Dairy farmers are under increasing pressure to maximise their use of home-grown high-protein forages to achieve sustainable intensification. The use of shallow tillage, such as direct drilling, is one approach farmers could use to reduce the establishment costs when incorporating these forages into high-output pasture-based systems. Lucerne ( Medicago sativa) is a high yielding forage with high crude protein concentration which is highly palatable to ruminants. An experiment investigated the effect of establishment date and method on lucerne establishment. Findings showed that competition from grass was the main factor affecting the lucerne establishment. The yield of lucerne, established after either a first or second silage cut, either by ploughing or direct drilling, did not differ among treatments where herbicide was used. If lucerne is to be successfully established without the use of herbicide, it should be sown after ploughing not by direct drilling, and after a first silage cut.