Winter active alfalfa

  • Winter activity: 6
  • Persistence: 10 years plus
  • Excellent grazing tolerance and persistence
  • Persists under periods of set stocking up to 2 months once established
  • Requires minimal rotational grazing management
  • Exceptional persistence across a range of environments from low to high rainfall, dryland and irrigation
  • Broadly adapted to a variety of farming systems
  • Well suited to mixed swards with perennial grasses such as winter active tall fescue, cocksfoot or phalaris
    Download a copy of the Sardi Grazer Alfalfa factsheet.


    SARDI-Grazer is a new winter active variety developed by SARDI and the Department of Agriculture and Food, Western Australia with funding from the GRDC. The focus of its development was aimed at increasing the persistence of lucerne in mixed grazing/cropping systems where large paddocks limit the use of rotational grazing.  SARDI-Grazer has proved to be the variety of choice across all grazing systems where less than ideal grazing management is practiced and as a very suitable component in a perennial pasture mix.


     Product Fit:

    • Cropping rotations where large paddocks restrict the use of rotational grazing
    • Wool, prime lamb and beef production in medium to high rainfall areas where mob sizes and number of mobs prevent the use of strict rotational grazing
    • Where a long term lucerne stand is required for a permanent pasture with volunteer grasses or mixtures with phalaris, cocksfoot or tall fescue
    • In any system where a simple 2 paddock rotation system is required for managing livestock.


    Grazing Management:

    SARDI-Grazer is a winter active cultivar that has been bred to withstand spells of continuous grazing of up to 2 months. To gain sound establishment the crop should only be lightly grazed in the first year, as per all lucerne varieties. Once established, it can be grazed in a 2 paddock rotation with 6-8 weeks grazing followed by 6-8 weeks recovery. The recovery period is critical for recharging energy reserves of the plant which will maintain excellent levels of production and persistence.

    SARDI-Grazer can also be recommended for any grazing enterprise, as the results from commercial farms in New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia show exceptional persistence under management practises currently used on commercial farms.


    Breeding History:

    One hundred and twenty lucerne varieties and breeding lines, many of which had previously undergone 2 cycles of selection under continuous sheep grazing, were evaluated in a continuous grazing trial at Roseworthy SA. After two years, surviving plants were dug up and replanted next to aphid and disease resistant selections for open pollination. The harvested seed resulted in the formation of 11 breeding lines that were sown along with commercial comparators in two parallel continuous grazing trials: one in Turretfield, SA on a clay loamy soil with gravel on the surface and another in Katanning, WA on an acidic light sandy soil more conducive to physical disturbance from the trampling of sheep.

    Following nearly two years of continuous grazing by sheep the breeding lines were found to maintain substantially higher plant densities than commercial varieties. Individual plants were dug from the best lines at Katanning and Turretfield and further evaluated based on their agronomic performance and yield potential. The final parental plants used to develop SARDI-Grazer were selected based on resistance to aphids and diseases (BGA, SAA, PRR, and Anth), herbage yield, herbage quality (bushiness and fine stems) and winter activity rating.



    This variety has been granted protection under PBR. Unauthorised commercial propagation or any sale, conditioning, export, import or stocking of propagating material of this variety is an infringement under the Plant Breeder’s Rights Act 1994


    A highly productive perennial that will generally out-yield most other pasture species in light-medium soils in dry environments. Alfalfa is an excellent source of nutritious feed that should be a strong consideration where there is opportunity for production.