Tropical Grasslands (1986) Volume 20, 69–78

USE OF FIRE FOR SPELLING MONSOON TALLGRASS PASTURE GRAZED BY CATTLE

M.H. ANDREW

CSIRO Division of Tropical Crops and Pastures, Darwin Laboratories, PMB 44, Winnellie, N.T., 5789, Australia

Abstract

Continuous grazing of preferred patches in set-stocked, unburnt pastures of native monsoon tallgrass results in the death of the perennial grass plants within several years. In paddocks of this pasture type at Katherine, N.T., in which half of each paddock, was burnt in rotation each dry season, cattle strongly preferred to graze in those halves which had been most recently burnt. The other halves of these paddocks were thus spelled in a complementary rotation. This spelling appeared to enable previously grazed patches of pasture to recover, and thus pasture degradation was arrested.
Data from exclosures indicated that grazing early in the rainy season (but not thereafter) depressed the final yield of individual grass plants by about 60%. However the mean pasture yield was depressed by only about 10% because many plants were not grazed at all.

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