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TitleEffects of Pteronia incana (Blue bush) invasion on grass biomass production, soil chemical characteristics and peoples" livelihoods in Ngqushwa communal rangelands, Eastern Cape
AuthorNtutha, T
SubjectInvasive plants -- South Africa -- Eastern Cape
SubjectShrublands -- South Africa -- Eastern Cape
SubjectRangelands -- South Africa -- Eastern Cape
Format109 leaves
AbstractThe objective of the study was to assess the farmers’ knowledge and perceptions of P. incana invasion and impacts on rangeland, livestock production and livelihood in four communal grazing areas. Twenty households per village that own livestock were randomly selected to conduct an interview using an open and closed ended questionnaire. In each household, an old and knowledgeable respondent about P. incana invasion was used as a selection criterion. For scientific assessment of range condition, the experiment was conducted in a 270 m x 100 m trial plots that were established in 2014. The area was divided into 3 open and 3 fenced subplots each having an area of 45 m x 100 m established laid down a slope gradient. Each plot was divided into four equal subplots to apply the control treatments. Therefore, the trial layout was a stratified block experiment of four treatments replicated three times. The four control treatments applied to P. incana invasion were chopping and resting (CR), resting without chopping (RWOC), grazing and chopping (GC), grazing without chopping (GWOC). A step point method was applied in each transect to monitor species composition and P. incana cover. On the fenced plots two exclosures of 1mx1m size were randomly distributed to make sure that resting is maintained. Within exclosures 0.25 m2quadrates in each were put randomly to measure biomass. Density of P. incana was determined from 5 m x 5 m quadrates that were placed randomly within each sub-plot. The density and height of individual shrub plant was measured. All rooted live woody plants were recorded and counted in each quadrate. The results revealed that species composition was not affected (P>0.05) by the treatments applied. The herbage height and basal cover had greater values (P<0.05) under rested plus chopping (CR) treatment followed by grazed plus chopping (GC). Grass biomass production and essential nutrients showed a greater concentration (P<0.05) under CR treatment than any treatments applied. The results on perceptions revealed that goats had the highest mean household holding number than any other livestock species across the selected villages in all the villages. Respondents indicated that both goats and cattle had equal or more importance than sheep. Three out of four villages raised cattle primarily for income generation and secondarily for cultural purposes like slaughtering during weddings ceremonies, amazila and also during woman circumcisions (Ntonjane). Similarly, goats and sheep were primarily raised for cash income generation. The results revealed that livestock population decreased over ten to twenty years (one-two decades) and poor rangeland condition is assumed to be the cause of the situation as feed is the key factor for production. The area was dominated by the grasses rather than by browse woody species so the above results are possible as the P. incana is more competitive than grasses. It was concluded that P. incana is detrimental to both rangeland and animal production. Forage and animal performance as well as farmers’ economic status (livelihoods) were negatively affected by P. incana invasion and the scientific assessment reported it to be detrimental to agriculture. Thus chopping and resting (CR) treatment resulted in a greater improvement of the basal cover, biomass production, soil nutrients as well as grass height than the other treatments applied. Therefore it can be concluded that chopping and resting the veld invaded with P. incana can improve the range and consequently animal production.
PublisherUniversity of Fort Hare
PublisherFaculty of Science & Agriculture