posted 4 May, 2023

Discovery of historic pasture trial yields long-term persistence data


Demonstration sites are an important tool that enables graziers to get useful local insights about the impact of different management approaches. Unfortunately, many demonstration sites are linked to short project timeframes and time-limited data.

Led by NRM South, through funding from the Australian Government’s National Landcare Program, the Derwent Pasture Information Network is a three-year project being delivered by the Derwent Catchment Project.  One of its aims has been to establish demonstration sites to investigate the best approaches to improve ground cover and reduce soil erosion.

During a recent property visit in the Derwent Valley, the project team came across an historic pasture demonstration site that had first been sown 12 years ago. Although this site had been integrated into normal grazing operations, it still contained valuable historic data. It has now been added into monitoring activities, with three perennial pasture demonstration sites established in 2020.

Peter Ball, pasture expert with The Derwent Catchment Project, found substantial elements of the original grass plots remained. Using the original site map, he was able to re-mark plot boundaries. Peter commented that revisiting a historic site such as this offered a unique opportunity to assess what species and cultivars persist over time.  ‘Initially, it looked like the site had mostly reverted to naturalised ryegrass,’ said Peter. ‘But with a bit more investigation we found some perennial Cocksfoot and Phalaris plots, with some cultivars more evident, along with encouraging signs of Lucerne.

Yolanda Hanusch, Project Officer with NRM South, commented that the opportunity to revisit a historic site was well received by graziers and researchers. ‘This type of information is a valuable resource for the local grazing community,’ Yolanda explained. ‘Information on which species and varieties do best is critical to guiding future sowing regimes and building sustainable and resilient groundcover’.

Project learnings are shared with the community via field-days and will be included in the purpose-built website for dryland graziers in Tasmania