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Botanical composition of pasture in south-western Victoria

P.E. Quigley, G.N. Ward and T. Morgan

Department of Agriculture Victoria, Pastoral Research Institute, Private Bag 105 Hamilton VIC 3300

It is incorrect to assume that the foundation of pasture in the south-western region of Victoria is perennial ryegrass and subterranean clover as different sections of the rural community have mistakenly believed for a long time. Evidence to confirm that undesirable, volunteer grass species dominate pasture in this region was collected through a survey of the botanical composition of 286 paddock sites in late spring, 1989.


Sites were chosen at random from within a 2500 km2 land corridor selected to include the major soil types found in the region, soils derived from Ordovician (Ord) or basalt rocks (Bas) and mixed coastal soil types (MC), typical rainfall patterns (500 to 800 mm annual rainfall) and the important grazing industries including dairy, sheep and beef. Four quadrats, 0.75x0.75 m were used to sample an area of approximately 30x30 mat each site. Within quadrats, the species were identified, an estimate made of the proportion of total dry matter contributed by individual species. Then a mean of the 4 values was calculated.

Results and discussion

Results (Table 1) were segregated into three units based on the major soil types which are found in the region. Eighty-eight species were identified, and the most frequent 14 have been listed. Annual grasses, especially Vulpia spp., occurred frequently throughout the area. Broad-leaved weeds made only a small contribution to the total dry matter. The low contribution made by both perennial ryegrass and all types of clover in the high rainfall areas, ie. mixed coastal soils, was unexpected and suggests large potential improvements in resowing.

Table 1. The percentage contribution to total dry matter (%) by 14 major plant species and the number of sites (N) where they were found; on three soils (Ord', Bas", MC`).

tTrifolium subterraneum cv. Mt Barker; ttTrifolium subterraneum cv. Trikkala or Larisa '51 sites, b159 sites, '76 sites

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