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Lucerne text messaging service passes 500 subscribers

24 October 2013


Lucerne text messaging service passes 500 subscriber milestone

More than 500 people are now subscribed to Beef + Lamb New Zealand’s lucerne text messaging service – getting free real-time updates on how to get the best from this drought-tolerant pasture.

The collaboration between B+LNZ and Lincoln University was initiated early last year. It is facilitated by plant science specialist Professor Derrick Moot.

B+LNZ chief executive, Dr Scott Champion says: “The text messaging service is a way for farmers, whether they’re new or experienced with lucerne, to get tips and tricks delivered straight to them in a way that’s easy to use.”

All public texts are also posted to Twitter, so people can go back any time and look through the library of lucerne information.

Dr Champion says: “From our perspective, using text messages and cataloguing them on social media is a really interesting model for getting specific and timely technical advice out to farmers, in a way that’s right for the needs of farmers and the sheep and beef industry.

“In terms of lucerne as a forage, we know that timing and attention to detail are key to achieving top performance. Short, timely text messages, delivered with the input of a lucerne expert, support this.”

The service is a two-way communication. “Subscribers receive reminders, ideas, suggestions and information on the latest research, as well as observations from other farmers. And they can send in any questions, which will be answered by one of our lucerne experts. It’s like having Professor Moot as your own personal advisor.”

Subscribers are also the first to know about new resources and upcoming lucerne related field-days.

Dr Champion says new opportunities around how lucerne is used, particularly for grazing, continue to be discovered, thanks to B+LNZ-funded research led by Professor Moot.

“Lucerne has a water use efficiency up to three times that of ryegrass-based pasture. There are few opportunities as significant as this for dryland farmers.

“B+LNZ and Lincoln University are also promoting the concept of ‘lucerne conversions’. That is, changing from ryegrass/white clover systems to lucerne-based systems and adapting management skills accordingly so the conversion is successful.”

The text/Twitter service is one of two currently offered to farmers. Beef + Lamb New Zealand recently launched another to alert farmers to weeds and pests affecting pastures and feed crops, and provide tips for managing them.

Farmers can sign up online for the lucerne text messaging service at and for the pest alerts at

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