As indicated in Chapter 1, this section attempts to cover some of the gaps in the description of grassland zones and their problems. Summaries of the grassland and grazing situation in areas not addressed in the main chapters are presented. The basis of the summaries is the series of Country Pasture Resource Profiles published by the FAO Grassland and Pasture Crops Group and which provide basic information about the pasture and forage resources of countries; these profiles provide more detailed information and extensive bibliographies (see the Web site <http://www.fao.org/ag/AGP/AGPC/doc/pasture/forage.htm> and the CD-ROM "Country Pasture Profiles" (Reynolds, Suttie and Staberg, 2005)); developing countries have been the main focus since this is FAOs major zone of interest.
This section draws on Pasture Profiles for Algeria (Nedjraoui, 2001), Morocco (Berkat and Tazi, 2004) and Tunisia (Kayouli, 2000). These North Africa n countries have large areas of grazed land and many pastoral features in common, and stretch from 13°E to 12°E and from 19°N to 37°19?N; vast areas of their southern part is desert. The relief is in two broad categories, the Atlas and the Sahara. The Atlas are a group of ranges running southwest to northeast roughly adjacent and parallel to the Mediterranean coastline. South of the Atlas, a series of steppic plateaux descend to the Sahara, which is a great barrier between the Mediterranean zone and the tropics.
The northern mountains capture most of the precipitation and agriculture lands are concentrated in the north; the highest Atlas lands are forest and summer grazing. The climate is typically Mediterranean, with hot summers and rain occurring during the cool season. Temperature is governed both by altitude and the degree of continentality. The region has all the Mediterranean bioclimates, from perhumid to perarid for bioclimatic levels, and from cold to hot for temperatures.
Livestock are important throughout the zone and in most farming systems: sheep are the most important and are the main livestock of the steppe, although small flocks are kept in most areas for domestic use; several local breeds are used according to regional adaptation. Cattle are mainly kept in the northern farming areas and are commonly fed on crop residues, by-products and concentrates; the traditional breeds were taurins of the Atlas Brown type, but there are now many crosses with exotic dairy breeds, notable black and white ones.
Goats are widespread although much less numerous than sheep. Camels are a mainstay in the desert areas.
The mountains of the north once had a Mediterranean forest vegetation, which has been greatly reduced by clearing for agriculture or felling; in some places forest is degraded to matorral. The steppes are the great traditional grazing lands; Artemisia steppes (Artemisia herba-alba) are extremely widespread and there are large stands of Stipa tenacissima (alfa) and Lygeum spartum (esparto). Stipa tenacissima and Lygeum spartum are mediocre fodders but are commercially important since they are harvested for papermaking and basketry on such a scale that these populations have been damaged. An unusual browse formation in western Morocco is the argan (Argania spinosa) zone, where this shrub is browsed by goats, which clamber into the trees to feed; argan seed yields an edible oil.
Cereals are often grown in rotation with fallow, which produces large areas of high-quality grazing. Many Mediterranean fallow plants have been domesticated in Australia and incorporated into cereal-fallow rotations; there have been many attempts to re-import these plants and the associated technology into North Africa but with very limited success, as large cereal farmers are not livestock owners and fallows are often let to passing transhumant herds, which graze them to bare ground. The rich pastoral flora of the fallows includes: Avena spp., Bromus spp., Hordeum spp., Lolium rigidum, Hippocrepis spp., Lathyrus aphaca, Lotus spp., Medicago ciliaris, M. littoralis, M. orbicularis, M. polymorpha (the commonest, with many highly productive forms), M. rugosa, M. scutellata, M. truncatula, Melilotus spp., Scorpiurus spp. and Trifolium spp.
Sown pasture is uncommon in the region, but many valuable pasture plants native to North Africa have been widely used elsewhere. They include Dactylis glomerata, Festuca arundinacea, Lolium multiflorum, L. rigidum, L. perenne, Phalaris aquatica, Hedysarum coronarium, Medicago sativa and Trifolium fragiferum (see Plate 11.1).
Fodder is grown in specialized dairy enterprises in the farming areas; oats are a common winter fodder, as is maize in summer. Oat hay is produced by large cereal farms, mainly for sale, and demand often exceeds supply and prices are high, making it an expensive feed per unit of energy. Oat and hay production in the region are described by Chaouki et al. (2004).
Traditional sheep rearing was based on transhumance, with variants according to local conditions; frequently it involved moving to agricultural lands to graze stubbles and straw in summer, and to the desert fringe in winter. Recently, transhumance has been greatly reduced: much of the steppe has been cleared for rainfed cereal growing of doubtful sustainability, even down to the 300 mm isohyet in some cases; this clearing was officially encouraged and those who "developed" the steppe by clearing gained title to their holding. Many of the rural population are now agropastoralists, with a little cropland and small flocks. The human population of the steppe has exploded: in Algeria the steppe population was 925 700 in 1954; in 2003 it was about 4 000 000; during the same period, the number of nomads only rose from 595 240 to 625 000. Nomadism in Algeria is now sporadic and most only make short movements, the feed shortage being met by crop residues, stubble grazing and purchased grain; only owners of large flocks continue long migration, and they are equipped with transport.
Tunisia shows a similar pattern of disappearing transhumance. Increasing settlement of nomads, increase in sheep numbers in marginal zones, expansion of cultivation and reduction of fallow have greatly increased pressure on available land and reduced soil fertility. Grazing land is becoming scarcer and meagre as more and more land is put under crops. Sheep and goats traditionally grazed on hillsides and steppes in winter in the centre, and stubble in summer in the north during transhumance. This continues, but is much reduced. Increased purchasing power has raised the demand for livestock products so farmers are changing to intensive sheep rearing with feed supplements, based on imported cereals.
West Africa has great grazing areas, between the humid forest in the south and the desert in the north. Rainfall decreases from south to north so the vegetation belts run east-west. In the extreme north the Saharan zone is hyper-arid with skeletal soils; crops are only possible under special conditions; stock-rearing, where it is possible, reigns without competition. Detailed descriptions are available in the pasture profiles for Burkina Faso (Kagoné, 2002), Mali (Coulibally, 2003) Niger (Geesing and Djibo, 2002) and Ghana (Oppong-Anane, 2001).
Millet, a major crop in the arid and
semi -arid areas.
The Sahelian zone, from the Atlantic through Chad, is arid, with a summer rainfall of 250-500 mm and a dry season of nine to eleven months. In the northern Sahel, which belongs to the Saharan-Sindian floristic domain according to Wickens (1997), the 150 mm isohyet corresponds to the southern limit of the Saharan species Cornulaca monacantha, Panicum turgidum and Stipagrostis pungens and to the northern limit of such Sahelian shrubs as Boscia senegalensis and Commiphora africana and the grass Cenchrus biflorus.
