How to manage pasture dieback

By Jamie Salter

Pasture dieback was detected in NSW on two occasions in 2019.

The cause and solution of pasture dieback is unknown, however, Meat & Livestock Australia has released tips on managing the condition.

Sowing forage stocks such as sorghum, oats, barley, wheat or millets, as well as legumes and pasture species such as Callide Rhodes, were recommended for feeding stock.

By increasing the diversity in pasture, the number of beneficial micro-organisms within the soil increases and helps fend off attack from pathogens.

MLA trials showed incorporating intensive cell grazing may limit dieback by reducing biomass in affected paddocks.

A $3 million grant was provided by Federal Agriculture Minister David Littleproud to detect and prevent the spread of pasture dieback.

The research to date showed mealybugs may be a leading cause of pasture dieback and can be deterred through burning if spotted.

The use of straight nitrogenous fertiliser should be avoided, as it has been shown to increase mealybug size, growth rate and egg production.

Key findings of the research on pasture dieback shows weather and soil conditions may be related to the spread and fungal pathogens are not the primary cause.

Cultivating and re-sowing pasture with insecticide treated seed and fertiliser such as Poncho or Gaucho showed no sign of pasture dieback recurring.