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27 March 2018 Photo Varsity Sports
Medals galore at second Varsity meeting Peter Makgato
Peter Makgato won the long jump title at the second Varsity athletics meeting in Pretoria with a winning jump of 7.56m.

The University of the Free State (UFS) had a successful second Varsity athletics meeting on Friday 23 March 2018 at the Tuks Athletics Stadium in Pretoria, dominating the long jump and middle distances. 

The 25 athletes achieved six gold and eight bronze medals. Although it’s just one more than what they earned at the first Varsity meeting at the beginning of the month, two more received gold. On 2 March 2018 the Free State students totalled four gold, six silver and three bronze medals. 

Although Yolandi Stander bagged a silver in the discus, it didn’t contribute to the Kovsies’ total. Stander competed for Tuks last year and the competition rules do not permit her to participate for another university in the following year.
 
Victories in middle distances and long jump
As was the case in the first meeting, the athletes running in the red colours of the Kovsies outsprinted the rest in the middle distances with three first places. Both Ruan Jonck (1:50.56) and Ts’epang Sello (2:10.42) defended their titles in the 800m for men and women respectively.

In the 1500m for women, Tyler Beling clocked a winning time of 04:33.48 with Lara Orrock following in third place (04:46.37). Both are just 18 years old. 

Both long-jump titles were decisive victories. Peter Makgato’s winning jump (7.56m) was 0.17m more than his closest competitor, and Maryke Brits (5.81m) won by 0.14m.

Three bronze medals were added in the field events; Nadia Meiring (47.10m) in the hammer throw) and Sefako Mokhosoa (15.29m, men) and Molebohang Pherane (11.67m, women) both in the triple jump. 

On the track Ané Erasmus (400m hurdles, 1:04.04), Hendrik Maartens (200m, 21.01) and Sokwakana Mogwasi (100m, 11.99) all ended in the third spot. 

The men’s varsity mixed medley relay won their race once again, and the men’s 4x100m relay finished third. 
The Kovsies ended fourth overall after the two meetings.

News Archive

Well-established root system important for sustainable production in semi-arid grasslands
2015-02-24

Plot layout where production and root studies were done
Photo: Supplied

The importance of a well-established root system for sustainable production in the semi-arid grasslands cannot be over-emphasised.

A study of Prof Hennie Snyman from the Department of Animal and Wildlife and Grassland Sciences at the University of the Free State is of the few studies in which soil-water instead of rainfall has been used to estimate above- and below-ground production of semi-arid grasslands. “In the past, plant ecological studies have concentrated largely on above-ground parts of the grassland ecosystem with less emphasis on root growth. This study is, therefore, one of the few done on root dynamics in drier areas,” said Prof Snyman.

The longevity of grass seeds in the soil seed bank is another aspect that is being investigated at present. This information could provide guidelines in grassland restoration.

“Understanding changes in the hydrological characteristics of grassland ecosystems with degradation is essential when making grassland management decisions in arid and semi-arid areas to ensure sustainable animal production. The impact of grassland degradation on productivity, root production, root/shoot ratios, and water-use efficiency has been quantified for the semi-arid grasslands over the last 35 years. Because of the great impact of sustainable management guidelines on land users, this study will be continuing for many years,” said Prof Snyman.

Water-use efficiency (WUE) is defined as the quantity of above- and/or below-ground plant produced over a given period of time per unit of water evapotranspired. Sampling is done from grassland artificially maintained in three different grassland conditions: good, moderate, and poor.

As much as 86, 89 and 94% of the roots for grasslands in good, moderate and poor conditions respectively occur at a depth of less than 300 mm. Root mass is strongly seasonal with the most active growth taking place during March and April. Root mass appears to be greater than above-ground production for these semi-arid areas, with an increase in roots in relation to above-ground production with grassland degradation. The mean monthly root/shoot ratios for grasslands in good, moderate, and poor conditions are 1.16, 1.11, and 1.37 respectively. Grassland degradation lowered above- and below-ground plant production significantly as well as water-use efficiency. The mean WUE (root production included) was 4.79, 3.54 and 2.47 kg ha -1 mm -1 for grasslands in good, moderate, and poor conditions respectively.

These water-use efficiency observations are among the few that also include root production in their calculations.

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