Farm Table says:
What is the problem?
Sub-tropical grasses are showing excellent potential in the Northern Agricultural Region (NAR) of Western Australia in areas with mild winters and where the rainfall is greater than 300 mm. They have also been widely used on the south coast of WA, where Kikuyu, in particular, has been sown over an estimated area of 120,000 ha.
What did the research involve?
A four-year project, titled “Reliable establishment of non-traditional perennial pasture species”, commenced on 1 July 2006 as part of the former Cooperative Research Centre for Plant-based Management of Dryland Salinity (Salinity CRC), with industry funding from Meat & Livestock Australia, Australian Wool Innovation and the former Land and Water Australia. Management of the project was continued by the Future Farm Industries Cooperative Research Centre (FFI CRC), upon its inception in July 2007. The project consisted of four sub-projects:
• “Establishment of exotic warm-season grasses”;
• “Establishment of salt land and rangeland species”;
• “Establishment of native grasses and legumes”; and
• “Recruitment of native grasses in native pastures”
What were the key findings?
Establishment conditions were favorable, with 147 mm of rainfall from transplanting on August until the end of 2007. Annual rainfall for 2008, 2009 and 2010 was 527 mm, 450 mm and 380 mm, respectively, with the majority falling from May to September in each year.
These experiments showed that once established the vast majority of panic grass plants will survive for at least four years and that survival is not affected by densities up to 16 plants/m2. The main challenge is to get enough plants to survive (at least 8 plants/m2 ) through to the autumn after sowing and for this to occur evenly across the paddock.