The improper management of grazing land, specifically by overstocking, can result in soil erosion, the encroachment of bushes, the drying up of springs, and a reduction in animal output.
In this edition of Gather To Grow, soil scientist Sixolise Mcinga, agronomist Wafiq Essop, and product developer Thapelo Phiri share advice on regenerative agricultural techniques.
Why overgrazing happens and how to prevent it
Overstocking the land with cattle within poorly-managed agricultural applications is a leading source of overgrazing, says Mcinga. There is an optimal population density of grazing animals for any given plot of land. Overgrazing occurs when more livestock is introduced into a field than the land can sustain.
“[For example] cattle are in love with one grass species, which is called the eragrostis curvula. So, on a piece of land, if there are other types of species, obviously the first preference will be their type, which will be your eragrostis curvula as an example.”
Mcinga explains that when this happens, other grass species replace eragrostis curvula in the field. There would be swaths of themeda triandra and other species that cattle have little interest in eating.
Finding the solution
According to Phiri, farmers can and should be more resourceful in their efforts to combat soil erosion and overgrazing. Regenerative farming boosts soil health, yielding more nutritious crops.
“There will be a lot of money for those who will be transitioning, and surely those who will be transitioning faster will make more money than those who will come late. So, what I’ll say to farmers who have joined us here, is just to find ways to consult how they can start to transition to regenerative agriculture,” explains Phiri.
The specialists also discussed the following:
- What the agribusiness world can learn from carbon credits;
- What an absolute necessity it is to select a location with sufficient grass for animal husbandry; and
- Establishing a rotational grazing system.
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