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Department of Primary Industries
in "Grasses for the Tropics"
Promotes Gamba grass (Andropogon gayanus)

Gamba grass can be likened to Guinea Grass but with four times the fire fuel load per hectare

With respect we ask for evidence to show how the advice below can demonstrate a real commitment by the Department of Primary Industries to make this country more productive. I am sure we all want to energetically learn from past mistakes.

How can this advice be responsible when costs arising from establishing this grass is clearly thought by many experts to outweigh any conceivable benefits?

Four years ago Gamba was obviously regarded as a very serious weed (NT Police and Fire department note).

Certainly it is now declared class A "to be eradicated" within the Northern Territory

Verbatim from Qld DPI, June 2003
"Grasses for the Tropics
Gamba grass
(Andropogon gayanus
source)

Key Points

  • tall grass for monsoon regions
  • for low fertility soils
  • palatable
  • drought tolerant.

Gamba grass cv. Kent can produce a big bulk of palatable feed in the monsoonal areas of north Australia. It is useful for planting in holding paddocks where it can feed a large number of cattle for a short time.

 Kent was introduced into the Northern Territory for the seasonally dry tropics. These monsoonal areas receive 750-1500 mm of rainfall annually with a dry season of 6-9 months.

 Gamba grass will grow on a wide range of soil types, from light sands to clay loams, but not on very heavy clays that become waterlogged. It can tolerate highly acid soils, and high levels of aluminium.

1 Stem and leaf 2 flowering stem.

The leaf blades have a strong white mid-rib, and both surfaces are hairy. Gamba grass has a special root system with three types of roots: fibrous surface feeders, thick cord-like roots which store starch and anchor the plant, and long vertical roots which can extract soil water from depth well into the dry season.

As a result, Gamba grass comes away well to provide early growth at the start of the wet season, and remains green well into the dry season if grazed. As it is very palatable when green and stock graze it heavily, it is susceptible to overgrazing until well established, after which it can be very persistent.

Heavy grazing reduces the clumps to low crowns. Gamba grass must be managed well; if allowed to go to seed in April, the great bulk of 2-3 m high seed stems can become a fire hazard when it dries in winter.

Being a clump species, Gamba grass will combine well with many twining and erect legumes, of which Seca stylo is the best adapted.

 However, because Gamba grass is so well adapted and sets large amounts of seed, it can naturalise. With the very hot fires generated altering the fire regime, it has the potential to become an environmental weed, and is disfavoured in the Northern Territory for that reason. It is still a useful species under more intensive management.

News

"Grasses of the Tropics" note reproduced verbatim from the Queensland Department of Primary Industries website, 2nd June 2003. DPI, please accept our comments as genuine and thanks for your work to improve productivity

 Further information

L.R. Humphreys and I.J. Partridge (1995) A Guide to Better Pastures for the Tropics and Subtropics' (revised 5th Edition) published by NSW Agriculture.

 

DPI Call Centre: phone 13 25 23 (within Queensland)

Prime Notes CD-ROM available from DPI Books, GPO Box 46 Brisbane, Qld 4001or email books@dpi.qld.gov.au

 Acknowledgment

© The State of New South Wales, NSW Agriculture 1995.

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Information contained in this publication is provided as general advice only. For application to specific circumstances, professional advice should be sought. The Department of Primary Industries Queensland has taken all reasonable steps to ensure the information in this publication is accurate at the time of publication. Readers should ensure that they make appropriate inquiries to determine whether new information is available on the particular subject matter.

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 © The State of Queensland (Department of Primary Industries) 2003.

 Queensland Government Gateway"

 

  

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