Ranching is typically the most common system adopted in tropical America, Australia and the Pacific islands. It is less common in Africa and Asia. In Latin America deforested areas are used for ranching. Grassland farming is mainly developed in association with plantations such as coconut (Asia and Pacific islands) and palm trees (Africa), either owned by small holders or large companies: grasses or legumes are established as ground cover : the livestock help to keep this cover short by grazing.
In this sub-system, the land tenure is favorable to investments and inputs, as fencing and organization of watering points. Pasture improvement by sowing selected grasses and replacing legumes is necessary in regions where native pasture is very poor or of low quality. It is worth replacing for example the low quality grass Imperata cylindrica, invading many areas in Asia and other wet tropical countries.
Ranch encroachment in tropical rainforest has typified the negative effects on environment of livestock development. It is not known whether the rate were converted to of deforestation has declined over recent years. In Latin America, most of the deforested areas are used for ranching, sometime after being cropped initially. Land speculation, titling procedures and government financial incentives were the main reasons for ranch-induced deforestation. But in Asia and sub-Saharan Africa, the decline of the forest area is mainly the result of crop expansion and not livestock related. After years of development and incentives, ranching in Africa is declining for economic reasons.
Grassland farming in tree crop plantation:
Livestock are grazed under coconuts in many tropical countries such as Tanzania, India, Sri Lanka, the Philippines and Pacific islands. The grass cover is established to remove the weeds and is grazed to be maintained short to allow easy location of nuts on the ground. Sometimes, special pastures are developed close to the plantation for a better feeding of cattle.
In young oil palm plantations, ground cover and green manure are commonly used to help fighting against erosion and to cycle nitrogen into the soil. Ground cover grazing is sometimes used until the shade of palms limits natural plant growth.
The rainforests are estimated to contain 50 percent of the worlds’ plant and animal species. Deforestation is one of the main causes of loss of plant and animal species living in these forests. Furthermore, deforestation threatens the existence of indigenous communities living in forests by reducing their vital resources.
The transformation from tropical forest to crop and pasture brings about soil erosion and substantial losses of soil fertility. Soil nutrients are rapidly depleted after clearing and grasses are soon replaced by less useful vegetation as wooded fallws of low productive value. Furthermore, in many tropical rainforest areas, pastures can only be sustained for a short period, up to ten years, if no fertilizer is used, mainly phosphorus, the main limiting soil nutrient..
Spreading of invasive plants, especially weeds, bushes and trees, are a constant threat for pastures, as a result of an ecological disequilibrium and bad pasture management. Some are exotic species, some of which are introduced through grass seeding and some from nearby fallow land. Control needs mechanical and chemical interventions, which can have an impact on environment.
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