The Sahels southern limit adjoins the deciduous woodlands of the Sudanian domain at between 450 and 500 mm/yr precipitation. Acacia spp. dominate the thin scrub along with Balanites aegyptiaca; laterite outcrops and cuirasses are colonized by Combretum nigricans, Guiera senegalensis, Lannea acida and Sclerocarya birrea. The grass component of the northern dunes is dominated by Cenchrus biflorus, Aristida mutabilis and Schoenfeldia gracilis. To the south, Schoenfeldia gracilis is important; on flood plains of rivers, grasslands with perennials like Echinochloa stagnina, Oryza barthii and Vossia cuspidata provide excellent grazing when the floods have receded. Crops are grown, opportunistically, with millet (Pennisetum spp.) the most important - it is usually sown when rain falls, with resowing, perhaps several times, until a reasonable stand is attained.
The Sahelian grazing lands have suffered much damage in the past fifty years, through an increasing human population, excessive advance of cropping into very marginal areas and serious deforestation, mainly for firewood, all exacerbated by recurrent droughts. The great drought of 1968 was particularly serious, as were others in the early 1980s.
The Sudanian zone, with from 500 mm to 1 100 mm/yr rainfall, is mainly on ferruginous tropical soils, with colluvions in depressions. Agricultural activity is more intense and the chance of crops succeeding is much more reliable. Millet is still important on light soils in the drier parts, along with cowpea and groundnut, with sorghum on heavier soils. The range of crops widens as rainfall increases: maize is grown and cotton is a cash crop. Stock-rearing is sedentary, with some migration away from cropland in the growing season. Areas with between 800 and 1 400 mm/yr precipitation is "parkland", where much of the original forest has been cleared for cropping but trees that yield useful products have been protected; it is characterized by Vitellaria paradoxa (shea butter), Parkia biglobosa, Lannea acida and Sclerocaraya birrea. The herbaceous layer was dominated by Andropogon gayanus, which is becoming scarce because of clearing and in cultivated areas has been replaced by vast areas of poor, unpalatable grasses. Forage quality is generally poorer than in the Sahel.
In the subhumid Sudano-Guinean zone, the rains last five to seven months, and agriculture is oriented to tubers (yams, cassava) and fruits. This is the wooded savannah (savane arborée - analogous to the miombo of central-southern Africa) and open forest (forêt claire). The tree layer is dominated by Daniella olivieri and Isoberlina doka, and associated grasses are Hyperaemia spp., Schizachryium rupestre, S. semi-herbe and Diheteropogon hagerupii.
The southern, humid parts of West Africa are not grazing areas. Tsetse flies (Glossina spp.), the vectors of trypanosomiasis, are a major hindrance to the expansion of animal husbandry; ticks are also a serious problem. Root crops are important for subsistence, and many tree crops are grown, including oil-palm and cacao.
There are two main stock-rearing ethnic groups, the Tuareg and the Fulani (Peul). Tuareg live on the desert fringe, and are divided into many groups: some are still exclusively transhumant herders; others are part of a pastoral economy, staying in villages or camps close to their fields. Exclusive herders occupy land that is unsuitable for crops, to the north of the agropastoralists.
Fulani (Plate 11.3) are cattle breeders, but small ruminants (Plate 11.4) provide meat for a family while cattle are capital, investment and prestige. There are both stock-rearing and agropastoralist groups; agropastoralist Fulani occupy the southern Sahelian space. Transhumant groups sow millet near the fringe of cultivation during their migration. As tsetse fly challenge is reduced through tree and bush clearing, Fulani are increasingly settling, notably in Nigeria.
Transhumance systems traverse the land of farming communities and their herds may graze the stovers and fallows of farming groups. Many agricultural groups keep few or no cattle and the transhumant herds help by manuring some fields. This is changing and farmers increasingly conserve their stovers and may even sell them to passing herds.
Wodaabe man with his herd. The Wodaabe
are nomads and are part of the Fulani ethnic group.
Small ruminants on the
Camels (Plate 11.5) are kept throughout the Sahelian zone but do not enter the trypanosomiasis areas. Sheep are local breeds and may be milked; Fulani sheep are important north of the zone of trypanosomiasis; in forest zones the trypanotolerant djallonke breed is reared in small groups. Sahelian goats, a long-legged type, are kept in the main herding areas; the Red Sokoto Goat (chèvre rouge de Maradi), a breed of clearings in the Sudanian and Sahelosudanian zones, is renowned for the quality of its leather. In areas of high tsetse fly challenge, trypanotolerant dwarf goats are reared.
Dromedary camels are used for
transporting goods across the desert, and are also good milk
Kouri cattle are a unique breed well
adapted to the semi -aquatic environment of Lake Chad.
Sahelian cattle are mainly either long-horned or short-horned zebu; the Kouri, a taurin, occurs around Lake Chad (Plate 11.6); these breeds are not trypanotolerant and how far they can penetrate towards forested areas is governed by tsetse fly challenge. Cattle rearing and animal husbandry are much less important in the agricultural, well -watered zones; however, local trypanotolerant breeds of cattle, sheep and goats are raised in clearings and on fallows in the shifting cultivation system. NDama cattle from Guinea, Muturu from Nigeria and Baoulé from Côte DIvoire, which are among the better-known trypanotolerant breeds, are taurin types (Bos taurus brachyceros), not zebus. NDama have been introduced to other tsetse-infested parts of Africa, notably the Republic of the Congo (Chabeuf, 1983), to establish beef production in areas where it was not previously possible. Crosses between zebus and taurins are used in intermediate zones according to the level of tsetse challenge; some have breed status, such as the Sanga and Néré.
Madagascar has one of the larger cattle herds in Africa; most are raised on natural grassland; FAOSTAT gives figures of about 10 000 000 over the past twenty years, but Ministry estimates in 2000 were 7 260 000, of which 1 000 000 were draught oxen, 500 000 dairy cattle and the remainder zebu (Rasambainarivo and Ranaivoarivelo, 2003); stock counts are complicated by many stockowners letting their cattle roam in a semi -feral state because of security problems. Small stock are limited to the drier south: about a million goats and half a million sheep; only local breeds are kept in extensive systems. The highlands and the wet east coast are agricultural; rice is the staple crop. Cattle are kept for draught in farming areas but few are milked. Some exotic or grade dairy cattle are kept near towns in the highlands, but settled Malagasy are not traditional milk drinkers.
