Pasture Dieback

Pasture dieback is a condition that causes the premature death of high yielding tropical and sub-tropical grasses. Improved (or sown) grass species are mainly affected however some native species have also been reported, whereas broadleaf plants (e.g weeds or legumes) are unaffected by this condition.

Pasture dieback affects grass pastures in eastern areas of Queensland, and north-eastern New South Wales, generally in regions that receive more than 600 mm average rainfall (see map below). The death of grasses initially appears in patches but can spread to large areas and whole paddocks within one growing season. The first symptoms include leaf discolouration (reddening and or yellowing) and unthrifty growth. Once dead, the affected area is commonly colonised by broad leaf weeds or legumes. Recent research has demonstrated several successful management options for paddocks affected by pasture dieback.

General location of pasture dieback (lime green and blue areas) as of April 2023.
Left: Buffel grass pasture affected by dieback. Central QueenslandRight: Roadside pasture affected by pasture dieback. Central Queensland
Left: Bisset creeping bluegrass affected by pasture dieback. South QueenslandRight: Signal grass affected by pasture dieback. North Queensland.

Identification

Pastures are initially affected in patches and exhibit leaf reddening, yellowing, or both. As the condition progresses, poor growth, early senescence, and eventual death occur. Depending on rainfall, this process can occur quickly within one summer season. With subsequent rainfall, broadleaf weeds and or legumes commonly colonise the affect area (as seen in photos above). For reliable diagnosis other potential causes of the observed symptoms need to be ruled out.

For more help on identifying pasture dieback, use this Pasture Dieback ID guide produced by NSW DPI and DAF, read this article about pasture dieback signs and symptoms and watch this video.

 

Management options 

Recent research conducted by the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries team has demonstrated successful management options are available to restore pasture productivity.

Click here to read the LATEST Pasture Dieback Management Factsheet.

Read this fact sheet on choosing grass varieties tolerant to pasture dieback produced by Meat & Livestock Australia (MLA).

Click here to read about how a producer in Central QLD has been managing Pasture Dieback.

Watch the video’s below for Pasture Dieback Management options.

 

 

Listen to a podcast episode with DAF’s Stuart Buck and Kylie Hopkins and grazier Owen Price about managing pasture dieback in the Arcadia Valley.

 

 

View the latest webinar on Pasture Dieback: Outcomes from 7 years of DAF research, development and extension across Queensland.

 

 

Also, you could read the Pasture Dieback Management Guide produced by MLA.

Pasture dieback management manual (MLA)

 

Report pasture dieback

Want to help us understand dieback better? Use our free app to report pasture dieback

Event summaries

 

Pasture Dieback Industry Network

The Pasture Dieback Industry Network (PDIN) was created in 2020 to help connect graziers and ag professionals to the latest DAF research and events. The network finished in 2022 however click here to read more about the PDIN and the previous e-newsletters sent to the group.

Industry updates

March 2022 – Pasture dieback update

April 2021 – Darling Downs – Pasture dieback watch!

May 2020 – Pasture dieback in Qld (webinar delivered with NSW DPI)

April 2020 – Rigorous research to determine pasture dieback causal agent

February 2019 – Latest insights into pasture dieback (webinar)

May 2017 – Pasture dieback situation report

 

DAF and MLA’s co-funded Pasture Dieback projects

Between 2020 and 2022 DAF and MLA delivered two co-funded projects addressing pasture dieback. The first was aimed at diagnosing the cause and the other aimed to help producers identify and manage the condition. Read more the final reports from these projects for more details:

 

Conference papers

ConferencePublicationAuthor
Northern Beef Research Update Conference, Darwin NT, 22-25 August 2023
Effective management options for pasture diebackStuart Buck, Polani Shadur, Paul Jones, and Kylie Hopkins
Northern Beef Research Update Conference, Darwin NT, 22-25 August 2023
Assessing pasture dieback with a dronePolani Shadur, Stuart Buck, Kylie Hopkins, and Paul Jones
Northern Beef Research Update Conference, Darwin NT, 22-25 August 2023
Pasture development using the Action Learning Cycle: A case studyKylie Hopkins, Polani Shadur, Paul Jones, and Stuart Buck
20th Australian Agronomy Conference, Toowoomba QLD, 18-22 September 2022Management solutions for pasture dieback: Outcomes of field researchStuart Buck, Nicholas Brazier, and David Reid
34th Australian Association of Animal Sciences Conference, Cairns QLD, 5-7 July 2022 Targeted industry engagement was spot-on for pasture diebackKylie Hopkins, Nicholas Brazier, Katie Thomas, and Stuart Buck.
33rd Biennial Conference of the Australian Association of Animal Sciences, Perth, WA, 1-3 February 2021The resurgence of pasture dieback in northern AustraliaStuart Buck, Nicholas Brazier, Terry Beutel, and Lara Landsberg
33rd Biennial Conference of the Australian Association of Animal Sciences, Perth, WA, 1-3 February 2021Characterising pasture dieback: Analysis of the current situation in northern AustraliaNicholas Brazier and Stuart Buck
Northern Beef Research Update Conference, Brisbane QLD, 19-22 August 2019
The re-emergence of dieback in pastures across Queensland Stuart Buck

 

Queensland Pasture Resilience Program

If you are looking for more support to help manage country affected by pasture dieback, you might be interested in the Queensland Pasture Resilience Program, a partnership between DAF, Meat & Livestock Australia (MLA) and the Australian Government through the MLA Donor Company.