The Grassy Groundcover Research Project – returning complex indigenous grassland communities to agricultural land
The purpose of the Grassy Groundcover Research Project (GGRP) is to use direct sown seed mixtures to reintroduce complex and persistent grassland communities to agricultural lands. The GGRP stems from and furthers the scope of a series of restoration studies conducted at the University of Melbourne's Burnley Campus over the last several years. This work investigated the use of multi-species seed mixtures to reinstate functional and persistent grassland communities via direct seeding. The results indicated there was considerable potential for broad-scale restoration of herbaceous plant communities using direct seeding.
The GGRP is a three-year experimental project funded by the National Heritage Trust and sponsored by several south-western Victorian Catchment Management Authorities. It is managed in partnership by The University of Melbourne and Greening Australia (Victoria). The focus of the GGRP it twofold:
· to investigate the techniques required to reintroduce multi-species assemblages (representative of locally occurring remnants) onto land with an agricultural history (where weed management and seedling establishment are primary areas of experimental interest);
· to investigate the production of large quantities of high quality provenance seed in containerised production systems.
Initiated in November 2004, the project has to-date sown the first of three annual sowings at each of fifteen 1 ha experimental sites across south-western Victoria. Experimental locations range from Bendigo in the state's central region to Colac in the south, and from Hamilton in the west and Donald to the north. Each sowing site is located on agricultural land with a history of cropping or grazing. These sowings followed a first season's seed collection that was probably the largest single provenance-based collection of indigenous species undertaken for such restoration purposes (approximately 180 species). Further, the production of seed to supplement field collections for 2nd and 3rd year sowings has been initiated at six seed production facilities linked to each of the sowing sites. Here, plants from the range of species collected from remnant communities were propagated by growers and grown as seed crops for harvest in 2005/06 in a containerised production system
Points to be covered in presentation:
· Brief discussion of the history of grassland rehabilitation leading to direct seeding;
· Brief discussion of the rationale for the use of complex seed mixtures;
· Discussion of the GGRP, its goals and progress to date;
· Discussion of the main field experiment, treatment rationale and types of measurements; and
· Results from supplementary experimental investigations e.g. seed germination, seed viability, the use of plant-derived smoke in propagation, plant propagation, planting density of seed production.