Madagascar lies between 11°57? and 25°29?S and 43°14? and 50°27?E. Highlands (above 888 m) occupy the whole north-south axis. The eastern slopes fall abruptly to the Indian Ocean; the western versant has gentler slopes occupied by great plains, which extend to the Mozambique Channel. The climate is unimodal tropical, typified by a rainy season (November-March) and a dry season (April-October). The length of seasons varies according to the region. Altitude also has its effect, especially insofar as temperature is concerned. The dry season is cold in the highlands, where frost can occur (regions of Ambatolampy and Antsirabe).
Human settlement in Madagascar is relatively recent, about 2000 years, and livestock came with them. Much of Madagascar had been covered by forest, but forest cover is decreasing rapidly and is now only about 22 percent of the land area. The area of savannah is 387 404 km2, 68 percent of the island. Most savannahs (62 percent) are in the west and the south, and 76 percent are below 800 m. The grasses of Madagascar were the subject of an in-depth study by Bosser (1969). The grasslands are floristically poor and there are no wild ungulates, but nor is there tseste fly, and many of the serious livestock diseases of mainland Africa are also absent.
The main extensive grazing areas are in the northwest, mid-west and south. Bush fires occur all over the pastoral areas every year. Land tenure in the pastoral land is essentially traditional; its management depends, grosso modo, on whomsoever uses it. Insecurity of tenure favours the continued extensive use of the grasslands. The grazing lands are grasslands with few trees or shrubs, except in the extreme south. Poor soils and frequent fire maintain a grassy vegetation under rainfalls that should support savannah or forest.
In northern savannahs, Heteropogon contortus is dominant on the plateaux, but replaced by Aristida spp. on severely eroded areas (Plate 11.7). At the foot of slopes and on colluvions, the commonest grasses are Hyparrhenia rufa and Hyperthelia dissoluta. Bottom lands are covered by Echinochloa spp. and a retinue of secondary grasses. The relief is dominated by vast plains at altitudes below 300 m. Annual rainfall is 1 000 mm and the dry season lasts from mid-March to the end of November.
In the mid-west, plateaus and the gentle slopes are covered by Heteropogon contortus and Hyparrhenia rufa, but in many places serious erosion has allowed Aristida spp. and Loudetia spp. to establish. The soil cover of perennials does not exceed 20-40 percent. Steep slopes are covered by Aristida rufescens and Loudetia simplex. The percentage of bare soil is high (90 percent), indicating serious erosion. Colluvions are covered by Panicum maximum and Hyparrhenia variabilis.
Madagascar plateau area with a dry
season cover of Themeda triandra on disturbed soil in the foreground and
Aristida rufescens and Hyparrhenia spp. on the main
The southern savannahs are the largest of the regions. The topography is vast plains. The region has low rainfall and few rainy days. Toliary is the driest area, with 275 mm over 27 rainy days. There is great inter-year variability. The rainiest months are December to February. Water is a problem for stock between April and November. The south is renowned for its big herds of zebus and small stock. The population live in "a cattle civilization". Heteropogon contortus is the commonest grass on soils not subject to waterlogging. According to the topography and the degree of erosion, some species can dominate; this is the case for Loudetia simplex and Aristida spp., which occupy degraded slopes. Hyparrhenia rufa, Hyperthelia dissoluta and Cynodon dactylon occupy areas that may receive runoff. Cacti (Opuntia spp.) are characteristic fodder plants. The extreme south, on limestone, has characteristic thorn-scrub, with many endemic plants, dominated by tall Didieraceae.
Many forages have been grown successfully, but only a few dairy farmers grow them. Pasture improvement by over-sowing with Stylosanthes guyanensis and S. humilis was tested on a large scale in the mid-west in the early 1970s, but, after initial promise, the legume was wiped out by anthracnose.
The Llanos of Venezuela (Vera, 2003) are part of the 50 million hectares of savannahs in the Orinoco River basin. The vegetation communities can be divided into four main subregions.
The Piedmont Savannahs consist of large alluvial areas and terraces covered originally by semi -deciduous forests and savannahs, though the latter predominates. They are southeast of the Andes and descend gradually to the plains. They are characterized by a rich tree flora, shrubs and grasses, most of which are common to the other types of savannah. These include Andropogon selloanus, A. semiberbis, Axonopus canescens, A. purpusii, Bulbostylis spp., Elyonurus adustus, Leptocoryphium lanatum, Panicum olyroides, Paspalum plicatulum, P. gardnerianum, Trachypogon plumosus, T. vestitus and T. montufari. On average, the maximum aboveground stand of savannah reaches 7 t/ha/yr, with about twice that amount below ground.
The savannahs of the High Plains or Mesas are north of the Orinoco, at 150-270 m, descending into the Llanos de Monagas. They are covered by a deciduous tree savannah where the herbaceous layer predominates and is dominated by Trachypogon plumosus or T. vestitus, with Andropogon selloanus, Axonopus canescens and Leptocoryphium lanatum as subdominant grasses.
The sparse tree layer is composed of Curatella americana, Byrsonima crassifolia and Bowdichia virgiloides. Aboveground production of the grass layer peaks at 3 200-4 200 kg/ha when burnt, whereas yields are 30 percent lower if protected. Fire is the only economically feasible management tool. Burning, even in mid-dry season, induces a regrowth if water reserves allow.
The Alluvial Overflow Plains, which occupy a depression of 3 800 000 ha in the central Llanos between the piedmont and the high plains, are very flat, with only one to two metres between the highest and lowest points. Higher land constitutes natural levees, where the soil is a sandy alluvium, whereas clay particles settle in the lower parts (basins), which have slow drainage; rain drains very slowly and the lower parts remain flooded during most of the rainy season, but have a high carrying capacity in the dry season. The area is used for extensive cattle and buffalo grazing (96 percent for cattle; 4 percent under forests), although frequently wild capybara are raised with cattle. The botanical composition of levees and basins differs, but this type of savannah has more palatable species than the others, and has been modified by human intervention, especially in an area of 250 000 ha enclosed by low dykes and floodgates to regulate water levels in sections of 3 000 to 6 000 ha each. Land permanently above water is colonized by Axonopus purpusii, A. affinis and Leptocoryphium lanatum; sections moderately flooded contain Panicum laxum and Leersia hexandra as dominants; and the strongly flooded areas are dominated by Hymenachne amplexicaulus, Reimarochloa acuta and Leersia hexandra. Cyperaceae are also abundant. Aboveground yields vary between the 5 t DM/ha of the levees to 2-3 t DM/ha in the basins. According to some estimates, regulation of water level in the Modulos can increase carrying capacity up to fivefold.
The Aeolian Plains, which extend north-east from the Colombian Andean Piedmont into southern Venezuela, are characterized by dunes covered by sparse vegetation, almost treeless, and dominated by Trachypogon ligularis and Paspalum carinatum; inter-dunal depressions are occupied by a Mesosetum savannah. Both formations are low yielding and of low palatability.
