News

Pasture recovery after bushfires

By Country News

Farmers returning to their properties after bushfires will need to evaluate the conditions of pastures and grasses.

Agriculture Victoria livestock extension officer Fiona Baker said most open plains grass paddocks, with short or little grass, would have low to moderate intensity burns.

“Most of these paddocks can recover on their own given time and moisture,” she said.

“Annual pastures generally will need to be resown.”

Ms Baker said the need to resow perennial pastures would depend on the severity of the burn and what the paddock density was like prior to the burn.

“Paddocks that had long grass can suffer from moderate to high intensity burns,” she said.

“These paddocks may look dark brown to black in colour a few days after the fire and may struggle to return to normal production.

“The viable plant numbers in the paddock may have been reduced and may need either over-sowing or resowing.”

Ms Baker said paddocks bordered by forested areas often suffer higher intensity burns and look charred, with very little remnant vegetation remaining.

“A quick test to see whether grasses have survived is to go out into a paddock and give a tuft or two a gentle tug.

“If it stays in the soil, the plant has a good chance to recover with adequate moisture, if it pulls straight out, it is dead and the paddock will need resowing.”

Another method to test recovery suggested by Ms Baker was to mark a one metre square in a paddock and hand-water it with five litres of water each day, for a fortnight.

“If nothing reshoots, the paddock will need to be resown.”

For more information on pasture recovery after fire, visit: agriculture.vic.gov.au/bushfires