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Establishment of sub-tropical perennial grasses in south-western Australia

Nichols, P.G.H., Yates, R.J., Loo, C., Wintle, B.J., Titterington, J.W., Barrett-Lennard, E.G., Stevens, J.C., Dixon, K.W. and Moore, G.A. (2012) Establishment of sub-tropical perennial grasses in south-western Australia. Future Farm Industries CRC



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.

Five years ago seeding failures of sub-tropical perennial grasses in Western Australia were common, with patchy establishment and densities of less than 1 plant/m2. Greater understanding of their seed biology and agronomic requirements has led to the development of a reliable establishment package for warm-season perennial grasses. Rapid adoption of the key elements of the package has resulted in the bar being raised considerably throughout the industry and farmers now expect a much higher and more even plant establishment. The ten key elements of the package are:

1. Plan a year ahead and reduce weed seed-set, commence control of rabbits and kangaroos and consider sowing a cereal to provide stubble for reduced erosion risk

2. Purchase good quality seed of appropriate species and varieties

3. Control weeds and insects prior to sowing

4. Sow into moisture in late winter-early spring (depending on district) - if soil moisture is limiting defer sowing until the following year

5. Set up the seeder to sow into furrows with trailing press wheels and a row spacing of 50−60 cm

6. Sow 2−5 kg/ha of seed, depending on seed quality and whether coated or uncoated

7. Sow at a depth of 5−10 mm

8. Don’t sow too fast

9. Control weeds and pests (insects, kangaroos and rabbits) post-sowing

10. Defer grazing until grasses are well established

This bulletin provides information that provides an understanding of the key factors for successful establishment of sub-tropical perennial grasses. It is primarily aimed at establishment of sub-tropical grasses in south-western Australia, but the principles are also applicable to other areas with similar climates and soils.

Item Type: Report
Series Name: Technical Report. Future Farm Industries CRC. No. 9
Publisher: Future Farm Industries CRC
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