This section is based on Riveros (2002) and Garbulsky and Deregibus (2004). The Gran Chaco, between 17° and 33°S and 65° and 60°W, is a vast plain in the River Plate Basin that extends through northern Argentina, southeastern Bolivia, northwestern Paraguay and a small area of southwestern Brazil. It stretches for about 1 500 km from north to south, and 700 km from east to west, without any physical barriers intervening. Its area is about 850 000 km2. The Chaco, which extends into both tropical and temperate zones, is one of the major wooded grasslands in South America, but suffers from intense degradation through unrestricted forest and bush clearing, overgrazing and continuous monoculture.
Park grasslands in NE Chaco, a summer
V. ALEJANDRO DEREGIBUS AND MARTIN F. GARBULSKY
It slopes gradually eastwards, at 100-500 m above sea level, except for the Sierras in Cordoba, Argentina, which reach 2 800 m. The climate, of the wet-dry season al type, varies without sudden changes since there are no natural barriers. Temperatures rise from south to north and rainfall from west to east. The warmest months coincide with those of maximum rainfall, which favoured the evolution of herbaceous forages of the C4 type.
Most early settlement was along the coast and major waterways. A railway and water supplies opened the Chaco to settlement. Commercial beef production developed in the nineteenth century. Large tracts were colonized and the exploitation of the Chaco began in earnest. Between 1910 and 1920, the southeast of the Paraguayan Chaco was an area for extensive cattle production and sugar cane growing. Grazing was totally unmanaged, there was uncontrolled burning, and overfelling of forest led to its replacement by undesirable thorny vegetation.
Introduction of livestock alone is not enough to explain the dramatic and rapid changes that took place in the vegetation. The most potent factor was the dispersion of watering points so that a much greater proportion of the herbage could be consumed, leaving little or none to be burnt. The demise of the fire climax led to an increased scarcity of forage through increased grazing and increased growth of unpalatable, woody species. This was the only grassland intervention introduced by the ranchers. Grazing was continuous, with mixed herds of cattle, horses, goats, asses and sheep roaming uncontrolled on the same land, with no limits but the distance to water in the dry season; small stock were often penned at night. The boundaries of grazing territories were ill-defined and herds grazing land often overlapped; this led to severe overgrazing and rapid degradation of the pastoral cover. In less than fifty years, the once-rich landscape had been almost sterilized and altered as a result of this "no management" system.
A savannah type in SE Chaco, winter
V. ALEJANDRO DEREGIBUS AND MARTIN F. GARBULSKY
In Argentina, the main vegetation types are:
Humid to subhumid or Oriental Chaco is a parkland formation (Plate 11.8), where patches of Quebracho Colorado Chaqueño (Schinopsis spp.) forest alternate with open grassland. There are also areas of Copernica alba palm, usually under swamp conditions with accumulation of salts.
Arid and semi -arid Chaco. This is present in Argentina (Plate 11.9), in the east of Bolivia and western Paraguay, with a small area in southwest Brazil. It is a huge area of flat land, increasingly arid from east to west. Open grasslands derived from forest through bush clearing and fire occupy a lesser area than in the humid and subhumid zones. Forests are dominated by xerophytes and are more open than in the eastern Chaco. Cacti are common among trees and shrubs. Pastoral resources include a vast number of trees and shrubs, as well as forage plants that are only found in man-made clearings.
The Montane zone is mostly in Argentina, but extends into Bolivia and Paraguay. The landscape is broken by hills, which have a higher rainfall than the lowlands; hillsides collect moist air coming from the Atlantic. The forest vegetation contains many species found in the lower Chaco, and some trees of higher rainfall areas; the grass cover is very limited.
In Paraguay, the Chaco, referred to as the "western region", is almost flat, with 32 000 km2 suitable for crops, but only a very small area is cultivated. The grazed area covers 124 000 km2, mostly on natural grassland. Two main vegetation groups are recognized in Paraguay: the xeromorphic group dominates the landscape; matorral is the main formation in all the centre, north and west. Mesomorphic vegetation that dominates towards the south and centre-east develops on heavier, better structured soils and is covered by a mosaic of alternating forest of Schinopsis balinese, Caesalpinia paraguariensis and Phyllostylon rhamnoides; palm-savannahs of Copernica alba; and marshes.
Extensive livestock rearing is, and will probably remain, a major land use in the Chaco. Bush encroachment brought about by overstocking and lack of grazing management is very serious, leading to erosion, loss of wildlife habitat, and greatly reduced livestock production. The economics of herbicides and mechanical clearing are not clear. In most sub-tropical areas of extensive grazing, the strategic use of pasture resting and controlled fire is the only economic way of keeping bush in check.
Poor management in the Chaco leads to invasion by unpalatable weeds, caused by loss of soil fertility, which must be kept at high levels to assure survival of introduced forages. Proper adjustment of carrying capacity is also essential. Natural grassland is better than degraded, weed-infested, "improved pasture". Sown pastures may have an important role in the Paraguayan Chaco compared with the rest of the area.
The Pampas (Garbulsky and Deregibus, 2004), which occupies about 50 million hectares between the 2°C and the 13°C isotherms, has a temperate climate with mild, snow-free winters. Precipitation decreases from 1 200 mm in the northeast to 500 mm/yr in the ecotonal change to the Monte region. Rain is evenly distributed through the year in the east, but is concentrated in the warm season in the west.
This Region is characterized by its lack of native trees, flat terrain, fertile soils, extended croplands and native or sown pastures. As soils are fertile and summers shorter and milder than in the north, many C3 grasses and temperate legumes grow during the cool season. Thus a seasonal alternation occurs between 4 and C3 plants. Species alternation maintains green grass year-long and is ideal for resource utilization in a seasonally variable climatic environment; mild water deficits in summer are better overcome by C4 grasses. Temperate grasses and legumes of good quality (above 20 percent protein and 70-80 percent digestibility) allow total utilization during winter of the remnant biomass of summer grasses, so there is seldom accumulation of forage in winter.
Native humid-grasslands cover the Flooding Pampa, some parts of Entre Ríos Province and most river and stream banks. Their warm season components are grasses of the Panicoideae, Chlorideae, Andropogoneae and Oryzeae. Alternating seasonally with them, thrive grasses of the Agrosteae, Aveneae, Festuceae, Phalarideae and Stipeae. As soil fertility increases to the west of the Paraná River and south of the Río de la Plata, a myriad of herbaceous legumes grow (Cassia spp., Crotalaria spp., Desmanthus spp., Phaseolus spp., Vicia spp., etc.).
The very slight slope of the plains results in a low morphogenic potential and endoreic or areic drainage, in spite of a subhumid climate. These topographical characteristics cause extensive and lengthy flooding during periods of abundant precipitation (once every decade), causing severe damage and heavy losses where human influence has been prominent. Lesser floods, which occur at the end of winter and in early spring, are the most remarkable features of this region.
