Grading grasslands might seem like the complete opposite of what should happen when you want native grasses to thrive, but an exciting new project beginning on sections of the Dunkeld-Penshurst Road next week is using the technique.
From Monday, 3 May, travelers and locals will notice machinery ‘scalping’ the roadside grasslands on section of the Dunkeld – Penshurst Rd, south of Back Creek.
“The thing we want people to know is – we are deliberately grading these particular areas of grasslands – they shouldn’t panic thinking anyone is destroying these very important grassland areas,” Glenelg Hopkins CMA Senior NRM Planner, Aggie Stevenson, said.
Contrary to how it appears, heavy machinery clearing the area is actually a proven technique to ensure the weed infested grasslands can be restored to native grasses, Aggie said.
The pilot project, supported by Glenelg Hopkins CMA through funding from the Australian Government’s National Landcare program, is being completed in partnership with Regional Roads Victoria, South West Maintenance Alliance, and La Trobe University, and will reconnect high quality native grasslands using a scalping technique pioneered in the region over a decade ago.
“These high quality areas are currently isolated by smaller Phalaris dominated sections of roadside,” Aggie said.
“These weedy areas not only pose a potential weed risk to the native grassland, but also stop species movement between each native grassland remnant.”
Aggie explained the process of ‘scalping’ will begin on Monday with Regional Roads Victoria using graders and front-end loaders to remove the top portion of soil.
“Scalping involves the removal of the top 150mm of soil, thereby removing almost all weed seed and soil nutrients, which aren’t conducive to native grassland species - using graders and front-end loaders.