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Australian buffalo grass cultivars: managing turf for shade and water conservation

Australian buffalo grass cultivars: managing turf for shade and water conservation


Turf producers and managers need watering, mowing and fertiliser guidelines. In order to develop guidelines for buffalo grasses, plant responses to water, light, nutrition, wear and herbicides must be known. These responses can vary depending on the environment in which the turf is growing.

Researchers are working on a number of experiments to evaluate Australian buffalo grasses for their performance under a range of conditions and locations.


Full titleAdaptation and management of Australian buffalo grass and alternative warm-season turfgrass cultivars for shade and water conservation
DatesStart date: March 2006
End date: September 2009
Project leaderAlan Duff, 07 3286 1488
  • develop technical information in relation to the adaptation of the available buffalo grasses (Stenotaphrum secundatum) to water, light, nutrition, wear, and herbicides
  • assess weed control methods, as this is a common problem for turf managers and homeowners alike
  • monitor the adaptation and management of the grasses in a range of different environments
  • determine the grouping of closely-related cultivars.
BenefitsThe project will lead to the development of specific management guidelines, that will help the turf industry to better use and manage Australian buffalo grasses and other turfgrasses. These will include: irrigation, mowing, fertiliser application and weed control recommendations.
  • Examination of attributes, such as rate of lateral spread in relation to air and soil temperatures, and detailed stolon and inflorescence measurements, of 19 Stenotaphrum secundatum cultivars grown in spaced plant trials.
  • Recording of turf pests or disease outbreaks.
  • DNA profiling of turf cultivars.
  • Collection of data on clipping weights, visual quality and colour, disease incidence, turfgrass density, weed invasion and thatch development in relation to fertiliser and mowing treatments.
  • Collection of data on turfgrass responses (quality, colour and percentage bareground/wear) to wear and recovery from wear. The experiment will be run in different seasons under 50% shade.
  • Screening of a range of unregistered herbicides for broadleaf and grass weed control and rating of the level of any plant damage caused by the treatments. Initial pot trials in 50% shade will be followed by field trials in full sun, which will examine seasonal effects.
  • Comparative trials of buffalo grass cultivars, and in some locations kikuyu (Pennisetum clandestinum), ´Wintergreen´ (Cynodon dactylon), sweet smother (Dactyloctenium australe) and ´Shadegro´ (Panicum laxum), in shaded environments. Light levels and soil and air temperature data will be correlated with measurements of plant growth.
  • Following establishment of the trial, lysimeters will be used in the second year to measure water usage of buffalo grass cultivars Sapphire, Kings Pride, Matilda, Palmetto, Shademaster, Sir James, Sir Walter, ST-26, ST-91, TF01, WA common buffalo and Wintergreen green couch in response to three different irrigation treatments.
  • In the third year, data will be collected from the lysimeter study to determine the capacity of turf to recover after various periods of drought. A second lysimeter trial will investigate the effect of mowing height on turf water use and quality for two contrasting species.
  • The tolerance of buffalo grass to alkaline soil conditions and the ability of the grass to access micronutrients such as iron and manganese will be investigated on an alkaline soil in Western Australia.
  • Demonstration sites have been established with TAFE colleges, public open space managers and private developers in and around Brisbane, Sydney, Canberra and Melbourne. The sites will provide information on the adaptation of the grasses for specific uses and feedback will be provided by practicing turf managers on the effectiveness of management guidelines developed from the project.
Project staff
  • Alan Duff, Principal Experimentalist
  • Matt Roche, Senior Research Scientist
  • Cynthia Carson, Senior Extension Horticulturist.
FundingHorticulture Australia Ltd
Collaborating agenciesBuchanan Turf Pty Ltd, Brisbane City Council, Delfin Lend Lease, H & T Whiting Turfgrass Developer LLC, Matilda Trading Pty Ltd, Richmond Turf, Sod Solutions, Turfco Pty Ltd, Turf Force, Turf Producers´ Association of WA, Palmetto WA Group, Sir Walter WA Group
Research locations
  • Redlands Research Station
  • University of Western Australia, Perth
  • Various public and private sites across Australia.
Contact detailsphone: 13 25 23 (Queensland callers only)
+61 7 3404 6999 (interstate or international callers)


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