The typical physiognomy of the Flooding Pampa is extended, treeless grasslands (except where trees are planted) and its community is dominated by Paspalum dilatatum (Plates 11.10a and b), Bothriochloa laguroides and Briza subaristata. P. quadrifarium and Stipa trichotoma are bunch grasses that dominate the southwestern part of the area.
Non-saline grasslands produce about 5 t DM/ha/yr, with a clear summer peak - a pattern that contrasts with the small variation in standing crop greenness. Forage productivity in winter (July) is 5 kg DM/ha/day, being30 kg DM/ha/day in December and January. Scarce winter production is caused by the depletion of cool-season grasses caused by continuous overgrazing of domestic cattle after windmills and fences were introduced 100 years ago. The dominance of warm-season grasses and loss of nitrogen fertility further prevent the establishment of cool-season grasses every autumn. Low winter productivity limits the carrying capacity and determines the production system of the area: cow-calf operations. Almost 3.5 million cattle roam the 6 million hectares of the Flooding Pampas, exporting 2 million calves annually to be raised on pastures in cropland or feed yards. Annual secondary production may be estimated at 90 kg/ha.
A grassland dominated by
Paspalum dilatatum. Summer view.
V. ALEJANDRO DEREGIBUS AND MARTIN F. GARBULSKY
A grassland dominated by
Paspalum dilatatum. Winter (flooded) view.
V. ALEJANDRO DEREGIBUS AND MARTIN F. GARBULSKY
Winter productivity may be significantly increased by hard early autumn grazing or herbicide spraying of the warm-season grasses, followed by nitrogen fertilization. This promotes the establishment and growth of Lolium multiflorum, an excellent quality exotic grass that thrives well in intermediate communities. Phosphate fertilization may also increase cool-season grass production by promoting the density of herbaceous legumes Lotus tenuifolius and Trifolium repens that enrich soil nitrogen through fixation.
The most renowned Pampas is the sector extending in a circle around the Flooding Pampas. Constituting the main cropping area of Argentina, with 77 percent of the cattle stock and 70 percent of the human population, it contains the major cities and industrial development. The original tussock grasslands are now rainfed croplands producing soybeans, maize, wheat and sunflower as the main crops. After several years of crops, improved pastures are sown in a four- to five-year rotation to maintain soil fertility. When pastures are grown, the seasonal forage production alternates between alfalfa, which grows in the warm season, and grasses and clovers that grow in cooler weather. Oats are also a popular forage crop.
Cows on grassland in the
V. ALEJANDRO DEREGIBUS AND MARTIN F. GARBULSKY
Sown pastures (Plate 11.11) are grazed by steers, yearlings or dairy cattle. Forage legumes like Medicago sativa, Trifolium repens, T. pratense and Lotus corniculatus and grasses such as Festuca arundinacea, Phalaris arundinacea, Bromus catharticus, Dactylis glomerata, Lolium perenne and L. multiflorum or Agropyron elongatum are grown. When pastures are adequately fertilized (principally with P), primary production may achieve 12 to 15 t DM/ha/yr or more. This primary production allows 500 kg/ha of beef annually or 200 kg/ha of milk fat.
Nowadays, cash crop prices and the higher profits of agriculture have led to a decrease in cattle numbers in this area. To this can be added genetically modified soybeans and modern no-tillage practices, that reduce the need for pasture-cash crop rotations to maintain soil fertility.
The Monte phytogeographic province is a strip that surrounds the Calden and Semi-arid Chaco regions up to the Atlantic coast of Chubut province, covering 50 million hectares. Its physiognomy is dominated by a tall shrub stratum with Prosopis alpataco, P. flexuosa (Fabaceae), Larrea divaricata, L. cuneifolia and L. nitida (Zygophyllaceae). Fodder shrubs include the genus Atriplex. Towards the northern tip of the Monte province, Prosopis spp. are dominant in the shrub layer, while the southern extreme is dominated by Larrea spp. The grass layer, which is the most important forage source, is composed of a mixture of C4 and 3 species. Towards the north, the C4 group (Panicum urvilleanum, Chloris castilloniana, Pappophorum caespitosum and P. phillippianum) dominate and to the south the C3 (Stipa tenuis, S. speciosa, Poa ligularis and P. lanuginosa) increase in importance. Prosopis spp. are widely browsed by small ruminants like goats, as their shoots and pods are rich in protein.
Pasture descriptions are included for Kyrgyzstan (Fitzherbert 2000) and Uzbekistan (Makhmudovich, 2001). Uzbekistans grazing lands are described in detail by Gintzburger et al. (2003) and the problems of transition of all Central Asia to decollectivized farming and animal husbandry is discussed by Ryan, Vlek and Paroda (2004) and Gintzburger (2004). The Central Asian Region, which comprises Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan, is a vast low-altitude plain, bordered to the south by mountains that rise to the Pamirs. The Chinese Autonomous Region of Xinjiang and the northern fringe of Afghanistan are, geographically, part of the region, but their recent history and grassland management have been very different from those of countries of the former USSR. These arid to semi -arid plains had, until the twentieth century, been mainly exploited by mobile herding, with farming concentrated in oases and the valleys of the great rivers flowing to the Aral Sea.
The plains are below 500 m, with large areas below 200 m, sloping to the Aral sea, which is about 53 m above mean sea level. The Uzbekistan vegetation zones will serve to show the general banding of pastures from the grazing point of view. The territory of the republic is divided into:
A desert belt (chul), which is the zone of irrigated farming and Karakul sheep: annual precipitation is 100-250 mm; average annual temperature is about 15°C. Vegetation types are desert, psammophytic shrub and ephemeral-semi -shrub vegetation.
The foothill plains belt (adyr) is the zone of rainfed lands, with very low precipitation. The main rainfed areas and big oases of irrigated farming are concentrated in the desert (chul) zone. The yearly average temperature is 13°C, but in the south it is 14-16°C; annual precipitation is 200-545 mm; the prevailing soil type is light and typical sierozems, with widely spread ephemeral vegetation. The mid-mountain belt (tau) is rainfed land with normal precipitation of the Tashkent, Samarkand and Surkhandarya Regions. The average annual temperature is 8-11°C; annual precipitation is over 400 mm. Along with rainfed grain farming, the belt is extremely favourable for orchards and vineyards. The high-mountains belt (yaylau) is the zone of summer pastures.
Most of the lowlands of Central Asia have a very cold variant of the Mediterranean arid and semi -arid climate. Their latitude range (35°-46°) is similar to that of the steppes in the northern part of western Asia, the Maghreb and Spain to the west, and the Gobi and Mongolia to the east. Precipitation as rain and snow falls in the cold winter -spring period, with winter extreme minima often falling below -20°C.
