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University of Fort Hare (2018)

Evaluating farmers’ perceptions on climate variability and the impact of management practices on rangeland condition at Tukulu Farm, South Africa

Huza, Siphamandla

Titre : Evaluating farmers’ perceptions on climate variability and the impact of management practices on rangeland condition at Tukulu Farm, South Africa

Auteur : Huza, Siphamandla

Université de soutenance : University of Fort Hare

Grade : Masters of Science in Agriculture (Pasture Science) 2018

Résumé partiel
Rangelands are ecological systems largely used for extensive livestock production, which continually play a vital role in developing the economy of rural communities worldwide. These ecosystems also have the potential to provide vital secondary resources like medicinal plants, firewood and wild foods. This study assessed the impacts of management practices on rangeland condition at Tukulu communal farm in the Eastern Cape province of South Africa. Communal farmers’ perceptions were also investigated on vegetation change and awareness to climate variability. A structured questionnaire with open-ended and closed questions was used to interview communal farmers about several components of their rangeland, their awareness to climate variability and their household demographics were recorded. A rangeland condition assessment with the use of a three-tier system was used to determine vegetation condition and assessment of vegetal change over the past ten to twenty years. Botanical species composition, biomass yield, basal cover, woody plant density, browsing units and soil chemical composition were measured. Tukulu communal rangeland was demarcated into three homogenous vegetation units (HVU) namely, open grassland, scattered bushland and dense bushland. Sample sites of (100×50 m)2 with four replicates were constructed in each HVU. Herbaceous vegetation and basal cover were determined along 100 m transects in each sample site using a step-point method. Aboveground biomass production was estimated using a quadrat system following a systematic sampling by cutting all material within 0.25 m2 quadrats located along 100 m transects. Woody plant density (plants/ha), tree equivalents (TE/ha) and browsing unit (BU/ha) were estimated from the number of woody plants, total woody heights and the number of acceptable and available (<1.5 m) woody species. Soil sample analysis was conducted to determine OC, P, K, N, Ca, Mg, Na, Zn, Cu, and Mn and soil pH in all three HVUs. The respondents consisted of 65 percent males and 35 percent females with an average of about five persons per household. The study revealed that communal farmers at Tukulu were fairly knowledgeable about the changes that have occurred in their rangeland. All respondents 100 percent perceived that their rangeland had changed from good to poor condition. This was characterized by the shift from grass dominance to woody plant encroachment. These changes were linked to the perceived changes in climate. Farmers at Tukulu communal area were generally aware of the changes in climate, 95 percent of the respondents’ perceived changes in weather patterns such as changes in rain seasons, hot weather conditions, unpredictable rainfalls, drought, heavy winds and increased temperatures.

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