Lawrence F. London, Jr. - Venaura Farm - Chapel Hill, NC, USA
mailto:london@sunSITE.unc.edu  http://sunSITE.unc.edu/InterGarden
mailto:llondon@nuteknet.com  http:nuteknet.com/london  Venaura Farm
Title: Tagasaste


Tagasaste is a hardy, leguminous shrub. In temperate climates it can provide heavy yields of nutritious green fodder for cattle, sheep, goats, pigs, horses, deer, ostriches, emus, rabbits and other grazing animals.

It is the subject of a new book (launched in January 1996), titled "TAGASASTE - a productive browse shrub for sustainable agriculture" (ISBN: 0 646 25403 0). The author is Australian agricultural scientist, Dr Laurie Snook, the world's foremost researcher on tagasaste.

Before he retired in the 1970's, Dr Snook was an animal nutritionist with the Western Australian Department of Agriculture, and a consultant to the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) of the United Nations.

The first edition of the book was published in 1986. The 1996 edition includes information gleaned from a further 10 years of research, his travels in Australia, New Zealand and the Canary islands and the lessons learnt by successful growers of tagasaste.

Tagasaste fodder can be an important base for aquaculture. It provides a high-protein feedstock for fish food from worm farms and snail farms, and for freshwater crustacea.

Tagasaste (pronounced "tagga-sass-tee") it is a native of the Canary Islands, off the northern coast of the African continent. Botanical name is Chamaecytisus palmensis.

The shrub is being exploited in dryland Australia for high- protein fodder. Even when grown on poor coastal sands tagasaste (correctly fertilised) can produce high yields of edible dry matter containing 23% to 27% crude protein and only 18% to 24% indigestible crude fibre.

This compares with about 18% crude protein from lucerne hay (alfalfa) which has an indigestible crude fibre content of 24% to 29%.

Australian farmers now growing tagasaste are reporting these additional benefits:

Tagasaste shrubs grow green fodder year round by harvesting subsoil nutrients and moisture (up to 10 metres down) beyond the reach of ordinary pastures and crops.

Better nutrition during Australia's annual summer drought means improved wool quality and cattle weight gains instead of the losses which occur on poor quality dry feed.

Importantly, tagasaste has not become a weed outside farm cultivation since being introduced to Australia in 1879.

It can become naturalised in virgin bushland, but only rarely does it form exclusive thickets. The seedlings are relished by marsupials. Opossums often kill tagasaste in the bush by constantly eating tender regrowth.


Dr Laurie Snook's dedication to researching and promoting the use of tagasaste as a fodder has led a revolution in farming in Western Australia (W.A.). Livestock producers this year are expected to plant more than 30, 000 hectares of tagasaste - and it is predicted that up to one million hectares will be planted in W.A. in the next 10 years. Eastern states of Australia are now following this revolution as soil salinity and soil acidity problems make browse shrubs a most sensible way to go in improving landcare.

"TAGASASTE" comprises 132 pages with 72 full-colour and black and white photos. It is available by mail order only, for A$19.95 post paid for Australian and New Zealand addresses, or for US$25 (surface mail basis) for all other addresses. Airmail surcharge outside Australia is US$5 a book.

Make cheque payable to AGROVISION, and send to PO Box 2223 Mansfield, Queensland 4122, Australia.

Street address is
359 Broadwater Road, Mansfield, Queensland 4122, Australia.
Phone 07 3349 1422;
Mobile: 019 622 779;
Fax: 07 3343 8287 (International callers +61 7 3349 1422).