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#882149 - 08/09/2010 23:53 grass and soil
dcon Offline
Weather Freak

Registered: 27/01/2009
Posts: 464
Loc: S.E. Suburbs, Adelaide |
hi, this is probably a really stupid question but I hope someone will have the patience to answer it.

in the first photo, it is mid February, just NW of Birdwood, SA (if anyone knows that area) and the grass is very tall.
in the second photo, it is at Mt. Crawford, less than 5 km away in April and even in the paddock on the right which looks ungrazed the grass is comparatively short.
1st photo
photo 2

So my question is, is the grass in the first photo taller because the soil is good and fertile (deep soil, rather than the rocky stuff in the second photo). Also is the photo close enough to recognize what type of grass is in the first photo and is it native or introduced?

in summary, can you tell whether the soil is fertile from what type of grass is growing and how high the grass is...and is the soil in a valley better 'deeper' soil than the soil on a hilltop...as a general rule of thumb.


Edited by dcon (08/09/2010 23:55)
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cheers david
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#882196 - 09/09/2010 09:14 Re: grass and soil [Re: dcon]
ant Offline
Meteorological Motor Mouth

Registered: 05/10/2002
Posts: 9063
Loc: Overlooking ACT at 848m
While waiting for someone a bit more expert to come on with an explanation, some general points...

Valley is a more benign environment. Sheltered, probably more topsoil has migrated/settled down there over the eons. Water ends there and stays there, while on hillside it rolls away, especially if the hill is rocky (or rocky underneath, water just drains straight through and down... to the valley).

The grass in the town pic looks like some kind of sown grass. Stuff on teh hill paddock looks more endemic, and there'd be roos adn rabbits having a good go at it. By April, most places are getting pretty bare as the last of the summer/autumn growth is eaten down and the colder temps see grass growth slowing.

That long stuff in the town pic has gone to seed and is drying, less palatable to grazing animals, although by the looks of it no animals are grazing that grass.

You can get a very good idea of teh soil from what grows in it, but other things come to play too. you'll notice that crops aren't generally grown on exposed hillsides, it's usually in valley areas.

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#882255 - 09/09/2010 15:25 Re: grass and soil [Re: ant]
Goody Offline
Weather Freak

Registered: 04/08/2002
Posts: 734
Loc: Wagga District ...Where Crows ...
Hi there dcon

I think the answer to the first part of your question is yes as ant has so well pointed out.

Yes again to recognise the grass but sorry I being in NSW do not know what it is. I would hazard a guess though that the small blocks in town simply have not had any stock to eat them out like the paddocks in photo 2. In this photo the paddock on the left looks to me to have had heavy grazing, whilst the one on the right and foreground have had grazing as well but not near as heavy.

Then to a point yes again for your last question, it is known that certain plants/weeds (usually) will grow in a known soil fertility level be it high or low.
Native grasses I think grow in soils of low nitrogen levels with high carbon. The rule of your thumb is pretty much right as well.
Happy trails !

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#882301 - 09/09/2010 19:50 Re: grass and soil [Re: Goody]
ROM Offline
Meteorological Motor Mouth

Registered: 29/01/2007
Posts: 6628
Just had a quick look at those photos.
1st photo
The town photo has Dock, [ dark seed heads, left side] a well known weed with a very bulbous root system which gives it some very strong staying power against chemicals and cultivation and grows in the higher rainfall areas.
Plus one of the native Phalaris [ seed heads right side] species, a reasonable grazing plant when young and tender and which also only grows in areas where the soil stays very wet for extended periods.
The introduced Phalaris varieties are good stock feed and are used in the southern high rainfall areas.
They won't survive in areas where there are long periods of dry and heat .

Also Wild Oats as can be seen with the light white indistinct seed heads .
The Wild Oat seed heads have already shed their seeds, something that Wild Oats are notorious for as get in early, get ripe early and set your seed and then spread it quick before the harvesters come through and take you out!

All of the plants / grasses identified in that town photo are very common and very competitive weeds found where there are reasonable quality loamy to heavy soils with high rainfall and a high PH ; ie the higher rainfall alkaline soils.
They are all an expensive pain it the arse for grain cropping farmers in the heavier soil and wetter grain growing regions.

The grasses and etc in that town photo have never been eaten down on that small plot and have just grown there and will create another of the usual small town serious fire hazards when they fully dry off.
One still alight ciggie in there and the lot goes when it gets dry.

