Tropical Grasslands (1991) Volume 25, 91–97

Sustaining productive pastures in the tropics
3. Managing native grasslands

J.G. McIVOR1 and D.M. ORR2

1Division of Tropical Crops and Pastures, CSIRO, Townsville; and
2Pasture Management Branch, QDPI, Brian Pastures Research Station, Gayndah; Queensland, Australia.


The grasslands of tropical Australia include the naturally treeless, grass dominated communities and the grassy understories of the widespread woodlands and shrublands. Information from the monsoon tallgrass, tropical and subtropical tallgrass, tussock grasslands (Mitchell grass) and Acacia (mulga) shrublands is used to show how management can influence grassland performance. Emphasis is placed on vegetation responses but effects on soil characteristics and animal production are also considered. The major management options considered are control of stock (numbers, species, breeds, when and where they graze), fire, feed supplements and timber treatment. Changes in land condition in the Burdekin catchment in response to management and seasonal conditions are outlined. The various options must be integrated and the role of decision support packages is considered.
Major changes are occurring in the northern grasslands and future management research should include studies of the ecology of the main grass species, the biology and management of woody plants, other pasture types (e.g. Bothriochloa/Aristida lands), stocking rate/animal production relationships, the costs and benefits of management practices e.g. temporary overgrazing, and grazing systems for changing pasture composition and animal production.

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