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The lucerne crop protection maximising ROI

ADAMA programme puts growers in control

When it comes to return on investment (ROI) over time for a crop, it’s hard to go past lucerne. The deep-rooted perennial legume can deliver up to 20 t DM/ha. Lucerne also provides flexibility: Grazing for sheep, cattle, and deer, and/or multiple cuts of hay or baleage.

With its high feed value, and resistance to drought, lucerne is money in the bank  - if weeds and insect pests are well controlled. That begins with correct paddock selection and flows through every stage of the crop. Failure to manage lucerne well can result in yield losses of 20-40% and shorten the crop’s lifespan.

ADAMA NZ Otago and Southland Commercial Manager Damian MacKenzie says the right support programme is vital. “It’s definitely worth doing it right.” 

ADAMA, one of the world’s leaders in off-patent crop protection, has developed a well-proven, targeted lucerne programme designed to maximise the crop’s longevity, and to increase production. The programme is spear-headed by broad-spectrum herbicide AtranexÒ WG Herbicide, which, combined with fast-acting companion herbicide Flash® Herbicide, is recommended for control of weeds including annual grass weeds, shepherd’s purse, subterranean clover, and storksbill. 

Weeds compromise lucerne establishment, compete for moisture, light and nutrients, and reduce crop quality. In addition, barley grass and storksbill can negatively impact stock health and performance.

Taken up by the leaves and roots, Atranex WG Herbicide gives strong knockdown and residual control of spring-germinating weeds, a bonus when storksbill or shepherd’s purse are starting to get a toehold in a lucerne paddock. 

Flash Herbicide is a non-selective, non-residual, fast-acting contact herbicide and is active on green plant tissue only. Ideal for for lucerne less than 12 months old, which has developed a crown, Flash Herbicide controls many grasses and flat weeds. 

In established lucerne, Flash Herbicide can be tank-mixed with Atranex WG Herbicide. This combination ensures that weeds are burned off, and pre-emergence control is covered off with just one application.

As always, timing is everything. Damian says disciplined management of established lucerne stands - including grazing to the ground, or mowing, then giving the weeds time to freshen before winter spraying - will optimise results. 

“One of the real risks of spraying too late is it could impact new shoots on the crown, which could delay growth and the next cut, or grazing opportunity.”

He recommends applying 2.4 litres/ha of Flash Herbicide and 1 kg/ha Atranex WG Herbicide during winter dormancy on stands older than 12 months. Use a minimum of 250 litres water/ha and apply to healthy, clean weeds.  Ideally, avoid applying to foliage that has frost on it or is wet.  Flash Herbicide is activated by sunlight, so in bright sunny days it starts killing immediately. Being applied during overcast days allows greater uptake and makes the product slower to start working, resulting in a better kill. 

Where weed infestations are particularly bad, a repeat spray maybe required in spring. 

®Flash and Atranex are registered trademarks of an ADAMA Group Company