2nd photo;
The land on the right is an old and recently felled timber or tree plantation.
It doesn't appear to have any serious number of animals grazing it as the grasses there appear to be just the small native grasses that grow on poorer, gravel and broken down granite and rocky origin soils.
In other words some pretty harsh country unlike the town photo soils.

The land on the left going up to the hill top looks like sown pasture mixed in with native pasture.
This pasture has been very heavily grazed in the last few days as it is very short and eaten right down with animal turds all over it.
From the size of those turds, it almost looks like roo turds but they are probably from a large framed english breed of sheep with some roo doings amongst them.
The actual pasture species are probably a mix of some of the sub clovers, a common species in the Adelaide Hills and a species that needs and thrives in the higher rainfall areas and that need neutral to slightly acidic soils to grow in, conditions which this coarse soiled hill side probably meet.
A small patch of most likely to be Subterranean Clover can be seen in the small green patch immediately in front of the camera which has dead leaves from the tree strewn across it and which is on this side of the old decrepit gate.

Just an old farmer's assessment and an interesting exercise to try and sort it all out from just a couple of photos.


Edited by ROM (09/09/2010 19:54)

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#882336 - 09/09/2010 23:04 Re: grass and soil [Re: ROM]
dcon Offline
Weather Freak

Registered: 27/01/2009
Posts: 464
Loc: S.E. Suburbs, Adelaide |
I really appreciate all you guys taking the time to reply to my post, and helping a total newcomer to understand 'whats going on' in both of those different landscapes which were quite close together. Thanks especially ROM for the 555 words of wisdom in your post.

Some time in the future, when I have saved up enough money, i hope to buy a small acreage and start some kind of horticultural business, possibly an orchard or later down the track (cause its more work intensive) a nursery with display gardens. I guess the sooner i can start asking knowledgeable people who have lived on or near the land all their life, the better; so that in 5-8 years time when the time comes to start choosing a property I have a knowledge base behind me. your absolutely right about the high rainfall too, birdwood is in the above 800 mm rainfall zone.

So the first property would be better for fruit trees, if there was a good water supply, once some serious action had been taken on the weeds. it also wouldnt be as windy down in the valley I guess and cooler in our hot summer nights.

So thanks for replying, Ive got 5 years in which to build up some kind of knowledge base, so as new questions come to mind I will probably post them on here...

cheers, David.
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cheers david
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#882393 - 10/09/2010 10:20 Re: grass and soil [Re: dcon]
ROM Offline
Meteorological Motor Mouth

Registered: 29/01/2007
Posts: 6628
David, I don't know your circumstances but why not get bit of work as a casual or out of hours work with a one of the retail outfits that sell garden and open area plants, shrubs, trees and etc or better, an extra time, casual job with a plant nursery to pick up a lot of know how and even more important, the contacts to learn from and who and what will be your market contacts if you follow your dream.

This is when the hard realities start, when you decide that you will have a go and this is the time that you should start laying the groundwork for that dream for the future.
If you start doing this now, then your chances of both following that dream and the hardest part, making a success of your dream will be much, much easier if you have already have some hard headed and practical background knowledge and know your advice sources and marketing contacts before you even set off on that journey.

The best of luck in your dream but be sure to work "smart" to make it happen.

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#882433 - 10/09/2010 14:05 Re: grass and soil [Re: ROM]
dcon Offline
Weather Freak

Registered: 27/01/2009
Posts: 464
Loc: S.E. Suburbs, Adelaide |
yes, that is certainly part of my plan. As spring approaches, I am going around to some nurseries seeing if they take on extra people over the spring/early summer period when nursery work is at its biggest. I have taken the time to talk to these people as well, which has been particularly valuable and will be valuable for future networking.

Some of them have been quite positive about the possibility of some work over the spring period, and have said to drop a resume in. I am going to wait until they are snowed under in the middle of their spring rush and then go around with some resumes. I have done some work for one nursery (sadly, they are in the process of closing down because the owners have to retire) and made some friendships with the owners, who are very knowledgeable and experienced. That experience only strengthened my desire, I feel a 'rightness' when I am doing stuff to do with gardening that my civil engineering course/job does not give me. The civil engineering is to earn enough money to buy a property and set up a business.

Thanks for all the advice, and youve encouraged me that I am on the right path by trying to have 'two jobs', doing nursery work while I am doing engineering.

