For established stands, delay irrigation unil 10-14 days after grazing
If the stand is weedy at establishment it can be grazed/cut when it itis 15-20cm tall and then left to flower a minimum of 50%
Dryland lucerne stands should be sprayed every second year (at least)
Irrigated lucerne stands should be sprayed annually
If you have never grown lucerne before, plant a pure stand of lucerne and learn how to manage it.
After the ideal areas of your farm for lucerne monocultures are established, there may be an option to look at lucerne/grass mixes on more difficult soils or topography. These range from lucerne with some grass to minimise soil erosion on wind prone sites, through to a grass pasture where lucerne is providing the legume component where other legumes (e.g. white clover) have failed. The management of lucerne/grass mixes is more complex and extra caution should be taken.
Research has shown that increasing distribution of feed over longer periods can be achieved by using companion species with different seasonal growth patterns.
Examples of companion species with lucerne include:
There are many positives and negatives associated with sowing a companion species – such as mitigating the potential animal health issues, but conversely reducing quality hay and herbicide control options. Consult your local agronomist on the best species or sowing practices suited to your farming systems.
It is well known that lucerne plants can produce chemical(s) which suppress the germination and growth of lucerne seedlings. This phenomenon is called autotoxicity.
Autotoxicity is difficult to detect and predict, as soil type, rainfall, management, age of the previous stand etc. all play different roles. Older lucerne stands are more prone to it than young stands because of the accumulation of the chemicals - in evolutionary terms the plant is trying to stop its seedlings growing where it already is.
For a thinning older stand, over sow Italian ryegrass (or similar) in autumn to get use out of the accumulated nitrogen and prolong the stand life. Alternatively, drill in a perennial grass and make it a pasture that might last another 3-4 years as your transition paddock.