A South African plant is hoped to transform barren Wheatbelt dirt into fertilised soils.
The plant, a legume called lebeckia, was found in the Western Cape of South Africa and is better able to withstand severely hot and windy conditions than WA varieties.
By establishing that lebeckia is not poisonous to Australian animals and will not threaten other species, researchers from Murdoch University will also use it as a hardy food source for livestock.
Murdoch University plant biologist Professor John Howieson says that his team were surprised to be the first to make the discovery.
“Thinking outside the box really paid off,” Mr Howieson said.
Howieson’s team spent nearly a decade searching for the plant and travelling around the globe to places that have similar conditions to the WA Wheatbelt.
The eastern Wheatbelt, which extends for more than 1,000kms, is responsible for around two thirds of WA’s wheat production, and scientists say it will benefit considerably from the newly found plant species.
The new crop allows farmers to enhance sheep productivity and well-being during the summer and autumn, as well as protect land that is being eroded away by wind.
Researchers are now looking to improve machine harvesting technologies for production of seed and improved survival of Lebeckia.