Small ruminants, primarily sheep, are the main livestock of the region; fine-wool breeds were greatly encouraged during the soviet period, but these are less hardy than local breeds and the wool no longer commands interesting prices; local fat-tailed breeds are now at least as common as fine-wools; in Uzbekistan, Karakul are raised for their pelts. Camels are used for transport - the Arabian type in the south and east, with the Bactrian taking over in Kazakhstan. Horses are also very important. Cattle are raised in agricultural zones and in the mountains, and yak are locally important in Kyrgyzstan.
Before the Russian revolution, the pastures were exploited by herders who depended entirely on the grassland resources; herders and their livestock moved seasonally between lowland winter pastures and summer grazing. In the 1930s the herders were settled and collectivized; this stopped transhumant movement between different ecological zones. The system of state farms, cooperatives and state services would be similar to those for the USSR described in Chapter 10. Planned socialist systems were imposed, including breed improvement and feeding. Later, the usefulness of seasonal movement was recognized and land in different seasonal zones was allocated to cooperatives and state farms.
Heavy grazing and firewood collection have seriously reduced vegetation cover and the natural grazing has become degraded, with a loss of productivity and increasing desertification; destruction of forests and shrubs has led to wind erosion. Rehabilitation techniques were developed and have been applied on a fairly large scale; they are described by Gintzburger et al. (2003). After decollectivization, with fragmentation of herds and holdings and lack of clarity concerning herders responsibility for maintaining the pasture resource, rehabilitation activities have been greatly reduced.
The impact of decollectivization on livestock production systems, grassland management and herders livelihoods has been dramatic and negative (Aw-Hassan et al., 2004). Large agrofood complexes were dismantled and cooperative farms were privatized. Marketing systems collapsed and many traditional markets were lost. Institutional changes have not kept pace with changes in production systems. One overall result has been a sharp decline in stock numbers in some of the countries, especially sheep; falls have been most marked in Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan. Fitzherbert (2000) reports that sheep numbers in Kyrgyzstan fell from 9 500 000 in 1990 to 3 250 000 in 1999.
The reforms led to a massive shift from collective to household herds; often household stock numbers are too few to warrant independent herding and communal or family herding has not yet developed; this often leads to stock remaining, unsupervised, close to homesteads: nearby pastures are overgrazed while distant ones are hardly used (Iñguez et al. 2004). Previously, considerable quantities of fodder was grown and conserved for winter; this has declined very considerably as the republics concentrate on self-sufficiency in cereals, which they can no longer procure readily from elsewhere. Lack of conserved feed and reduced herd mobility exacerbate the serious problems of winter feeding.
This section is based on the Pasture Profile for the Peoples Republic of China (Hu and Zhang, 2003a) and on Hu and Zhang (2003b). The Tibet -Qinghai plateau has been described in Chapter 8. Detailed description and discussion of herding in Tibet Autonomous Region is given in Nyima (2003); grazing management of alpine ecosystems on the Tibet Qinghai Plateau is discussed by Ruijun (2003a), who also provides detailed information on yak nutrition (Ruijun, 2003b). Transhumant systems in Xinjiang and the production of winter fodder by herders is described by Wang (2003). China has vast grazing lands. The pastoral areas are concentrated in six provinces and autonomous regions: Inner Mongolia (Plates 11.12, 11.13 and 11.14), Xinjiang (Plate 11.15), Tibet, Qinghai (Plates 11.16 and 11.17), Sichuan and Gansu, where extensive stock raising is the main agricultural enterprise. These six have 70 percent of sheep, all the camels, 25 percent of cattle and goats, 44 percent of horses and 39 percent of donkeys in China.
Mixed farming, on relatively small family farms, is the agricultural system of the rest of the country, where livestock are still important, but are mainly fed on crop residues, some sown pasture and limited rough grazing if available. The pasture of family farms still belong to the state and families pay according to a Long-term Grassland Use Contract with the government; the livestock belong to the family. In the past decade, the government has put the "Longterm contract grassland use system" into force with great effort. Under this system, grassland productivity is improved by subdividing pastures and allocating long-term grazing right to individual families based on the number of family members, with fencing (Plate 11.18), homestead and barn, establishing artificial grassland and building infrastructure for water and electricity supply. In places, motorcycles are replacing horses (Plate 11.19).
Pastoral scene in July near Hailar
City, Inner Mongolia, China.
Herder with sheep, Inner Mongolia,
Horse herd near Hailar City, Inner
Small ruminants on summer pasture,
Altai, Xinjiang, China.
Despite its vast territory and the effects of topography and atmosphere circumfluence, there are only three climatic zones: East Monsoon, Northwest Arid and Semi-arid, and the Qinghai-Tibet Alpine Zone. China can be divided into three natural zones, namely the monsoon zone in the east, which accounts for 45 percent of all land; the arid inland zone in the northwest, with 30 percent of all land; and Qinghai-Tibet Plateau inland zone in the southwest, with 25 percent of all land. The eastern monsoon zone is agricultural; the northwest and southwest are pastoral.
Qinghai, summer camp.
Qinghai: grass reserved for
Qinghai - motorcycles are replacing
Yak at 4 300 m in Linzhou County,
about 70 km from Lhasa, Tibet Autonomous Region, China.
Cattle (Bos taurus and Bos indicus) are found everywhere below 2000 m. Yak (Plate 11.20) are mainly kept on the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau at 3 000 to 5 000 m. There are 15 million yaks in China (Qinghai, Tibet, Sichuan, Gansu, Xinjiang and Yunnan), around 90 percent of the world total. Buffalo of the swamp type are kept in humid tropical and subtropical areas. They are stall-fed and mainly kept for draught and meat. Sheep, the main grazing stock, are kept in temperate areas within 30° to 50°N and 75° to 135°E. Goats are the most widely distributed livestock in China, since they can adapt to many climates and pastures. Horses are the traditional draught animals below 4 000 m. Camels are important in temperate deserts. There are some single humped camels in south Xinjiang, but the great majority are Bactrian.
Feeding systems in the north differ from those in the west. Inner Mongolian grasslands are flat and the environment is simple; pastures can be grazed at any season if water is available; animals are moved rotationally following a certain range and routine. In desert areas of Xinjiang there are two seasonal grazing belts, basins and mountains. Animals graze in the basins in winter, move to mountains in spring and to high mountains in summer, returning to basins in late autumn; this is a strict seasonal grazing system and animals spend 1 or 2 months travelling from winter to summer pasture. On the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau, animals graze above 3 000 m, but pastures are still divided into seasonal belts: low cold season pasture and high warm season pasture.
