Strickland Fingergrass

Scientific name(s)
Digitaria milanjiana


  • Vigorous and productive.
  • Highly palatable when young.
  • High quality when young.
  • Drought


  • Mostly intolerant of poor drainage.
  • Can become stemmy during the growing season.
  • Sensitive to frost.
  • Not tolerant of heavy continuous grazing.

Plant description

Plant: A vigorous stoloniferous perennial grass.

Stems: (a) Prostrate stolons generally up to 5 m long. These readily root at the nodes to produce new plants.

Leaves: Leaf blades are 15 – 30 cm long, and 3 – 13 mm wide. Leaves can be hairy.

Seeds: Seeds are extremely small and hairy. Approximately 2 million/kg.

Seedhead: Inflorescences up to 2.5 m high. It consists of 2 – 18 spikes in a subdigitate panicle.

Pasture type and use

It is mainly sown as a permanent pasture for grazing, or for hay. They can be used as pasture ley to control nematodes in banana plantations.

Where it grows

550 – 1,700 mm/year. Once established, it is can survive droughts.

It grows on a range of soils from sandy soils to heavy cracking clay soils. It grows well on well drained clay loam soils. Withstand waterlogging, but not flooding.

While the species is well adapted to the semi-arid tropics, the different cultivars are adapted to different conditions. ‘Strickland’ is better adapted to the subtropics, and colder and drier conditions than the other cultivars.

It is tolerant of fire, and recovers after burning.


Companion species
Grasses: It is best sown as a single grass as more palatable than other tropical grasses.

Legumes: Those which can be used in mixtures include Carbon Buster™ stylo, Glenn, Lee, Wynn, Cavalcade, Bundey, Milgarra, Amiga, Verano, Seca and Siran.

Sowing/planting rates as single species
1 – 4 kg/ha using bare seed. 3 to 12 kg/ha coated seed depending on coat weight. Fresh seed can be dormant for up to 6 months after harvest.

Sowing/planting rates in mixtures
1 – 2 kg/ha using bare seed. 3 to 9 kg/ha coated depending on coat weight.

Sowing time
Early in the growing season after good opening rains, when there is likelihood of follow up rains. In the semi-arid tropics, this will range from the first week of December in higher rainfall areas (1500 mm plus) to the third week of December in lower rainfall areas (1000 mm).

Responds strongly to nitrogen and phosphorus. Generally apply 100 – 250 kg/ha of superphosphate or its equivalent at establishment. In the semi-arid tropics, apply nitrogen at 25 – 50 kg/ha to grazed pastures and at 100 – 200 kg/ha to hay crops. Applications of potassium, molybdenum, zinc or other deficient elements may be necessary on some soils.


Maintenance fertiliser
In the semi-arid tropics, generally apply 50 – 100 kg/ha of superphosphate or its equivalent. Apply nitrogen at 25 – 50 kg/ha to grazed pastures and at 100 – 200 kg/ha to hay crops.

It should not be grazed in the season of establishment before it has had the time to develop a strong root system. In the semi-arid tropics, it should be only lightly grazed in its first dry season.

Ability to spread
Good. It produces new plants from stolons and seed. It generally does not spread out of sown paddocks. Some disturbance, such as a rough cultivation is the minimum requirement to ensure establishment.

Weed potential
Low. Evaluated with a low weed risk by the Northern Territory Weed Risk Assessment method.

Major pests
None recorded.

Major diseases
None recorded.

Herbicide susceptibility
Yield is reduced by low rates of Diuron. Atrazine should be used for the control annual grasses.

Tolerant of selective herbicides used to control broadleaf weeds.

Animal production

Feeding value
High quality grass. Crude protein (CP) of tops during the wet season (January – March) is often 12 – 15%. This drops to 2 – 4 % CP late in the dry season in the semi-arid tropics. In vitro digestibility of tops can be as high as 76 %, but is more commonly 68 – 70 % during the growing season and drops to 45 – 55 % during the dry season.

Extremely palatable to all types of stock and horses as green feed, dry feed or hay. Wallabies also find them extremely palatable.

Production potential
Without applications of nitrogen fertiliser dry matter yields are generally 4 – 6 tonnes/ha. With the application of 100 – 200 kg/ha of nitrogen, yields are 10 – 15 tonnes/ha.

Livestock disorders/toxicity
None recorded.