Yvonne and I recently made a quick trip to Melbourne to attend part of the 11th Australasian Plant Conservation Conference. We were particularly interested to take part in a field trip to learn about native grass seed production and see if there were any lessons that could be applied to our projects.
The first stop of the day was at a native grass seed production site where Chris Findlay from Flora Victoria spoke to the group extensively about what the business does, the challenges of grass seed production, the native seed industry, and innovative techniques developed over his many years in the industry.
Chris presented some interesting statistics, for example, supporting the use of seed orchards over wild harvest (at least 6 times more seed for wallaby grass species). He also highlighted that the timing of sowing is of critical importance and can make the difference between harvesting in the same year or the next (which has important flow on effects for productivity and income).
Later on in the day, the group visited a manufactured or created grassland at Sydenham Park, where approximately 20 hectares of native grassland now stands in what was once paddocks of serrated tussock (a declared weed). Project manager, Simon Heyes from City of Brimbank, highlighted that this was a long-term project and had involved six years of boom spraying to overcome the highly invasive tussock weed before sowing with grass seed, with other weed issues an ongoing management concern.
Wildflowers have recently been added to the grassland, and the project aims to extend the grassland over a further 50 hectares over the next decade. Simon also spoke about the importance of the public becoming familiar and comfortable with areas of long grass which are often seen as a fire and/or snake hazard.
All in all, the day was full of interesting information and provided a lot of food for thought. Thanks to the Australian Network for Plant Conservation for a great event, and particularly to the speakers on the day.