Saturday, December 5, 2009

Buffel grass harvest – coming up Dec 13!

Buffel grass (Cenchrus ciliaris) is one of the worst threats to biodiversity in arid Australia – conversely it is also heralded as the saviour of pastoralists and perhaps both are true. What is true is that it is very common in and around Alice Springs and when left to grow rank, constitutes a major fire risk.

In 2001 fires in the vacant land around alice springs were an almost daily event. Buffel grass grew in the creeks, up the hills and all over the scree slopes to the base of cliffs on the tallest range in the area. After the heavy rains of that year buffel grass grew thickly and the natives filled the gaps between the tussocks. A large part of central Australia burned.

While all this happens gardeners happily drive off to the fodder store and load up their bales of hay (which have come at least 1500km) onto their utes for garden mulch. I have bought very few bales of imported mulch in my time – trying to make to with refuse from mine and other peoples gardens. However I have become increasingly interested in this wasted resource sitting on our doorstep, growing, burning and damaging vegetation as it does. Many an old gnarled river red gum has been burned to theground by fires started in couch and buffel grass along the river.

After many positive responses about the concept I decided to approach the Landcare group about a Buffel harvest where community members come together and solve several problems:
Remove an unwanted plant
Gather a locally available resource to mulch gardens and save water
Reduce their carbon footprint in the process.

One permaculture principles goes something like “the problem is the solution”
We take an unwanted plant and put it into a wanted space – suddenly we look at it a little differently
The process is probably going to consist of a small team of slashers and a larger team of sweepers. The sweepers load the mulch onto trailers and utes and deliver to local residents. Contact landcare or myself if you want to be involved…….


  1. Hi Chris,

    Geat idea. Count me in. Just one question though.. what about seeds? Even if the grass has finished seeding, how can we ensure that as we collect the cut grass that we are not importing seed into our area? See you at the harvest, Katj

  2. Hi Katja - Buffel in the garden - especially as seedlings is particularly easy to get rid of - much easer than many of teh otgher weeds i already have in the garden. its really only a problem to get rid of on a landscape scale.