Harvesting subterranean clover seed-current practices, technology and issues

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7 Citations (Scopus)


Subterranean clover (Trifolium subterraneum L.) is Australia's most widely sown annual pasture legume. Its widespread use as a pasture plant requires a well-functioning seed production industry, and Australia is the only significant producer of subterranean clover seed globally. However, the sustainability of this industry is under threat due to its reliance on ageing harvest equipment and the resultant environmental impacts. In order to evaluate seed harvesting practices, technology, and issues, we report on case studies, workshops, and a survey of seed producers across southern Australia. The Horwood Bagshaw Clover Harvester, designed in the 1950s, remains the most popular subterranean clover seed harvester. We discuss its use and modifications, and document several contemporary issues facing the seed production industry. Issues are primarily soil erosion and degradation; the expensive, slow and labour-intensive harvest process; and poor reliability and maintainability of harvesters that are now at least 30 years old. We conclude the root cause of these issues is the suction harvest technology utilised by the Horwood Bagshaw Clover Harvester. Analysis of the current harvest system is provided to support the development of new approaches to harvest subterranean clover seeds.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)223-235
Number of pages13
JournalCrop and Pasture Science
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2021


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