China had a total grassland area of about 393 million hectares in 1994, about 12 percent of the worlds grassland. Usable grassland is 331 million hectares - 35 percent of the national land area. Most grassland is in the northern arid and cold zones. The six major pastoral provinces account for 75 percent of national grassland and around 70 percent of grazing livestock. The great size of the country and its range of latitudes, altitudes and rainfall leads to a wide range of grassland types. According to the Vegetation -habitat Classification System, grassland in China can be divided into nine classes and 276 types. There are 69 types in the Temperate Steppe Class, 39 types in the Temperate Desert Class, 25 types in the Warm Shrubby Tussock Class, 39 types in the Tropical Shrubby Tussock Class, 51 types in the Temperate Meadow Class, 24 types in the Alpine Meadow Class, 17 types in the Alpine Steppe Class, 4 types in the Alpine Desert Class and 8 types in the Marshes Class.
Many plants play an important role in forming a grassland community in terms of coverage and herbage yield in large grassland areas and various grassland types. The most important species in different grassland classes are considered below.
The Temperate Steppe class is typically Leymus chinensis (Plate 11.21), Stipa baicalensis, S. grandis, S. krylovi, S. bungeana, S. breviflora, S. glareosa, S. klemenzi i, S. capillata, Festuca ovina, Cleistogenes squarrosa, Filifolium sibiricum, Artemisia frigida, A. halodendron, A. ordosica, A. intramongolica, Thymus serpyllum var. mongolium and Ajania fruticulosa.
Plants of the Alpine Steppe class are cold -resistant, mainly from the Gramineae and Compositeae. The most important are Stipa purpureum, S. subsessiflora, Festuca ovina subsp. sphagnicola, Orinus thoroldii, Carex moorcroftii, Artemisia stracheyi and A. wellbyi.
Among the dominant plants of the Temperate Desert class are superxerocole shrubs and sub-shrubs; the most important are Seriphidium terrae-albae, S. borotalense, Artemisia soongarica, Salsola passerina, S. laricifolia, Sympegma regelii, Anabasis salsa, Reaumuria soongarica, Ceratoides latens, Kalidium schrenkianum, Potaninia mongolica, Nitraria sphaerocarpa, Ephedra przewalskii, Haloxylon erinaceum and H. persicum.
The Alpine Desert class is ecologically in the harshest environment. The dominant plants have super ability to resist cold and drought. The most important are Rhodiola algida var. tangutica, Seriphidium rhodanthum and Ceratoides compacta.
The Warm Shrubby Tussock class is dominated by mainly grasses of medium height and some forbs. The most important are Bothriochloa ischaemum, Themeda triandra var. japonica, Pennisetum centrasiaticum, Spodiopogon sibiricus, Imperata cylindrica var. major and Potentilla fulgens.
Dominant plants of the Tropical Shrubby Tussock class are almost all hot-season grasses. The most important are Miscanthus floridulus, M. sinensis, Imperata cylindrica var. major, Heteropogon contortus, Arundinella setosa, A. hirta, Eremopogon delavayi, Eragrostis pilosa, Eulalia phaeothrix, E. quadrinervis and Dicranopteris dichotoma.
The Temperate Meadow class is dominated mainly by perennial temperate and medium-humid mesophytic grasses; some are halophytes or forbs. The most important are Achnatherum splendens, Arundinella hirta, Agrostis gigantea, Calamagrostis epigeios, Bromus inermis, Deyeuxia angustifolia, D. arundinacea, Poa pratensis, P. angustifolia, Miscanthus sacchariflorus, Phragmites communis, Brachypodium sylvaticum, Festuca ovina, Carex duriuscula, Potentilla anserina, Sanguisorba officinalis, Iris lactea var. chinensis, Suaeda spp. and Sophora alopecuroides.
Dominant plants of the Alpine Meadow class are mainly cold -resistant perennials. Most are Kobresia spp. and forbs. The most important are Kobresia pygmaea, K. humilis, K. capillifolia, K. bellardii, K. littledalei, K. tibetica, Carex atrofusca, C. nivalis, C. stenocarpa, Blysmus sinocompressus, Poa alpina, Polygonum viviparum and P. macrophyllum.
Marsh classes are dominated mainly by Cyperaceae and Gramineae. The most important are Carex meyeriana, C. muliensis, C. appendiculata, C. stenophylla, Scirpus yagara, S. triqueter, Phragmites communis and Triglochin palustre.
Grassland deterioration - a worldwide problem - is severe in China. According to data published in 1994, the area of degraded grassland was 68 million hectares at the end of the 1980s - 27.5 percent of all grassland. It has increased remarkably in the past decade. Now 90 percent of grassland shows signs of deterioration, of which moderately degraded grassland is 130 million hectares (32.5 percent of total) and it is increasing by 20 million hectares each year.
The government is taking vigorous measures to deal with grassland degradation. According to the Planning Programme of National Ecological Environment Construction and Outline of Fifteenth Ten-Year Plan, the following should be achieved by 2010:
artificial grassland and improved grassland increased by 50 million hectares;
33 million hectares of degraded grassland and 20 million hectares of desertified land improved;
of 600 000 ha of eroded land controlled; and
6.7 million hectares of cropland (on >25° slope) returned to forest and grass.
Improvement is being undertaken by closure, with or without reseeding, and is associated with a very large programme of returning sloping arable land to pasture.
These grasslands and associated grazing systems are discussed in detail in a recent FAO publication (Suttie and Reynolds, 2003) and in the country Pasture Profiles of the five countries: Afghanistan, Bhutan, India, Nepal and Pakistan (Thieme, 2000; Wangdi, 2002; Misri, 1999; Pariyar, 1999; Dost, 1998). The Himalayas (see Plate 11.22), which form a barrier between the Tibetan plateau and the plains of India and Pakistan, run obliquely northwest to southeast for about 2 500 km. They contain the highest mountains in the world and protect the sub continent from cold air from the north. The grazing zone goes beyond the true Himalaya, through the foothills of the Karakoram to the Hindu Kush and most of Afghanistans mountains, to the shoulder of the Pamirs; in the west of Pakistan it includes the Balochistan uplands. The grazing lands of Nepal and Bhutan are at the eastern end of the zone.
Data subsetted from ESRI's World Worldsat Color
Shaded Relief Image.
