Perennial Pasture establishment

It’s time to think about the coming wet season, and growing a prairie. Why? Because prairies actually sequester more carbon than forests. Both are sorely needed and we humans must grow them to replace what we have destroyed and rebuild our soil resource, or go the way of the White Pointer. Prairies are amazingly diverse. The remnants of prairy grasslands show us they contained at least 700 species. Most of us are lucky to have one species in our paddocks…capeweed ! Get ready to rectify that !

We’ve recently acquired a Green Pro small seeding machine which disturbs the paddocks minimally, cutting one inch wide furrows ( 6 of them) , depositing seeds, covering them and rolling.  Stew has rigged up a 12 volt pump to deliver compost extract from a tank in the tractor bucket tractor  through to the seeder at rear where it emerges though a manifold as a dribble into each furrow.  With a multi way mix of pasture seeds (including many perennials) in the seed boxes, it’s a winning combination for increasing fertility .                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       

Pigs enjoying pasture including perennial grasses.

Pasture seed mix

We have searched far and wide for seed of the deep rooted perennial pasture species, hankering as we do to have year ‘round carbon sequestration and green animal feed. Cows love a mixture of plants in their mouth, a bit of hay, a bit of fresh green, a bit of honey suckly, a bit of  a tree. When their poops are runny it indicates the pasture is too lush and dry hay is needed. They seem happiest on a very diverse, maturing  pasture in late spring. Although our search has not ended we have so far procured a good diversity of pasture seeds suitable for autumn sowing. The seeds are not coated with a chemical fungicide and pesticide, except for chicory which could not be obtained uncoated. The pasture mix is as follows ( those marked with asterisk are perennial) :

Arrow leaf clover ( dry and acid tolerant)*Tall Fescue “Fawn” , *Fescue “Resolute” , * Cocksfoot “Yarck”,  Prairie Grass “Persista” * Lucerne “Silverado”, *Perennial Rye “Impact2 “, French Serradella “ Margarita” Plantain Major ( Plantago) , purple vetch, Ballard’s seeds “Ball Trotter” horse pasture mix, *Kangaroo grass awns, wheat, rye, Swan oats, Dunn peas, flax, *lab lab bean, chick pea, celery, tillage radish, kale, forage turnip, *chicory and red mustard.  For spring sowing we add sunflower, amaranth, lentil, cow pea, millet, mung,  kidney and borlotti bean.

Very roughly 25 kgs of seed are needed per hectare, that’s 10 kg per acre. Our seed mix costs $17.50 a kg, plus postage if applicable.

There are a few fantastically drought  tolerant   pasture plants best obtained through divisions: Bana grass

Bana grass is a particular variety of Pennisetum. Its amazing growth power makes it suitable for tall grass hedge, fuel and fodder. It propagates from a tiller and grows 8 feet tall.  Golden rod is a medicinal herb and forage and grows ( too) easily from any part of the plant . Honey suckle is a marvelous tough hedgerow plant stock love to eat, as is Saltbush, elderberry, Warrigal greens  and wormwood.  For those blessed with summer wet land or irrigation Russian Comfrey is another medicinal herb of excellent forage value.   We have potted plants of  all the above available from the Farmacy.                                                                    

Plantain Major is nutritious . My chooks love it.
Russian Comfrey knits your broken bones and feeds your livestock.
Seed treatment

Some of the most profitable broadacre farmers today  are buying in excellent compost, making an extract from it and coating their cereal grains  just before sowing . This kind of organic  seed dressing ensures a great start for the plant, developing  vastly superior root growth to untreated seeds, rapidly forming rhizosheaths of soil aggregates all along the fledgling root system, preventing the uptake of toxins, ensuring a healthy immune system and preventing disease. Ian and Dianne Haggerty were early adopters of Elaine Ingham’s ideas and have streamlined their technique over 10 years. Here is Dianne explaining  the method and showing the results:

Elaine Ingham says you can choose a fine day to soak your seeds in compost tea for about 10 minutes, then spread the seeds out on a tarp in the sun, raking it about now and then till dry. The organisms find there way into the microscopic size cracks and crevices of the seed coat. They will go dormant as the seed dries but just like the seed will come back to life when moisture  germinates the seed.   We sell a 20 liter hessian bag of our mature vermicast for inoculating purposes for $50.00   . Best not leave in the sun to dry out. Best use in the garden, in the worm farm within a week as the fun guys like to eat the hessian bag.

Yes please! What will perennial pasture establishment cost me?

Thanks so much for your interest regarding the cost of multi species perennial pasture establishment within an approximately  80 m radius of Nannup.   

It is $291 per acre for seed and seeding service with our minimal disturbance plough which makes 3 cm wide furrows, drops our 20 way  seed mix  seeds in to furrow,  covers and compresses the seed, all in one pass. This cost includes compost extract being applied with the seed, which we believe is vital to  long term success as it  increases the probiotic  biodiversity in your soil for all sorts of benefits including better rain water infiltration and water holding capacity . 

Price per hectare is $727 

Mobilisation entails car trailer hire of $110 , and an hourly travel rate of $90, so about $200 travelling cost  for us to bring our tractor and other equipment to you if you your property is in Bridgetown, Greenie, Pemby, Manji, Busso, Rosa Brook, MR, Karridale or Augusta Kirup or Balingup !

Best if you can share the travelling with a neighbour who also sees the beauty of organic  perennial pasture . 

For those who like details , following is a breakdown of all the process involved and estimates :

Seeding with low disturbance seeder Per acre 

8 kg pasture seed mix @$ 17.5     ……………140

1 hour seeding time @90 / hr ……………………80

Compost tea spraying

Application  extract with boomless nozzle …..$90 an hour. Can do 40 acres in 4 or 5 hours

Time at same rate is taken to make 400 liter tanks of extract on site and assumes access to unchlorinated water)

10 liters bio complete fungal dominated vermicast made into a solution filtered into tank …………$25

1 liter Pure kelp and 1 liter fish hydrolysate biostimulant added to each tank. …….. $20

ie $45 a 400 liter tank which can treat 8 to 10 acres.


 Bear in mind the newly seeded area will need to establish for 6 to a year before being grazed lightly, then allowed to rest until at least about 10 inches high again.

Thanks and hope we get the opportunity to green your part of the world soon . Phone 97561408 to discuss, and if at first you dont succeed, thanks to unhelpful weather events, try , try again.


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