Proposed project to investigate causes of pasture dieback

Beef Central, 09/08/2017

Queensland’s Department of Agriculture and Fisheries (DAF) says it is continuing to work with Central Queensland graziers who are reporting large tracts of pasture dieback on their properties.

Departmental experts have developed a major project proposal to investigate the causes of dieback across Queensland, which has been submitted to Meat and Livestock Australia (MLA) for funding.

Pasture dieback is not new, having been observed in Central Queensland on-and-off for the past 20 years. However, there has been an increase in reports in recent years.

To date, 120 landholders have reported pasture dieback on their properties, and patches of dieback appear to be present on over 35,000ha of highly productive pastures.

Since mid-2015, DAF staff have conducted site visits, soil and plant sampling and laboratory analyses to gain a better understanding of the problem. Sites have been primarily sampled for soil, insects and fungi, with no conclusive results.

Experts have theorised that pasture dieback is likely caused by a disease complex, with potential pathogens including soil borne fungi and/or viruses. However, there is no clear evidence that any fungal pathogen or pathogens are the cause of the pasture dieback – indicating there may be multiple causal agents.

According to DAF Rockhampton based senior agronomist Stuart Buck, many graziers have reported large areas of dieback in recent months, which is an important first step in understanding the issue.

However, Mr Buck said pasture dieback was a complex issue and had been the subject of previous research efforts by DAF in the late 1990s and Central Queensland University in the early 2000s – without any conclusive causes or management options.

Mr Buck addressed a Grazing Land Management EDGE workshop in Rockhampton on Friday as part of his commitment to investigating the issue.

He has also in the final stages of compiling a detailed situation analysis on pasture dieback and has produced a comprehensive fact sheet that describes symptoms and impacts, as well as photographs to assist graziers identify stages of dieback on their property.

“Many graziers are unfamiliar with pasture dieback and therefore don’t realise they have it, and we also have anecdotal reports to indicate some graziers are reluctant to report affected pastures.

“DAF officers who have been involved in the issue have included plant pathologists, agronomists and extension officers. Results to date have been inconclusive, so we need to hear from more affected landholders so we can collect data, as well as hear from them about any management techniques they have been implementing,” Mr Buck said.

Source: QDAF. If graziers are concerned about pasture dieback on their property and would like to report it, or would like a copy of the fact sheet, call DAF on 13 25 23.

  • MLA is asking affected graziers to fill out an online survey to report the occurrence of dieback at mla.com.au


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