Revegetation

Bob Myers interview – introduced vs native grasses for fuel-load and bushfire prevention

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Every summer in Australia, bushfires are a very serious matter that can claim lives, land and property. Having a fire safety and evacuation plan is essential in most parts of Australia. But what if we could control the fires before they have begun? We were privileged to have Bob Myers, founding president of the Native Grasses Resources Group in South Australia and native plant grower and breeder, visit us here at NativeSeeds and spend some of his time doing an interview for us. In this section of the interview, Bob explains how introduced grasses can contain up to 1300% more fuel load for bushfires than our beautiful Australian native grasses.

Infrastructure Projects

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Rehabilitate Soil Exposed by Infrastructure Projects

Infrastructure projects, should be rehabilitated immediately. Otherwise, the area will be more prone to erosion. Excessive amounts of dust could be a problem, too.

However, restoring such sites to their original condition can be quite a challenge. As you may know, it took native grasslands thousands of years to develop and reach an extensive coverage. Therefore, it is essentially impossible to ensure their complete reproduction in just a very short time. But don’t be disheartened. There are steps you can take to start rehabilitating areas affected by Australian infrastructure projects.

Instead of using introduced grass to cover soil exposed by major land infrastructure projects, it’s best to sow native grasses because they will growin poor conditions and are much easier to maintain. They are considerably cheaper, too. When choosing a seeding mix, it should include rapid establishing grasses such as Windmill grass (Chloris truncata) and Wheat grass (Elymus scaber), as well as slower establishing species such as Kangaroo grass (Themeda triandra) and Wallaby grass (Rytidosperma spp.) for many areas of Australia.

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If the site is highly prone to erosion, or if you need to see fast results, a cover crop of a cereal like Ryecorn or Japanese Millet can be sown at 20kg/ha along with native grass mix. They will die off within a few months, but their root system will help hold the soil together and protect the emerging native grass seedlings. ou just need to make sure that the cover crop does not drop seeds on to the ground.

Weed control is also important during the initial stages of the rehabilitation process. Weeds need to be controlled. Otherwise, they could smother the emerging native grass seedlings and steal valuable nutrients from them.

Need help rehabilitating areas affected by infrastructure projects? Contact us at Native Seeds anytime. We can provide you with quality seeding mixes that can help revegetate exposed soil.

Mine rehabilitation

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Rehabilitation of mine sites

The Use of Native Grass in Mine Rehabilitation

The Importance of Indigenous Grasses for Mining Revegetation Programs

Looking to buy wholesale native grasses? Call us on 1300 473 337 or 03 9555 1722 today!

Abstract

Mine rehabilitation is not easy, but it is doable. Mining, or any other type of disruptive earthwork, always leaves damages on the area where it was done. Thus, it has sparked a need to rejuvenate the said area with the appropriate variety of plant species. However, the people’s intention of knowing the species of the plants only aim to finalise their vegetation, instead of considering the ecological processes and progressive stages that occur on the site upon plant colonisation. People often forget that forests don’t simply grow in a day. It takes a lot of development and meticulous growth for it to flourish.

The adoption of sound ecological restoration practices should be one of the main priorities. To be able to do so, one must follow a chronological process that would offer a variety of benefits to the area of rehabilitation. The initial step to mine site rehabilitation should involve the colonisers, or the primary successor species of plants that will primarily cover the land. They should be prepared for the next species that will stimulate the soil condition for the final or climax species of plant life. Starting with the climax species will not build a proper and healthy vegetation community for the area.

It is not ideal to start the rehabilitation using tree species for a variety of reasons. Trees do not cover majority of the ground, which will only expose it to soil erosions. Also, the first few years of rehabilitation will only result in losses, if trees are the initial plants to be placed. There will be no small insects and micro-fauna that could successfully support the trees, which will only result in the premature death of the forest.

The preliminary step in mine rehabilitation should focus on the ground. By zeroing in on this aspect of the forest, it could actually help control soil erosion and stabilising the site. It will also prepare the soil for the next species of plants. The primary revegetation species’ best candidate is the grass. This is due to its ease of growth, competitiveness over majority of weeds, promotion of soil health, excellence at providing soil stability, and growth over a broad range of soil type. Native grasses have more beneficial outcomes and they actually promote the activity of local microbes and micro-flora.

