You are here: CSS Focus Areas * Focus Area 1: Natural resources * Components: Natural Resources

Tell A Friend

Focus Area 1 Components

Forage resources and management
The production potential of rangelands is limited and can be optimised by making available adapted, nutritious, and highly productive forages.  New forage and pasture cultivars and ecovars with higher nutritive quality and resistance to diseases, insects and tolerances to limiting conditions (low fertility, drought and low water availability, heat stress etc.) and competition from other plants (weeds and mixtures), are needed to optimise the efficiency of utilisation of veld by livestock.

Management of forage availability from pastures, veld and conserved forages to maximise seasonal distribution, yield and quality is one of the greatest limitations in enhancing livestock productivity.  New forage production and management practices are needed to assist farmers to maximise economic efficiencies and facilitate the integration of veld livestock production systems.

i. Complete fodder flow programmes using alternative forages to complement shortcomings (quality and quantity) of veld to improve the efficiency of a livestock production system. 
ii. Breeding and release of new forage and pasture cultivars with higher nutritive quality, less CH4 emissions during rumen fermentation, resistance to diseases and pests, and tolerant to limiting conditions (soil fertility, drought and low water availability, high temperatures, competition from weeds, etc). 
iii. Acquire, preserve, evaluate describe and enhance genetic resources and develop new knowledge and technologies to increase the productive capacity and usefulness of plants as forages. 
iv. Pasture systems whereby production is optimised per unit area (kg meat/ha) with highest profit, and where applicable addressing the usage of organic fertilizers vs nitrogen fertilization. 
v. Improved forage management strategies to maximise efficiency in livestock production systems with minimum negative impact on the environment and biodiversity of the habitat.
Correction of nutritional deficiencies in optimal animal production. 
Veld monitoring and management
Environmentally sound management of livestock on veld types is fundamental to sustainable livestock production. Veld monitoring and management systems are needed to help pastoralists maximise economic efficiencies in livestock production while avoiding negative impacts on the environment.

Increased knowledge of the natural processes (competition, fire, herbivore impact, carbon and nutrient cycling, water use, energy capture and flow and vegetation change) which control productivity and promote stability of veld types is required to develop better approaches to their management. A thorough understanding of the basic biology veld types is needed to provide the pastoralist with the best information for managing pastures and veld.

Techniques to rehabilitate non productive areas and avoid further degradation by improving veld condition to maximise livestock production.
ii. To provide pastoralists with veld management strategies to maximise the productivity of veld and thus the efficiency and competitiveness of their livestock enterprise and simultaneously prevent degradation of the resource.
iii. Provide the stock farmer with information regarding the interaction between the animal, the vegetation resource and the impact of the variable climatic factors on the quantity, quality and consistency of feed availability and so adapt his management to minimise the financial risk.

Management strategies to reduce enteric methane and nitrous oxide emissions and water use, and improving efficiency in South African vegetation-based production systems.
Pastoral risk management and decision support systems
Management decision-making by pastoralists would be greatly enhanced by the availability of risk identification / evaluation and decision support systems.  

The provision and development of databases based on sound research results should provide the necessary inputs for the development of risk management and decision support tools

i. Provide decision support tools whereby the stock farmer can be informed on time of environmental risks (e.g. drought and/or floods) and extreme events (e.g. fire) so as to employ strategies to minimise the negative consequences on his production system and future resource productivity.
ii. Provide data on alternative forage sources re species, varieties, agronomic requirements, management requirements, stocking rates and expected profit margins / ha for a range of climates and production systems.
A systems approach to livestock production.
A systems approach can be defined as the utilisation of the principles of genetics, nutrition, physiology, genetic resources, range and forage management, product technology and economics to support practical and profitable animal production by integrating research into farming practice.  

This will ensure a sustainable production enterprise through the best allocation of limited resources, and fulfils an important coordination function between the different disciplines of animal production.
i. Studies of the whole enterprise and production cycle of animals.
ii. Understanding of species interaction (including wildlife) in the farming enterprise.
iii. Studies on integrated crop/ animal production systems.
iv. Decision support systems to assess the impact of selection decisions on the efficiency of the production systems since many economic relevant traits interact, such as the use of sires that modify energy requirements (through altered weaning weight, mature weight, milk production, etc) will influence stocking rates.
Herd Management
Efficient livestock production encompasses a vast number of factors including biological, environmental, input, market and infrastructure elements.  i.

 Improved management techniques related to health, reproduction, nutrition, heat stress, water use, selection, gene flow, economic and other market related aspects established.

 Supplementary feeding during periods of increased stress, eg drought, wintering, gestation.
Environmental protection
 Protection of the environment (in terms of ecosystem, wetlands, waste management and prevention of erosion and pollution) and maintenance of biodiversity are paramount for plant and animal resources, and in sustainable small and large livestock production systems.  Research to combat these adverse influences should be specific for particular circumstances but also holistic to support integrated approaches.  i.
Information and methodologies to maintain ecosystems and wetlands, prevent erosion and pollution and to manage agricultural wastes and effluents. (eg. manure and other fermentable waste, soils and crops).
Information and methodology to reclaim eroded and polluted resources.
Restoring the value of grasslands/
Widespread neglect and degradation of grazing land has led to high incidences of poverty in many rural areas. The degradation of grasslands also results in environmental losses e. g. erosion, CO2 emissions, water loss and biodiversity loss. i. The environmental and economic value of grasslands restored, while its social and cultural functions is preserved.
ii. Assessment of existing policy, legislation, strategies, projects and programs aimed at improving the grassland resources for sustainable animal agriculture. 
iii. Increased carbon sequestration in biomass, improved climate change resilience and improved production efficiency.