In response to a recent email, Dr. Ian Chivers gave some great information on how to successfully sow native pasture.

“The success from sowing is strongly dependent upon the preparation that can be put in. The more weed control you have completed prior to sowing the better. Similarly the more of a seedbed created prior to sowing the better.

At one end of the spectrum there is simply sowing onto existing pasture with no seedbed preparation which will yield very few seedlings and the pasture will not change much. At the other end is full seedbed preparation involving cultivation (possibly chemical as well as mechanical) and drilling seeding into the top layer of soil – this will yield the greatest results. In between are a host of alternative methods, dragging harrows and broadcasting, broadcasting and then running sheep over to trample the seed in, mulching after broadcast, drilling over denuded areas, and so on. They all will yield intermediate results.

The key ingredients are to remove as much as possible of the existing weed burden and to create a method for getting the seed into contact with the soil, and preferably buried under 5 to 10 mm of soil. These steps are important as they will help to firstly remove weed completion to the emerging seedlings and hence to increase survival rates through to maturity. Secondly they help to keep a higher content of moisture in the soil around the seed, which for most species is the trigger for germination.

If you are sowing our Gallop horse pasture it is best sown in the cooler months when there is adequate moisture retention around the seed, so for you in WA the sowing window will extend from April until around September.

Once sown please keep the horses off the area for at least 5 months until the plants are large enough to tolerate trampling and grazing. I would encourage you to allow one season of seed production prior to grazing if that is possible.

A handy hint her is to put two pegs in the ground about 1 metre apart in a place which is typical of the paddock and where it is easy for you to examine. Into this row sow a single row of seed and bury it. This will then become your guide as to seedling germination and identification. It will tell you when your Gallop Grub horse pasture is germinating and what the various seedlings look like. Remember they are not all going to germinate on the same day, but at least it will show you exactly what is coming up.

I hope this helps.

Ian Chivers”