Native grasses make new products

Curtin University

  • Project code: PRJ-009569

  • Project stage: Closed

  • Project start date: Friday, January 30, 2015

  • Project completion date: Friday, May 15, 2015

  • National Priority: NEPI-Incubate new and emerging plant industries, support breakthrough projects


The proposed project aims to assess the feasibility of commercially exploiting new products derived from Australian perennial grasses. Although used selectively for targeted purposes such as land restoration, landscaping and lawns, today these grass seeds remain unexploited as commercially cultivated crops for food grains, animal fodder, fish food, nutritional additives, cosmetics, and pharmaceuticals. There exist more than 1,100 species of perennial grass native to Australia. Before European settlement, these grasses covered vast areas of Australia, but have since been drastically reduced in area, with many species sparsely distributed and representing only a small fraction of their previous habitat. The seeds of many of these grasses are edible and are known to have comprised a significant portion of the traditional Aboriginal diet. Many of the grasses are deep-rooted, drought and heat tolerant and compatible with the natural biodiversity of the region; thus, they have the potential to contribute to Australia’s agricultural productivity in a sustainable way. Using a supply chain approach, the proposed project seeks to identify species of native perennial grass that could be cultivated on a large scale and that possess characteristics and multiple-use properties with potentially strong and unique market value.


New and Emerging Plant Industries

Research Organisation

Curtin University

Objective Summary

The project has five objectives and specific outcomes. These objectives will address key issues involving the feasibility of perennial grasses in a supply chain framework – from selection and cultivation to consumer demand and market potential.

Obj. 1: to assess, from a national and global perspective, the extent to which Australian perennial grasses have been cultivated for commercial and non-commercial purposes.
Outcome: a baseline of knowledge about practical experience and exploitation of those grasses.

Obj. 2: to review the research literature regarding the cultivation, characteristics and properties, both positive (e.g. nutritional, medicinal) as well as negative (e.g. potential toxicity) of native perennial grasses and their seeds.
Outcome: a baseline of knowledge regarding the additional opportunities and impediments to cultivation and commercial exploitation.

Obj. 3: to compare the known (and potential) properties and uses of perennial grass seeds with existing demands and trends for those properties and uses in Australia and overseas.
Outcome: an identification of which grass species possess the greatest opportunity for meeting consumer demands and the scale and location of those demands.

Obj. 4: to match selected high-value grass species with the various climates and soil types of Australia, based on past observed grass distributions and experimental data.
Outcome: identification of potential core regions for successful cultivation.

Obj. 5: to develop a strategic research and implementation plan as the next stage beyond the feasibility study.
Outcome: identification of the next steps required for large-scale commercialisation of Australian perennial grasses.