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12 April 2019 | Story Ruan Bruwer | Photo Varsity Cup
Vishuis
Vishuis will be trying to win their overall seventh Varsity hostel title on Monday.

Managing his players is of the utmost importance if the University of the Free State’s (UFS) Abraham Fischer Residence (Vishuis) is to claim a fourth straight and seventh overall national hostel title, says Zane Botha, head coach of the hostel team at the UFS.

The Varsity Hostel competition, which will be taking place in Stellenbosch, has been drastically shortened to only three days of rugby because Steinhoff has withdrawn their sponsorship.

If Vishuis makes it to the final, they will play three matches in four days.
They will face the Kovacs of the University of the Western Cape (UWC) on Friday 12 March 2019, followed by the semi-final on Saturday and the final on Monday. The final will take place at 14:00 and will be broadcast live on SuperSport.

“This will be new territory for us. We will have to make good tactical decisions; it won’t be possible for a prop to play for 70 minutes in all three encounters,” said Botha, who is in his third year with the hostel.

The team played three warm-up matches, which they won convincingly. We still have the core of last year’s team, together with some exciting youngsters.
Botha explained that they kept to their strategy of working harder than anyone else on the practice field and during matches. In last year’s final, Vishuis defeated Patria of the North-West University by 55-29, which was the biggest winning margin in the 11 years of the competition. Vishuis walked away with the crown in 2010, 2012, 2013, 2016, 2017, and 2018.

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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