In part 1 of our 3 part article “Grasses for different applications explained” we covered which native Australian grasses were best for landscaping, lawns, pasture and minesite rehabilitation. In part 2 we will be looking at land rehab, vineyards, golf courses and erosion control, so let’s get started!
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.
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.
Vineyards and inter-row planting
Inter-row management for many horticultural crops represents a significant cost item, both through obvious costs such as mowing, and through less obvious costs such as competition with the growing crop for water and nutrients. For this reason many growers have opted to either sow short-term crops in the inter-row or alternatively to leave it bare. These treatments have management problems with the cost of sowing the short-term crop on the one hand and the erosion and heat-related losses on the other.
Sowing a native grass inter-row could solve a number of these issues at one time. If correctly chosen for the location it is possible to find a perennial grass cover that is:
- Non-competitive with the vine or tree crop at the time when it is using water;
- Not so tall as to require constant mowing;
- Highly persistent despite the shading and competition from the crop; and
- Tolerant of moderate traffic during the harvest period.
So which grasses are best?
Why these grasses?
These grasses are highly drought tolerant, shade tolerant and require infrequent mowing, reducing costs significantly and requiring less time spent on maintenance. Once established, these grasses are also able to withstand a reasonable amount of traffic and have no problem handling the occasional farm vehicle.
Native grasses can be used in a variety of different circumstances on a golf course. They can be used in the long rough, in the carry zone, for fairway delineation and as features in landscaping around bunkers. There are some suggestions that they can occur naturally on fairways as well, although we would not be recommending them for high traffic areas.
So which grasses?
For the long rough
Fairway transition to light rough
Feature grasses around bunkers and landscapes
- Kangaroo grass
- Tall oat grass
- Lemon scented grass
The control of soil losses following disruption is vital in preserving soil volume. Once lost to a property, soil is not replaced as the weathering processes required to break down stones and rocks is far too slow to quickly and adequately return soil to eroded landscapes. While it may be possible to build the organic content of soil and to capture some soil particles as they move across the soil, these additions do not, of their own, create new soil. Thus it is vital to not lose soil off a property.
Having a perennial grass cover that is adapted to the environment is an ideal method of reducing erosion as long as it is accompanied by appropriate grazing management to help to retain a full cover at all times.
So which grasses?
We often suggest sowing with a cover crop of a cereal which will establish quickly and provide a fibrous root system that will hold the soil in place.
- Japanese millet
Once the cereal crop has been mowed off and has died at the end of the first year, there should be numerous small plants of native grasses now able to access light, water and nutrients.
We hope you find the information in this article valuable. For any questions feel free to call us on 1300 4 73337 (free call) or browse the vast amount of detailed information on our website. You can purchase most of these grasses from our online store or call us to discuss your seed requirements.
Look forward to our 3rd and final part of this series, in which we will be covering infrastructure projects, grasses for carbon storage and looking a little more in-depth on grasses for horse pasture and prevention of laminitis.