Qld graziers urged to watch for pasture die back

Beef Central, 09/08/2016

Central Queensland graziers are being urged to lookout for any signs of die back in their pastures and report it to the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries (DAF).

Die back has long been recognised as a sporadic problem  of buffel pastures.

DAF’s Director (Crop and Food Science) Dr Emma Colson  said recent cases of die back first started appearing in sown pastures in the Burdekin and Mackay region in 2012.

“Since then there have been multiple recorded cases in  tropical and subtropical species of native and sown grasses,” she said.

“Affected regions now include the Mackay Whitsunday  region, Northern Burnett and the Fitzroy Basin.

“It generally appears in the latter stages of the wet  season with plants displaying a reddening of the leaf, reduced yield and  eventually die off. Areas of infestation range in size from a few square  metres to hundreds of acres.”

Dr Colson said the DAF Pasture and Plant Diagnostics  teams was monitoring sites across regions and analysing soil and plant samples to identify the cause.

“To date we have been unable to confirm a definite cause  but we have found a range of pathogens. It will require further extensive testing to identify whether one or a combination of these pathogens are  responsible for the die back,” she said.

“The issue is very complex and at this stage there is no  explanation as to why some pasture species are being affected, when others  growing alongside are not.

“Obviously we are very keen to pursue this but we need  more information. We’re calling on graziers to be on the lookout and let us  know as soon as they see any signs of problems in their pastures.”

Symptoms include:

  • reddening of the leaves (blood red) in the middle part of the plant, which then turns yellow and dies  soon after.
  • plants die in circular patches, that can vary from less than 1m to the entire paddock
  • once the pasture dies, these patches tend to be colonised by broadleaf weeds.
  • sown grass species affected to date include buffel, creeping blue, Rhodes, signal, pangola, paspalum and native species such as black spear and Forest blue grass.

Source: QDAF. To report signs of pasture die back contact DAF’s Customer Service Centre on 13 25 23. Photographs can be submitted to


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  1. Tony Smith, 18/08/2016

    Well can anyone tell me the proper name and the history behind the so called buffel virus the various” green groups”are wanting to release or may have released.

  2. Bill Burrows, 10/08/2016

    Deb – Both exotic and native pastures have a place in Queensland. Where is this article that has me “lamenting the size of the mistake that he and his team of pasture scientists made with these exotic pastures”? Buffel grass made an enormous contribution to the Queensland grazing industry and will continue to do so. It is a successional (high nutrient demanding) species. This enabled it to exploit the high fertility (especially nitrogen) released after brigalow and gidgee scrubs were extensively cleared from the late 1950’s.
    Yes, high nutrient levels run down/bind in time causing buffel ‘decline’. Such ill thrift also encourages disease organisms. Some of the better native (e.g blue) grasses can then move in and, although pasture and animal production is reduced, it is still much higher than in the scrubs themselves.
    Graziers should have access to the best germplasm (plant or animal) available to successfully compete on world markets. So, for example, no one in their right senses would contemplate replacing Mitchell grass pastures at Longreach with exotic species; but likewise buffel/leucaena is still the best option for productive pastures on old scrub country in CQ.

    Nice to hear from you, Bill. One of the true legends of northern pastures research. Editor

  3. deb newell, 09/08/2016

    When I did my Masters research into native pastures the problem with buffel in particular was that it tied up soil nitrogen ultimately killing itself and its companion plants. I remember an article by Burrows ( one of the ‘improved’ pasture pioneers) lamenting the size of the mistake that he and his team of pasture scientists had made with these exotic pastures. The issue was attempted to be repaired with Leukaena which causes problems all of its own.

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