Report on the lands of the Ord River catchment, Northern Territory
by J. M. Aldrick, D. F. Howe and C. R. Dunlop.
Aldrick, J. M.; Howe, D. F. (David F.); Dunlop, C. R. (Clyde Robert)
E-Publications; E-Books; PublicationNT; 78/24
Made available via the Publications (Legal Deposit) Act 2004 (NT).
Date:1978; Bibliographhy: p. 103.
Land use -- Northern Territory -- Ord River Region
Animal Industry & Agriculture Branch, Dept. of the Northern Territory
109 p., p. of plates : ill., maps ; 29 cm.
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V. A. VEGETATION By C.R. Dunlop Grasslands (a) Grasslands on cracking clay soils (i) Clay soils of volcanic origin. Perry (1960) describes these ~rasslands as "Barley Mitchell Grass and other Perennial Grasses". At the time of the survey, these pastures had so deteriorated from overgrazing that barley mitchell grass was rarely seen; of the other perennials mentioned, only Chrysopogon fallax could be described as commonly present on the plains, but then only as sparsely scattered butts. As cattle have been in the area for approximately eighty years (stewart et al 1970) and these grasslands are obviously selectively grazed, any description of the original composition would be mainly speculative. Ferry's description of the community states that several tussock grasses are present (co-dominant), including Astrebla pectinata, Panicum spp. and Dichanthium fecundum while others (Eulalia fulva, Chrysopogon fallax, Heteropogon contortus and Sehima nervosum) are less common. The tussocks are 30 to 100 cm apart and amongst them grow annual grasses (Brachyachne convergens etc.) and forbs (sixteen listed) . Whether or not this is a faithful picture of the pristine state on the clay plains of volcanic origi~ is open to question. To the author, it would seem to be a description of a pasture which has sustained more than half a century of grazing and has been held below its climax condition. When compared with other perennial grasslands in the area on other clays, the widely spaced tussocks (up to 1m.) would seem anomalous. The number of forbs mentioned as occurring with the grasses seems to be inordinate for a community such as this under normal stable conditions. These invader species would be few, widely scattered and not easily noticed. Perry's description then, is probably a stage in, as Robinson (1971) puts it, a degradational continuum. Wherever clay plains of volcanic origin were seen, they were uniformly degraded, being either bare or colonised by various forbs, the most common of which were: Moghania pauciflora, Abutilon otocarpum, Jacquemontia browniana, Abelmoschus ficulneus, Sida sp., Trichodesma zeylanicum, Rhynchosia minima. - 43
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