Cheers, David
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cheers david
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#882444 - 10/09/2010 15:22 Re: grass and soil [Re: dcon]
ant Offline
Meteorological Motor Mouth

Registered: 05/10/2002
Posts: 9063
Loc: Overlooking ACT at 848m
Have you checked out what's available at TAFE? For orcharding, you're going to need some pretty specific knowledge, market gardening too. You might be able to join one of the trade courses, or they might have "short" courses going.

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#882464 - 10/09/2010 16:41 Re: grass and soil [Re: ant]
dcon Offline
Weather Freak

Registered: 27/01/2009
Posts: 464
Loc: S.E. Suburbs, Adelaide |
yeah...thanks for the idea ant, I hadnt really thought specifically of that...Do you know if there would be night classes in that kind of thing? I was kind of thinking about doing some online course, but I really have no idea what courses have no value and which courses are the real stuff. Any suggestions would be much appreciated...and I will talk to the owner of the nursery I mentioned in the last post. thanks guys for taking the time to reply,

Cheers, David
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cheers david
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#882506 - 10/09/2010 21:50 Re: grass and soil [Re: dcon]
ant Offline
Meteorological Motor Mouth

Registered: 05/10/2002
Posts: 9063
Loc: Overlooking ACT at 848m
check out your Adelaide TAFEs. That's the best way to get proper training. Some nurseries have qualified people working in them, other do not. Orcharding is quite complex, there's a lot in it. You want hands-on teaching, doing it by corro or by book really isn't optimal.

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#895189 - 01/11/2010 23:01 Re: grass and soil [Re: ant]
dcon Offline
Weather Freak

Registered: 27/01/2009
Posts: 464
Loc: S.E. Suburbs, Adelaide |
hi...got another photo...still pursuing the dream in a roundabout way. I havent got time to go to tafe this year cause ive got an engineering job, so I will probably try and do a tafe course next year after I graduate and before I go out to work permanently. anyway, came across this photo of some grass, was wondering what it is and is it good feed for sheep.
It comes from an iris nursery in the adelaide hills, absolutely lovely place at this time of the year. rest of the photos are here and a couple of photos of my garden are here
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cheers david
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#895260 - 02/11/2010 12:32 Re: grass and soil [Re: dcon]
ROM Offline
Meteorological Motor Mouth

Registered: 29/01/2007
Posts: 6628
Far left side; sown and grazed pasture. Looks like quite reasonable sheep tucker.

Fence line; Predominately Brome Grass; a rather nasty and very competitive grass that has adapted to cultivation and is invasive and has become very wide spread.
There are two main pest species of Brome in cropping areas and the above looks like it is very similar to those pest species particularly as the livestock have grazed the pasture along side of and in the same paddock as the Brome but have not made any impression on that Brome Grass
Very poor nutritional value and also fairly resistant to most grass herbicides.
I can still remember when it first appeared in our area in the Wimmera [ Vic ] about the early 1970's.
Nobody took any notice of it until it began to become a pest.
The seeds will cling to animal hair and will then burrow their way down into the animal's flesh.
My old dog, now very sadly gone, used to come and lay down for me to go through his coat after he had wandered through some brome grass.
On more than one occasion I missed a seed for a few days and then i had to get a tweezers to dig down into the wound to try and find that seed.
The old dog just lay there whimpering in pain while I groped around in the wound but when I got that brome grass seed out he would give me a big doggie lick and doggie hug!

RH paddock is covered with what looks like rough and relatively low nutritional value grasses except when they, like most grasses , are still very small for the first few weeks after emergence and quite edible to livestock.
Possible reasonable cattle feed as is but slower growing and they do not have the bulk production for sustained stocking.
Lots of Brome scattered through that RH paddock as well.

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#1210929 - 21/09/2013 00:26 Re: grass and soil [Re: dcon]
ethanhh george Offline
Cloud Gazer

Registered: 16/01/2013
Posts: 11
It's obvious that quality soil with required ingredients improve plant growth than low quality soil such as sandy or rocky soil.

So, In fertile soil plant grows well than lower quality soil.

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#1211173 - 23/09/2013 07:05 Re: grass and soil [Re: dcon]
Farm Weather Offline
Weather Freak

Registered: 10/11/2009
Posts: 845
Loc: West Mallee SA
mt Crawford get far more rain and birdwood is tough country
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#1379128 - 14/06/2016 15:06 Re: grass and soil [Re: dcon]
Allen Kang Offline
Cloud Gazer

Registered: 06/06/2016
Posts: 2
I completely agree with @ant

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