Nick Kelly of Hollands Track Farm in Newdegate is seeing some encouraging results in his perennial pastures project that was implemented late last year.
In early December 2020, Nick seeded a mixture of perennial varieties to enhance ground cover and provide ongoing fodder options. These included panic, rhodes, lucerne, chicory and digitaria.
Limited rainfall early on saw meagre germination rates across some species. Some of the broadleaf seeds such as lucerne and chicory successfully sprouted but the hot, dry summer and limited sob-soil moisture meant a limited survival rate. However, the 30mm rain event in March saw a second round of germination of the finer seeded grass species.
Variability among the perennials
There is some inconsistency in the success of a few perennials throughout the paddock but the finer grass seeds have survived and persisted through the false breaks. The broadleaf species were, unfortunately, less persistent.
The sub-tropical grasses, such as the rhodes, are currently dormant due to the cold temperatures at this time of year but Nick is confident that they will take off again when temperatures start to rise again.
Where to from here?
Although there has been some variability across the species and ground cover, the spring weather should see the coverage thicken and begin to thrive.
Nick is pleased with the results so far saying, “Looking at the grasses now, I would definitely do this again”.
He is also considering trialling something like lucerne or chicory in March, following a rain event of at least 20mm.
Further monitoring will be carried out this spring and summer to see what impact the grasses are having on ground cover at the paddock scale.
The project is supported by funding from the Australian Government’s National Landcare Program.