For better tolerance for local environmental changes, it is much more feasible to sow native grass on the site. Indigenous plants have greatly shown their resilience against local bacteria and fungi, which helps reinstate the previous conditions of the mine and aid in the development of higher successor of plant species.

Using native or indigenous grasses should be the initial step towards the revegetation of mining sites. If you have any questions regarding this, please feel free to contact us.

Land rehabilitation

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Rehabilitation of native grasslands

Restoring natural native beauty to our land

Land that has been degraded by many, often external, factors such as salinity, overgrazing, drought and fire will need rehabilitation to return it to a more productive condition. Whether that final condition relates to greater biodiversity, or high perenniality, or more grazing animals per unit area is not the issue here, it is about restoring an environment to something like its original balanced and resilient condition.

In our experience it is not just a matter of doing one thing alone such as changing the grazing regime or adding seed or removing weeds, but is a combination of several of these factors, all applied in a systematic and planned manner. Planning, or thinking about likely future problems and having a course of action in mind, is vital to success in restoration efforts.

For example, if soil salinity is the major issue for rehabilitation, just closing the gate to prevent grazing is not going to restore soil health or plant vigour. What is needed is a plan to do a number of things, which may include fencing off the worst affected areas, sowing the appropriate types of native grass seeds and planting suitable trees up the slope. It may involve other factors such as control of the worst weeds and incorporation of mulch into the soil through heavy or crash grazing, but what is clear to us is that full rehabilitation of degraded sites is not something that is going to be achieved by just one or two actions accompanied by a lot of hope and trust.

Having said all that, it is important to choose the correct species of grass for revegetation of degraded sites. We emphasise the importance of starting with a grass cover for revegetation as the grasses are the group of plants most capable of providing a full soil cover within a short period of time. This is important as the period after exposure of the soil is the time when soil losses through erosion are at their most devastating and a cover of grass will hold the soil together better than any other plant group. While the final vegetation community may be a forest, the interim step of having a grass coveris a vital step in providing soil cover and microflora build-up which are so necessary for the ultimate success of the forest.

So how do you choose what species to sow?

Often the first step is to find out what grows naturally in the area. To do this it is often a simple matter of finding a local species list which is usually available from your local Natural Resources Management Board or Group. If not from there then ask an informed local nurseryman who has a broad view of the world (not just limited to what they have in stock at the time). Once you have the list of grass species then call Native Seeds and we can advise you which of those species are firstly, available and secondly, likely to succeed in the task of providing a ground cover.
All too often we see a wish list of plant species included in a job specification that may feature up to 30 different grass species. Most of those species are not available as no-one has them under production or indeed they cannot be collected from the wild in the quantities desired. Usually this is for good reasons – such as it being a poor seed producer or not producing viable seed.The next step is to think about the most appropriate method of soil preparation – sometimes, such as after a fire, it is to do nothing at all, but simply to spread seed over the soil surface, other times when the soil is very firm and seed cannot penetrate, it is to do a light cultivation.
Then planning should get intense and deliver a plan that has items included such as soil bed preparation, weed control, sowing times, sowing rates and methods, post sowing treatments to maximise germination, post sowing treatments to prevent weed invasion and processes to ensure that the sown grasses are allowed to grow fully and drop their own seed. Failing to plan for all of these stages will frequently cause failure of the project.
 As seed merchants we are often blamed for the failure of the project as the “seed was no good” or other such excuses. While we take pride in producing good seed (and will supply a Purity and Germination certificate for our main seed lots, if requested), we cannot guarantee a good result in rehabilitation works as there are so many inter-related factors that have an impact on the success or failure of the rehabilitation works.

Rehabilitation of land that has been adversely affected can be a slow and frustrating process. After all why do we think it should take us only 6 months to rehabilitate something that had taken thousands of years to establish in the first place? Our impatience and need for rapid results often makes for inappropriate actions in order to tick off the box called “completion”.

We are not suggesting that nothing should be done, or that it is all impossible, just that when establishing benchmarks for success of the rehabilitation project an assessment of success or failure at 6 months after sowing is not appropriate. It is possible to establish a benchmark for 6 months after sowing that might reflect progress towards an ultimate goal, but it is not the final product at that time. A view that exceeds 1 year is important, and more realistically a view of around 2 to 3 years is needed. Only at that time can success or failure be truly evaluated.