A native grass once harvested by Indigenous of us, however these days more often uncared for as a roadside weed, could originate the resolution to restoring land exhausted by farming, researchers say.
- Kangaroo Grass is regularly found on roadsides and in paddocks being eaten by cattle
- The grass is resistant to prolonged drought and excessive changes in temperature
- The research mission is asking at whether or no longer Kangaroo Grass could be produced on a mass scale by Australian farmers
As a teenager Dylan Male felt helpless as he watched his family battle via the Millennium drought on their southern New South Wales farm.
“The sheep gathering around dams which had dwindled to no more than a mere puddle and all the crops withering away,” he said.
“As a kid I felt powerless to attain anything, however as I grew up I rapidly realised I could make contributions to overcoming the challenges facing our farmers.”
One of those solutions could lie with kangaroo grass, a native species found on roadsides and in paddocks, where it is eaten by cattle.
As soon as harvested by Indigenous groups, Mr Male said the grass was resistant to prolonged drought as neatly as excessive changes in temperature and rainfall.
“Many reasons have contributed to this spark in passion in the community, however most notably the greater recognition of Aboriginal food production programs sooner than European arrival.”
Mr Male is doing his PhD at La Trobe College in Bendigo and is investigating the agronomy and ecology of Indigenous food plant species.
The mission is a partnership with the Dja Dja Wurrung Aboriginal Clans Corporation, which has acquired a $1.82 million Federal Government grant to research the viability of increasing kangaroo grass.
‘A new food crop’
Dja Dja Wurrung Project Manager Latarnie McDonald is a broken-down agronomist who has helped Mr Male sow several take a look at paddocks in central Victoria.
“Kangaroo Grass is fascinating, as it is perennial,” Ms McDonald said.
“We’re going out into the discipline and sampling tussocks of kangaroo grass that are plan to be neatly over 50 years veteran, if no longer older, and in case you noticed of Australian agriculture, you would be hard pressed to win one grass that has been alive for over 50 or 100 years.”
The mission will accelerate over the next four years and Ms McDonald said the goal is to eventually note kangaroo grass become a regular food source that is grown on a commercial scale.
“The ultimate goal is that we get actually an agronomy package,” she said.
“So we can develop kangaroo grass on unusual farms and contract develop that with various farmers and then form a lot of seed grain to revive grasslands that are degraded.”
The “ultimate goal”, Ms McDonald said, was to form “a new food crop.”
The mission team hoped the product could become a regular ingredient in foods like bread, cakes and biscuits.
“I really like the taste,” Ms McDonald said.
“Earlier research has found Kangaroo Grass has about 40 per cent more protein than your traditional venerable in bread.”
The Dja Dja Wurrung Aboriginal Clans hoped that the grass could make contributions to the healing of the land if it was produced on a large scale.
“Kangaroo grass forms a really dense tussock and its leaves bend outwards and offer protection to the soil,” Ms McDonald said.
“It creates its bear ecosystem.
“It helps to conserve more moisture and therefore you get a entire abundance of life that comes with that, like native insects and invertebrates.”