Experience with Pasture dieback? Let MLA know

James Nason, 28/06/2018

Scientists searching for the cause of the pasture dieback phenomenon spreading in Queensland are asking producers with experience in managing the problem to share their knowledge.

MLA-funded research into pasture dieback is focusing simultaneously on finding the root source of the problem while also testing the effect of a range of management interventions.

MLA Value Chain Relationship Manager Doug McNicholl said researchers are keen to hear from any producers who have had some success in dealing with the issue so far.

“If there are producers who have evidence, anecdotal or otherwise, where they have experienced dieback and they have done something and it has generated a positive result, we would certainly like to hear from them,” he told Beef Central this week.

Potential management intervention strategies being examined in MLA’s pasture dieback action plan include burning, slashing, grazing management, re-sowing with pastures and legume mixes, fertilizer application, biological soil activators, fungicide applications and cultivation.

Producers with feedback are encouraged to contact MLA at 

Adding to the complexity of pin-pointing the cause of pasture dieback is the often conflicting evidence that presents from one affected area to another.

For example there has been anecdotal evidence to suggest that pastures with multi-species and legumes have been less affected or unaffected by pasture dieback compared to monoculture pastures.

But at the same time, researchers say, there has also been direct evidence in some areas of pasture dieback knocking over paddocks with multi-species grasses, and of dieback killing grasses alongside long-term established Leucaena, which is a legume.

There has also been some anecdotal evidence indicating that ‘recently’ sown paddocks with legumes might not be as badly affected or affected at all, however, it is unknown if this is due to the new legumes or the process of planting pasture (i.e. cultivating the paddock, fallowing to store some moisture and to developing a seed bed etc), or something else.

Heritage Seeds Portfolio Manager – Tropicals and Summer Crop, Brent Scott, said it was well established that including tropical legumes in a pasture mix helped to combat pasture rundown, improve pasture persistence, and increase feed quality and live weight gain.

“Producers have started looking toward tropical legumes as an option to attempt to combat pasture dieback and pasture N rundown – the move being best management practice driven, not so much a cure for dieback alone,” Mr Scott said.


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  1. Deborah Newell, 03/07/2018

    Ahhh the problems brought with Buffel Grass. Over twenty years ago it was predicted that mono-culturing buffel would tie up soil nitrogen while it over ran the many small native legumes that were part of Australian native pasture communities until it would also kill itself. It was panic over this that saw the tangled web of such introduced grasses further tie this tangled web up in more knots when Leucaena was introduced amongst other exotic legumes – all now compounding the tangled web created when Australian scientists looked beyond our natives for cultivar development and species extension to what they thought were greener grasses on the other side of the world. Like a plague in reverse you guys who so willingly replaced these old clever Australian grassland communities are finally getting your just desserts of deserts.

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