What is Grassland Science?

Grassland Science entails the study of all aspects regarding the utilisation, conservation, and improvement of rangeland and cultivated pastures. In South Africa, rangeland is the cornerstone of stock and game farming under extensive conditions and contributes significantly to the economy of this country. The education of grassland scientists is essential for sustainable animal production on rangeland and cultivated pastures. Grassland Science not only plays an important role in the increasing demand for meat and other animal products, but also makes a large contribution to soil and nature conservation, game farming, and the future of game parks, which are important for the tourism industry.

Objectives of Grassland Science:

  • Supplying food to the extensive farming industry: It is important to bear in mind that in South Africa, the natural veld (rangeland) takes up approximately 80% of the land area, while more or less 1% is covered with cultivated pastures. Grazing or veld as natural resource is thus an important national asset. Approximately 65% of the veld or grazing is situated in a semi-arid area with an average annual rainfall of 500 mm or less, and is only fit for extensive stock and game farming. The Faculty of Agriculture at the UFS is situated within this semi-arid area – an ecologically sensitive area requiring specific expertise as far as utilisation and management are concerned. This expertise can be supplied by the Grassland Science division. The natural veld (rangeland) forms the backbone of the extensive stock-farming industry and is the cheapest source of forage; thus anything that can harm its potential should be counteracted and solutions should be found. Game farming is also becoming increasingly important and in many areas it is replacing stock farming.
  • Intensive pasture production: With the high risks and input costs involved in the production of agricultural crops, cultivated pastures and the utilisation thereof by animals become increasingly important, especially on lower-potential soils in the semi-arid areas.
  • Soil conservation: For decades, the veld has been subjected to large-scale deterioration with progressive desertification processes increasingly coming to the fore. In many places, bush encroachment has reached such proportions that it has forced established stock-farming enterprises to change to other kinds of farming. A large portion of the veld is in such a bad state that it is impossible to increase meat production. The only way in which to achieve an increase is either to improve the present condition of the veld or to produce more meat from cultivated pastures. In order to combat soil erosion and the accompanying silt and water pollution problems, the conservation of the veld has to rank high on the priority list.
  • Conservation of the environment: Grassland Science greatly contributed towards the conservation of the environment. Here special mention must be made of the aesthetic value of the environment, where game parks/climate/soil, plant/animal/human interactions are studied. In Grassland Science, all of these components are combined in the term grassland ecosystem.
  • Training in the Grassland Science division is aimed at delivering excellent scientists that can:
    • serve in various professions involved with agricultural science;
    • conduct outstanding research which can contribute to the proper utilisation of the grazing ecosystem;
    • serve the farming community by promoting sound management grazing systems for the proper utilisation and conservation of the grazing ecosystem in order to ensure sustainable production;
    • promote interdisciplinary collaboration with different agricultural institutions
  • How these objectives are achieved:
    • Education
    • Research
    • Community service

FACULTY CONTACT

Faculty Manager: Ms Lee-Ann Frazenburg
T: +27 51 401 3199
E: damonsle@ufs.ac.za

Marketing Manager: Mrs Elfrieda Lötter
T: +27 51 401 2531
E: lottere@ufs.ac.za

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