The effects of fire on grazed Mitchell Grass pastures in the East Kimberley: a case study

The effects of fire on grazed Mitchell Grass pastures in the East Kimberley: a case study Conference Paper

17th Australian Rangeland Society Biennial Conference

  • Author(s): Andrew B. Craig, David J. Hadden
  • Published: 2012
  • Publisher: Australian Rangeland Society

Abstract: Mitchell Grass pastures are valued for their high carrying capacity and traditionally there has been some reluctance to use fire in their management. The effects of fire in a cattle grazing context were documented on Flora Valley station, in the East Kimberley region of Western Australia. Two sets of sites (0.13 ha), paired on either side of an access track, were established within each of two ‘black soil’ paddocks. These were subject to normal station management. Plant frequencies were monitored in most years over 1995-2010, using a protocol similar to that for grassland sites in the Western Australian Rangeland Monitoring System (WARMS). Pasture composition and total standing dry matter (TDSM) were also estimated. The number of fires at individual sites varied from one to seven; timing of fires varied from August to November. Most had no detectable effect on the frequency of two key perennial species – Astrebla pectinata (Barley Mitchell Grass) and Chrysopogon fallax (Ribbon Grass). Ribbon Grass frequency increased over the study at five of six sites where it was initially recorded. At one site, a reduction in Ribbon Grass frequency following a small-scale fire appeared to be associated with heavy post-fire grazing. There was some evidence that fires in one year may have reduced the subsequent frequency of Flinders Grass (Iseilema vaginiflorum), a useful annual. Values of TSDM at sites burnt in the previous year were extremely low in two years with below average wet-season rainfall, highlighting the need for careful assessment of risks when planning fire management for these pastures.

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Suggested Citation
Andrew B. Craig, David J. Hadden, 2012, The effects of fire on grazed Mitchell Grass pastures in the East Kimberley: a case study, Conference Paper, viewed 18 August 2022, https://www.nintione.com.au/?p=3675.

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