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University of Namibia (2011)

Assessment of vegetation diversity and rangeland condition in the Highveld communal grazing lands of Swaziland

Mapako Leslie

Titre : Assessment of vegetation diversity and rangeland condition in the Highveld communal grazing lands of Swaziland

Auteur : Mapako Leslie

Université de soutenance : University of Namibia

Grade : Master of Science 2011

Résumé
Determination of correct stocking rate based on current rangeland condition still remains a big challenge to livestock farmers. Assessment of vegetation diversity and current rangeland condition was carried out in four communal rangelands, namely Siphocosini, Hawane, Motshane and Nkhaba. The rangeland condition assessment method employed in this study was the ecological condition index (ECI) method. Grass species composition and dry matter were estimated using the point-intercept method and the direct harvest method using a metal frame (quadrat) respectively. Vegetation diversity was high. A total of 16 grass species were identified. Of these, 9 species were strong perennials and the remaining 7 were annuals. In addition, 5 species were identified as highly palatable, 6-moderately palatable and 4-less palatable species The proportion of highly, moderately and less palatable grass species were significantly different (P0.05) among the grazing areas. Four grass species were common in the four rangelands and they are Digitaria ternata, Paspalum scrobiculatum, Eragrostis plana and grass like species. Soil pH ranged between 4.3-4.98. Soil N ranged between 0.11 and 0.13. The Ca content varied between 1.4 cmolc Kg-1 and 4.28 cmolc Kg-1. Dry matter yield at Motshane, Siphocosini and Nkhaba was significantly higher than that at Hawane. Frequency of bare patchiness differed significantly (P0.05) among the rangelands. The rangeland condition was found to be fair and the actual stocking rate was 0.4 HA/LSU in contrast to the recommended stocking rate of 3-4 HA/LSU. This is indicative of serious overstocking that usually leads to rangeland degradation.Reduction of livestock numbers and rangeland rehabilitation programme should be initiated to address the current problem in these communal grazing areas

Mots clés : Rangeland — Swaziland — Vegetation diversity — communal grazing land — grasslands

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Page publiée le 6 août 2015, mise à jour le 15 février 2018