Perennial grass seedling recruitment
Demonstration of rubbing seed head (left) and inspecting seed in hand.
Maximising seed fall: Natural seed fall from the reproductive tiller requires the seed heads to become brittle. This may not occur for several weeks after ripening. To assist this process, the seed head can be disturbed to enhance seed fall.
Methods to encourage seed fall include dragging tyres, chains or rollers across the paddock, or using a raised, tined implement. Moving large mobs of animals around a paddock has also proven to be successful, as the combination of disturbance and treading enhances the soil–seed contact. Hoof impact is a common technique used in aerial sowing of pastures to improve establishment.
Restarting grazing: Resting the pasture is important as stock preferentially graze ryegrass or cocksfoot seed heads, resulting in seed loss.1,7 Few, if any, seeds ingested by animals remain viable, as seed is either damaged by chewing or does not survive the digestion process.
Stock should be excluded for about two months after lock-up or until the seed is ripened, which occurs approximately four weeks after flowering, and has shed from the seed head onto the ground (mid to late January).
Ripening is indicated by squeezing the seed between your fingers. It should be plump and firm.
Getting good germination: Following seed fall, the aim is to prepare for germination. This requires removing most of the dry material and may require large mobs, given the large build-up of dry material which may have occurred since lock-up in mid-spring and the limited time before the autumn break. Graze down to about 1,000kg/ha before the autumn break. This is equivalent to about one to two handfuls of dry loose material in 0.1m2 (31 by 31cm quadrat).