Skip to content

Bahia grass pastures - productive or pest?

Bahia grass (Paspalum notatum) is a widespread grass on the north coast and how it is viewed by farmers depends on where it’s located. On the more fertile alluvial flats it is often viewed as a weed due to its invasive nature in more productive pastures, on lighter less fertile country it is often considered a reasonable option compared to what would otherwise grow there.

North Coast Local Land Services and Norco Rural, Casino have recently carried out two separate pasture trials to assess the economics of grazing Bahia pastures on two different soil types. One Bahia paddock was located on rich alluvial soil, the other on a sandy loam soil. The feed quality and dry matter yields were assessed against a number of different treatments and expected level of beef production.

Nathan Jennings, Senior Land Services Officer with North Coast Local Land Services said, “The purpose of the trials was to give producers information so they are able to make better decisions on how to manage Bahia pastures and the likely expected level of beef production.”

Nathan is often asked questions such as: Do I get rid of it and sow more productive pastures, or if I raise soil fertility through fertiliser will this lead to an economic benefit in production?

The likely level of pasture production is very dependent, regardless of treatment applied, on soil type and the level of fertility of the individual paddock. The two studies showed very different results in dry matter yield and feed quality.

Brendan O’Brien, Senior Land Services Officer, said, “Generally the heavier soils have better water holding capacity and the ability to hold onto applied nutrients, hence a higher level of pasture production can be expected.

“Applications of nitrogen also showed an increase in feed quality and dry matter, as is the case with most tropical grasses.”

While there were benefits in nitrogen and other fertiliser treatments, the studies looked at the likely economic benefit, if any, of the different treatments in terms of beef production. The findings can be found in two factsheets produced by North Coast Local Land Services:

Evaluation of Bahia grass (Paspalum notatum) pastures in response to fertiliser applications on the mid north coast of NSW

Evaluation of Bahia grass (Paspalum notatum) pastures in response to fertiliser applications on sandy loam soil of the far north coast of NSW

Media contact: Brendan O’Brien Phone 0400 685 400

Image caption:  
1. The Bahia trial on alluvial soil in the Macksville area (top photo)
2. Bahia pasture trial on lighter sandy loam in the Casino area (bottom photo)