Establishing Cowpower® in Pastures

General information

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.

Soil types

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.

Seed preparation

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.

Sowing rates

  • For MECHANICAL PLANTING INTO WELL PREPARED SEEDBEDS 3kgs of Cowpower seed per hectare is recommended.
  • For DRY LICK APPLICATION Cowpower* seed at 250 grams per 100kgs of dry lick is recommended.

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. Following trials conducted with weaner steers (and dissection of much manure!) we have arrived at a rate of ¼ kg or 250grams of Cowpower* seed mixed into 100kgs of dry lick. This will deliver an estimated 20 Cowpower seeds per cowpat, 4 of which will be germinating and 16 remaining as hard seed which will weather over time into germinating seed. 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. The cost is a very manageable $10.00 per 100 kilogram of dry lick. Simply mix in Cowpower* seed as the dry lick is dispensed or ask your preferred dry lick manufacturer to add Cowpower* to your lick.

  • 1 litre of Cowpower seed weighs 1 kilogram so measuring seed amounts is easily done with a measuring jug.

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.

  1. Establish a small Cowpower plot in a fenced off area near a watering point or in laneways. Manage the stock entry to allow grazing entry and exit when seedpods are ripe and;
  2. Provide cattle Cowpower* seed through dry lick inclusion at recommended rates.

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

  • Proven to persist and spread in Maranoa district pastures over 20 years.
  • Selected for its ability to be spread by cattle. Can be added to dry licks.
  • Proven to increase available soil nitrogen for improved pasture production.
  • Unaffected by the pasture dieback disorder.

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© Cowpower® by Jock Douglas is a registered trademark. All rights reserved.
Canebridge Pty Ltd trading as Cowpower Desmanthus. P.O. Box 320 Roma, Queensland 4455 Australia.
Contact Jock on 0409 399 652 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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