Processing seed of selected low-input native grasses for commercial adoption

The State of Queensland acting through the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries

  • Project code: PRJ-005065

  • Project stage: Closed

  • Project start date: Tuesday, June 1, 2010

  • Project completion date: Tuesday, April 30, 2013

  • National Priority: NEPI-RD&E to generate benefit across several plant industries


A three year research and development project is proposed as an extension to RIRDC project DAQ-332A. In that project (near completion) the proponents selected superior ecotypes of broadly-adapted perennial native grasses and developed seed production protocols using systems used to successfully commercialise exotic grasses in northern Australia. The species involved in the program are cockatoo grass (Alloteropsis semialata), bull Mitchell (Astrebla squarrosa), Barley Mitchell (A. pectinata), Queensland blue (Dichanthium sericeum), black spear (Heteropogon contortus) and kangaroo (Themeda triandra) grasses.

In the project proposed here the research team seeks to overcome a fundamental impediment to the adoption of the native grasses, simply excessive external seed structures which results in poor flow of seeds in the harvested form. This prevents sowing through conventional seed planting equipment and results in a product which is difficult grade and test commercially. These problems have been overcome for other chaffy grasses through the development or refinement of commercial grading equipment. A similar approach is proposed here, building on successful processing on the small scale during the previous project.

The project will include: up-scaling seed production of the superior ecotypes; evaluating various seed processing equipment; assessing the effect on seed flow and quality; field validation of seed establishment performance; and extension targeting commercial adoption. There will be a collaborative approach to practical problem solving, including expertise from native grass researchers, commercial seed processors and marketers. The practical work will be completed by the Department of Employment, Economic Development and Innovation (DEEDI) seed production team with assistance from other DEEDI staff, the seed processing industry and universities.


New and Emerging Plant Industries

Research Organisation

The State of Queensland acting through the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries

Objective Summary

1.Reliable supply of high-quality and affordable native grass seed to the grazing and mining industries of northern Australia.
2.Consolidation of the tropical native grass-seed industry and diversification and expansion of the tropical grass seed industry.
This will overcome current inadequate supply, inconsistent quality (often very low) and high cost of native grass seed harvested from wild-stands, and meet expanding demand in northern Australia for grasses suited to low- or inconsistent-rainfall and low fertility environments.

The project will build on, and realise, the excellent potential for the production of native grass seed under commercial crop environments as identified in the project DAQ-332A.

For two elite ecotypes each of five key native rangeland grass species with demonstrated high potential for crop-based seed production in north Queensland:
1.Expand seed production of selected ecotypes of all grasses in the program and assess the impact of best-practice harvesting methods (combine, brush or other) on seed flow and viability.
2.Assess methods of seed processing to minimise viability loss while enabling flow through planters used to establish native grasses in rangelands and seed crops.
3.Assess establishment performance and forage quality under conditions typical of end-use. Use best-practice seed treatments for dormancy where necessary*.
4.Promote the adoption of best-methods. Build a committed ‘problem solving and commercial adoption group’ utilising DEEDI, university and commercial seed processing facilities and expertise.
* link to the University of Western Australia research team.