organizations(s): Department of Agriculture Western Australia