- Provides a good groundcover.
- Grows on infertile soils.
- Adapted to hard-setting soils.
- Competes well with weeds.
- Produces good quality forage.
- Tolerates heavy grazing.
- Awned seed, difficult to harvest, handle and sow.
- Low growing and accumulates small quantity of forage for dry season.
- Becomes unpalatable after flowering.
- Competes strongly with legumes.
- Stand reduced to individual tufts in severe drought exposing land to soil erosion.
Stems: Stolons commonly red or pink, rooting down at nodes. Nodes hairless or hairy. Stems erect, or prostrate becoming erect.
Leaves: Grey-green in colour, the blades 5 - 10 cm long, 2.5 - 5 mm wide. Leaf blade surface is usually hairless except for a few sparse hairs at the base.
Seedhead: Comprise 3 - 8 branches arising from different points on a central axis, 1 - 3 cm long, and purplish in colour.
Seeds: Often pitted, with a sharply bent and twisted awn, 10-18 mm long; 1.0 - 1.5 million seeds/kg.
Pasture type and use
Indian bluegrass is suitable as a permanent pasture on poorer soils. It can be cut for hay. It is used for erosion control, reseeding eroded land, waterways, revegetating mine waste and for lawns, sown by seed or from sprigs.
Where it grows
It is usually sown in areas receiving 600 - 900 mm/yr, but is naturalised in areas outside these limits.
It is adapted to low fertility, acid to alkaline soils, from sands to clays. It colonises poorer soils when tufted grasses succumb to heavy grazing.
It grows during the warm season and tops are killed by heavy frost.
Grasses: sabi grass, queensland blue couch.
Sowing/planting rates as single species
2 - 3 kg/ha.
Sowing/planting rates in mixtures
1 - 2 kg/ha.
While it can be sown from spring to late summer, it is best sown in spring when annual weeds are minimal, or in mid-summer if spring fallow is required to minimise annual grass and broadleaf weeds before sowing.
No fertiliser is required for establishment on suitable soils.
It has a low requirement for plant nutrients for stand persistence, with production usually limited by moisture availability. Suitable soils rarely need additional phosphorus but nitrogen fertiliser increases production, especially on run-down cropping land. Sulphur may be needed on some basalt soils if high rates of nitrogen are applied.
It is suitable for grazing and hay production.
Seed can be harvested by header or brush harvester. Seed yields of 100 - 150 kg/ha can be obtained. Fertiliser application of 100 kg N/ha is required for good seed yield.
Ability to spread
It spreads by seed and expands by long stolons that root down at nodes.
It is regarded as a weed of pastures in some areas, although this is usually a symptom of declining fertility and heavy grazing.
No major pests known.
Rust and ergot are observed in some varieties or naturalised ecotypes but cause only minor problems in grazed swards or in seed crops.
It is killed by glyphosate and is tolerant of atrazine.
Quality declines with increasing maturity, especially after flowering. Crude protein levels in young leaf may be 12% but as low as 3% in mature pasture.
It is particularly well eaten when young and leafy but not so well when mature.
Generally low yields of 1 - 5 t/ha DM are achieved, because of the poor soils on which it is naturalised or on which it is sown in lower rainfall environments. Cattle produce from 80 - 140 kg liveweight gain/hd/yr at about 1 steer/ha.
No toxicity has been reported.
Author and date
Dr. Walter Scattini