February: Plant counts show significant increased establishment in fallow paddock

The MLA “Perennial pastures in a variable climate” PDS continues to demonstrate the benefit of a two-month fallow prior to planting.

Plant counts carried out in February, unfortunately, showed that many plots in paddock A have very few of the desirable species growing. However,  there are a significant number of perennial plants still growing in all of the plots in paddock B, despite an obvious problem with bent grass throughout the site. These perennials have been allowed to go the seed over the summer to improve plant size, seed recruitment, crown bud development and energy reserves, depending on the plant species.  Currently, levels of clover are low, but there is a lot of seed in many sites, and we have recently grazed both paddocks to allow good germination of clover seeds. One of the more impressive sites is plot 1 in paddock B, which looked like there were very few desirable species remaining until we got on our hands and knees and found plenty of ryegrass plants thriving under the bent grass canopy. As well as doing plant counts, the proportion of weeds and bare areas were also assessed. Plots 1 to 4 in paddock B have a higher proportion of desirable species than perennials, and we are looking forward to these plots taking off once we get an autumn break. Unfortunately,  this is not the case for any plots in paddock A.  Paddock A has little bare ground as much of the area between the rows has been taken over by couch and cats-ear, but in paddock B there are some inter-row spaces available for the perennial species to grow into.