'Rattle & Roll' - Yellow Rattle Trials in the Outback


Yellow rattle (Rhinanthus minor) is known as the ‘meadow maker’. It’s a native yellow wildflower whose seed pods rattle, hence the name. Its magic lies in its roots. They attach to the roots of grasses and steal their nutrients and some of their water. The effect is to reduce the dominance of grasses and allow space for other wildflowers and plants to grow.

We don’t have any Yellow Rattle in the Outback: it would have flowered by now and the majority of the field has strong tussocky grass, ‘improved pasture’. So, I bought some fresh seed for a trial area. The NW corner of the field has the least adjacent trees and I believe would be the longest to develop shrub / tree cover. This is the area in the management plan for this trial.

A trial area was strimmed as closely as possible. Then we got the lawn mower out and did our best to scalp the grass, then it needed another strim and rake for good measure. We wanted some bare earth. The seed was then scattered over this area. The shorter grass allows the seed to get down to the soil and the rain will pin it to the earth and enable germination. This area has been marked by posts so next year and in the following years the germination rate and then the impact of this annual plant on plant variety in the sward can be monitored and evaluated. Hopefully, next year, I will be able to collect some of my own seed and spread it further across the Outback.