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Native grasses on the southern and central tablelands of N.S.W. - potential for utilization

P.M. Dowling1, D.R. Garden2, P. Simpson3, P.W. Orchard4 and S. Burge5

NSW Agriculture & Fisheries, 1Agric. Res. & Vet. Centre, Orange 2800;
CSIRO Canberra 2601; 3P.O. Box 389, Goulburn 2580; 4Agric. Res. Inst., Wagga Wagga 2650; 5P.O. Box 798, Cooma 2630.

The importance of native grass species on the northern tablelands of NSW has long been recognised by landowners and researchers (1). Dry matter production from some of these species where fertilizer is applied is comparable with improved species (2); and in association with white clover, native grasses are capable of similar livestock production as the improved species (3) over the longer term. Rather belatedly, interest in native grasses has increased on the central and southern tablelands, mainly through the enthusiasm of local district agronomists and landowners. Certainly the same key species that are present on the northern tablelands had been noted to occur on the central and southern tablelands (eg. (4)) but their current status under grazed conditions was uncertain.


To clarify the situation, 37 locations extending from Ophir and Turondale in the north through to Cooma and Berridale in the south, were sampled from grazed paddocks in late November 1988. Specimens were dried, mounted and despatched to the National Herbarium, Sydney for identification.

Results and discussion

The presence of perennial native grasses with desirable growth attributes is important not only from the DM production aspects but also from their potential to reduce soil acidification rates. The extent of native grass pastures on the southern tablelands is estimated to be approx. 0.8m ha. Because these pastures are largely restricted to less arable locations, it is imperative that the correct management procedure appropriate for each pasture situation for efficient and economic utilization be determined so that irreversible changes to less stable and less sustainable systems be avoided.

1. Roe, R. (1947). C.S.I.R. Bulletin No. 210.

2. Robinson, G.G. (1976). Aust. Rangel. J. 1 49-52.

3. Dowling, P.M., Robinson, G.G., and Murison, R.D. (1987). Aust. J. Exp. Agric. 27 389-98.

4. Wheeler, D.J.B., Jacobs, S.W.L., and Norton, B.E. (1982). U.N.E. Monographs No. 3.

5. Whalley, R.D.B. (1984). Chiasma. U.N.E. pp.39-42.

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