Leucaena (Leucaena leucocephala (Lam.) de Wit) has shown potential as a productive forage legume for sub-tropical and tropical Australia. Despite a long history of research in Queensland, adoption of the legume by primary producers has been limited.
This study aimed to quantify the level of adoption in Central and South-east Queensland and to determine reasons for the suspected low level of adoption. A survey of 1208, or 30% of the beef and dairy producers from 14 shires in the statistical divisions of Fitzroy, Wide Bay- and Moreton was conducted. Valid responses were received from 451 producers.
Results showed a low level of adoption in terms of area (59 ha) and growers (29 producers, or 6% of respondents). Adoption was limited by a low level of awareness (only 60% had heard of leucaena), a high failure rate (65% of area originally planted and 24% of planters), and a large proportion of small plantings (50%< 1.2 ha) vulnerable to damage by native fauna. However, data indicated that there would be more than a 10 fold increase in the area planted and that grower numbers would more than double the present level by 1987.
Property characteristics, attitude and experiences an information sources influenced the level of adoption. Adoption was greater for beef than for dairy producers and for producers with positive attitudes to improved pastures. Significant variation between statistical divisions was found (adoption was greatest in the Fitzroy Division) and related to variations in extension efforts.
The major reason, given by producers for not adopting leucaena, was lack of information. Reasons for failures included a number of establishment difficulties. These, in turn, may be partially explained by a low level of acceptance of recommended cultural practices such as scarification and inoculation of seed prior to sowing.
The need for improved transfer of general and technical information to primary producers was indicated. Further agronomic research into leucaena establishment limitations is recommended.