A well-prepared fine tilth seedbed is recommended followed by shallow sowing into good soil moisture.
Planting legume seed directly into grass or into a poorly prepared seedbed such as a roughly disturbed soil through blade ploughing is not recommended. Dropping legume seed directly into established grass pasture is not recommended as it's a high risk operation with low success rates for establishment. (DAF Qld.)
However desmanthus has been successfully established over time through cattle ingestion of desmanthus seed which was deposited in cowpats into existing pastures.
Desmanthus (Desmanthus sp) is a summer-growing legume adapted to neutral to alkaline, medium and heavy-clay soils in the drier subtropical environment. (DAF Qld.) Country description suitable for Cowpower desmanthus ranges from poplar box/false sandalwood through scrub soils to alluvial river flats and open downs. Both brigalow and gidgee country suit very well as do basaltic uplands. Sandy cypress country is not recommended for desmanthus, nor the granite derived soils or mulga soils.
Desmanthus seed is naturally hard coated and is treated with scarification as required. DAF Qld. recommends application of inoculant to seed prior to planting. Cowpower desmanthus seed that is to be added to dry licks requires little scarifying as the seed will lie dormant and weather, allowing it to germinate when favourable conditions occur.
Introducing Cowpower into existing pastures through dry lick
Cowpower desmanthus has 300,000 seeds per kg. Mixing 250grams of Cowpower* seed with 100kgs dry lick gives 75,000 seeds per 100kgs. The cowpat gives starting protection from weed and grass competition and gives a fertile base for the Cowpower plants which emerge later after a rain event.
Successful pasture establishment following a pasture dieback wipeout has been made by a Central Qld grazing business. This business is firmly of the opinion that pasture dieback is caused by fungi, and the fungi which causes pasture dieback probably originated from funded projects for the biological control of giant rat’s tail grass.
Their pasture dieback recovery findings after 5 years of trials:
Paddocks previously cropped being converted to pastures
The chances of good establishment improve if sub-soil moisture is good at sowing. Aim for a minimum of 50-60 cm of wet soil under the seedbed. An example suggestion is given for planting a paddock of bambatsi grass and Cowpower desmanthus; this is to plant each in strips separately. Neither bambatsi grass nor desmanthus compete well with other plants immediately after emergence. Planting three strip widths of bambatsi to one strip width of Cowpower across the paddock will allow better establishment of each. Leave it unstocked in the first summer to allow seed to mature. Then stock the paddocks in autumn to begin Cowpower seed ingestion and spread throughout the paddock.
Introducing Cowpower into existing pastures
This is being done in run-down buffel paddocks by planting in strips after spraying out and cultivating the strips for a well prepared seed bed.
Overall recommendation for general pasture paddocks.
This two-pronged approach is a low cost method that will provide ongoing seed introduction and Cowpower establishment over time as seasons allow.
*Cowpower Dry Lick
Cowpower germinating in cow pats at Morinish, QLD