An Innovative Method for Planting Native Grasses: Grass Seeding with Greening Australia

Those of you savvy to the current state of things might be aware that the world’s vegetation is in a bit of trouble. Deforestation, climate change, invasive species and the increasing need for urban, industrial and agricultural lands are global threats to native vegetation. This problem can be seen closer to home, most recently in Tony Abbott’s shocking request to delist 74,000ha of Tasmanian forest from World Heritage Listing.

So what can we do?

Well, at Scottsdale Reserve, Greening Australia and Bush Heritage are playing their part by revegetating degraded land.

(foreground) A still-to-be-revegetated section of Scottsdale Reserve.

(foreground) A still-to-be-revegetated section of Scottsdale Reserve.

On April 15th and 28th, I volunteered at Scottsdale. While the 28th was spent planting ‘tube stock’ (native seedlings), the work done on the 15th was something quite different and exciting: planting native grass seeds, using an innovative process developed by Greening Australia.

This seed planting process went like this:

1. Take two utes, and fill one with sand and the other with native grass seeds. In our case, mainly C4 grass seeds were used, so that the grasses can grow this winter.

A ute filled with the sand used during reseeding.

A ute filled with sand, to be used during reseeding.

2. Also acquire a tractor, and equip it with a seeding attachment.

This tractor was delivered to Scottsdale on the morning that I started volunteering. The seeding attachment on the back belongs to the Victorian division of Greening Australia, and was adapted specifically for this reseeding process.

This tractor arrived at Scottsdale on the morning of April 15th. The seeding attachment on the back belongs to the Victorian division of Greening Australia, and was adapted specifically for this reseeding process.

3. Mix together the sand and grass seed, either in a 2:3 or a 5:6 volume ratio. We used the latter ratio in areas where we had to slow the speed of the tractor, to make sure we’d have enough seeds to reseed all the allocated land.

A combination of 4 ten-litre buckets of sand and 6 ten-litre buckets of seed, mixed using shovels.

A combination of 4 ten-litre buckets of sand and 6 ten-litre buckets of seed, mixed using shovels.

4. Load up the seeding attachment with the sand and seed mixture, and trundle over to a scalped* section of land.

'Lanes' of scalped land. The piles of soil (two are visible in the left 'lane') are actually holes for the planting of tube stock after the grass seeding has been conducted. I returned to this same place on April 28th to plant seedlings.

Three lanes of scalped land. The piles of soil (two are visible in the leftmost lane) are actually holes for planting tube stock in after grass seeding has been conducted. I returned to this same place on April 28th to plant seedlings.

*Scalping is a process by which land is deprived of a top layer, removing all vegetation. Scalping land before planting on it reduces competition from invasive weeds, especially African Lovegrass, which is a huge problem in Scottsdale and surrounding areas, giving native grasses an advantage in early stages of growth.

5. Drive the tractor along the scalped land while dropping seed. It is vital to get the speed of the tractor and the rate at which seeds are dropped correct, as moving too fast can mean the seeds aren’t properly pressed into the soil, and moving too slow or dropping seeds too quickly causes wastage.

Land Before Seeding

The scalped land before seeding.

The scalped land after seeding.

The scalped land after seeding.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The pockmarked pattern on the right is due to the ‘prongs’ on the seeding attachment, which press seeds into the soil after they are dropped.

6. Repeat, until you run out of seeds, sand, land, or energy. I was exhausted by the end of the day!


All photos © Josie Ginty, 15 April 2014.

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About Biodiversity Conservation Blog

I am an Associate Professor at The Australian National University and convene a (very awesome) course called Biodiversity Conservation. Myself and students in the course contribute to this blog.
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One Response to An Innovative Method for Planting Native Grasses: Grass Seeding with Greening Australia

  1. Thanks Josie. Really interesting and great photos. Greening Australia is an amazing organisation. Dave Freudenberger’s course focuses a fair bit on restoration for anyone interested. Note that C4 grasses (e.g. Kangaroo Grass, Red-legged Grass) grow in warm seasons, with the C3 grasses growing in cooler seasons.

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