Consol is a tufted, perennial with drooping leaves mostly concentrated at the base of the plant to 30 or 50cm. Culms erect, mostly to 1.2m -1.8m tall, with fine, fibrous unbranched, stems, & glabrous nodes. Leaf blades variable in colour from bluish to green, curling at the tip when dry, minutely rough on both surfaces.
Native to Africa: Botswana, Kenya, Lesotho, Namibia, South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania, Mozambique, Zambia, Zimbabwe. Considered an important pioneer grass in its native habitat; not common in natural grasslands, but can be in dense populations in disturbed land e.g. trampled, heavily grazed or cultivation fallow. Used for pasture and hay. Also suitable for stabilisation of road verges and terraces, water discharge areas, and banks of earth tanks. Can be sown in strips for control of wind erosion.
Recommended planting rates for AgriCote Consol Lovegrass are:
- Marginal Dryland: 1 - 5Kg per Hectare
- Good Dryland: 8 - 10Kg per Hectare
- Irrigated: 12 - 15Kg per Hectare
A clean fine seedbed is essential for successful establishment. Seed can be broadcast or drilled, and covered to less than 1 cm. Rates of 1-5 kg/ha seed give good stands with broadcast sowings. An inter-row cultivation of row-planted Consol Lovegrass during the first year helps it compete with weeds, although this is not necessary in subsequent years. Row spacing can be from 0.6-1.2 m. Good seedling vigour and rapid early growth contribute to ease of establishment.
Management / Agronomy
Palatability is improved by fertilising with N. Leaves become very fibrous and difficult for stock to break off or digest. Unless slashed or burnt periodically, stems and leaves are not utilised by stock except under heavy grazing pressure or where there is no pasture choice. Growth starts early in the season and continues until quite late. As foliage becomes fibrous rapidly and seedheads emerge, it is important to mow or graze regularly. Periodic mowing is beneficial if cattle are not able to maintain sufficient grazing pressure . Prescribed burning is a practical and efficient management tool for maintaining stands. Herbage production and quality, density and uniformity of stand, and pasture utilisation are generally improved by burning. Rotational grazing is not necessary to maintain stands of Consol Lovegrass, although in some circumstances it can be helpful. Spreads readily into disturbed areas; often by roadside slashing, earthworks and motor vehicles.
Pest / Disease Resistance
Growing mostly in infertile soils under low rainfall, dry matter yields are generally low at 3-10 t/ha/year. However, in more favourable environments and with adequate nitrogen and sometimes irrigation, yields of 20-30 t/ha DM are achievable. Yields can be doubled by increasing cutting frequency from 4-8 weeks, and more than doubled through applications of 100-200 kg/ha N. Crude protein levels and IVDMD vary largely with age of material and nitrogen fertility of the soil. IVDMD values of 65% and 18%CP have been measured in young growth, compared with 50% and 6% in older material.
Values as low as 40% and 4% for standover material have been measured. Hay harvested about 10 days after seed head emergence, has values of the order of 60% and 11%. Animal Production Heifers stocked at about 12/ha have produced a liveweight gain of 550 kg/ha over summer, and sheep 53/ha over 130 days produced a liveweight gain of 160 kg/ha. At lower stocking rates (1.5 steers/ha), animals can gain 0.7-1 kg/day during the growing season.