Based on 1996 NOAA weather satelite images, with
enhanced shaded relief imagery and ocean floor relief data (bathymetry) to
provide a land and undersea topographic view. ESRI Data and Maps 1999 Voluma
Projection = Geographic (Lat/Long)
The designation employed and the
presentation of the material in the maps do not imply the expresion of any
opinion what so ever on the part of FAO concerning the legal or constitutional
status of any country, tirritory or sea area, or concerning the delimitation of
The Himalaya -Hindu Kush and Tibetan
There is a wide altitudinal range, from the plains at 200-300 m, to the snow line, which may be over 5 000 m in summer. Rainfall increases southeastwards; the most northerly, semi -arid parts are in the rain-shadow of the Himalaya, but thereafter the grasslands receive the monsoon, and Nepal and Bhutan are humid. Temperatures also rise with decreasing latitude, the pastures range from about 37°N to 27°N. There are, therefore, considerable differences in vegetation, in altitudinal bands and north-south changes.
The flora of the semi -arid west shows considerable Western and Central Asia n influences - the wild olive grows as far east as western Nepal. In all cases, the Himalayas abut the great alluvial plains, but at low altitude the vegetation changes as well. In Pakistan, the foothills are under Acacia forest; in the Nepal Terai there is dipterocarp (sal - Shorea robusta) forest, indicating higher rainfall and a warmer climate.
Afghanistan is at the convergence of the Mediterranean, the Tibetan and the Himalayan vegetation types, and towards the Pakistan border is influenced by the monsoon. For the vast majority of the grazing lands, low precipitation, with winter incidence, means that the main grazing vegetation type is Artemisia steppe. The mainstay of this vast area is Artemisia; the plant of the extensive grazing lands is generally referred to as A. maritima; the altitude range of the Artemisia steppe is from about 300 to 3 000 m. In neighbouring Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan, A. herba-alba, A. turanica and A. maikara are mentioned. Throughout most of its range, A. maritima is associated with Poa bulbosa; Stipa spp are frequent. There is a very short flush of annuals in spring, but these dry off quickly. Other sub-shrubs associated with Artemisia include species of Acantholimon, Acanthophyllum, Astragalus, Cousinia and Ephedra. In eastern areas close to Pakistan, where rainfall is adequate, species of Cymbopogon, Chrysopogon, Heteropogon, Aristida and other grasses of the monsoon areas occur, often associated with Acacia modesta and Olea cuspidata. By 2002, Afghanistan was in the ninth year of drought (see Plate 11.23); herds had been wiped out and the grasslands were in a sorry state. Although 2003 was better, the 2004 precipitation was below normal; however, there was good snowfall in the winter of 2004/2005 so the 2005 outlook was more promising. But the big reduction in small and large ruminants has resulted in much more of the rangelands being ploughed for crops, particularly in the north. Livestock recovery is likely to be slow.
In Nepal, at the other end of the precipitation range, tropical pasturelands are dominated by the grasses Phragmites karka, Saccharum spontaneum, Imperata cylindrica, Cymbopogon jwarancusa and Bothriochloa intermedia. Because of human activity, Imperata cylindrica is dominant throughout, and the weed Eupatorium sp. is gradually replacing many palatable plants. Subtropical pastures, associated with Pinus roxburghii forests, are heavily grazed and infested with Eupatorium adenophorum, Pteridium aquilinum, Urtica parviflora and Artemisia vulgaris. The main forage species are Arundinella bengalensis, A. nepalensis, Bothriochloa intermedia, B. pertusa, Chrysopogon gryllus, Cynodon dactylon, Heteropogon contortus, Apluda mutica, Brachiaria decumbens, Imperata cylindrica and Eragrostis pilosa. Temperate pastures are associated with oak or mixed broad-leafed species or bluepine (Pinus wallichianai), but, due to heavy grazing, less palatable species such as Arundinella hookeri are found. The common forages are Arundinella hookeri, Andropogon tristis, Poa spp., Chrysopogon gryllus, Dactylis glomerata, Stipa concinna, Festuca spp., Cymbopogon spp., Bothriochloa spp., Desmodium spp. and Agrostis micrantha. Subalpine pastures are associated with a variety of shrubs. Common genera are Berberis, Caragana, Hippophae, Juniperus, Lonicera, Potentilla, Rosa, Spiraea and Rhododendron. In many areas, Pipthantus nepalensis has invaded productive pastures once dominated by Danthonia spp. The common grasses are Elymus spp., Festuca spp., Stipa spp., Bromus himalaicus, Chrysopogon gryllus, Cymbopogon schoenanthus, and Koeleria cristata. Elymus nutans is of great importance at high elevation s. Alpine pastures are associated with Rhododendron. The main types of grazed vegetation are: Kobresia spp., Cortia depressa, and Carex -Agrostis-Poa associations.
Severely degraded grassland, Faryab,
Transhumant Kuchi flock after
rain, near Kandahar, Afghanistan.
The grasslands are exploited by both sedentary and transhumant groups (see Plate 11.24); the latter belong to minorities. Population pressure is very high throughout the zone and all suitable (along with much unsuitable) land is cultivated. Transhumant groups move between the plains in winter and alpine pastures in summer. The upward movement to cooler areas in summer provides better fodder and makes use of seasonal alpine and subalpine pastures, but it is also almost essential for small stock because they would suffer severely from disease and parasites were they to remain on the plains during the hot and very humid monsoon season. Overwintering in or near farming areas in the warm plains has several advantages: herders can buy crop residues (see Plate 11.25), feed grain and fodder and graze stubbles; they are close to markets for stock and produce, and can often find seasonal employment. Sedentary groups may send stock to summer pastures when these are accessible. Transhumants must herd their flocks through or between farms and forest land to reach their seasonal grazing pastures. In places that receive the monsoon, designated areas are set aside through the monsoon periods and, after the rains, hay is made from over-ripe herbage; it is of very low quality but is nevertheless highly prized. The grasslands, including hayfields, are extremely steep and trekking routes are difficult.
Traditional straw storage platform
and buffalo shelter in the Nepal Terai near Tarahara.
Herders and herding ethnic groups tend to specialize in either large or small ruminants; small stock are more important in the dry areas. Camels are raised in Afghanistan and Pakistans Balochistan, and are used as transport to highland grazing, but are not used further east. Yak are important in Ladakh in India, Nepal and Bhutan, and a few are present in the coldest parts of Afghanistan and Pakistan. In Bhutan and eastern India, some mithun (Bos gaurus) and their crosses with cattle are raised. Buffalo are kept in some farming areas, but are far more important on the plains. Indigenous breeds are used throughout, except in some urban areas, notably Quetta, where Afghan refugees have brought exotic black -and-white cattle and management skills.
In Nepal and Bhutan, buffalo graze the lowest pastures, cattle slightly higher, cattle × yak hybrids the high pastures, and pure yak the highest. Seasonal movements mean that the winter pastures of one group may be the summer pastures of that below.
It is generally agreed that Himalayan pastures are overstocked and degraded (Plate 11.23), although there is little historical evidence as to their former state. Regulations concerning forest grazing, stock numbers, seasons for using various pastures, as well as grazing fees, were codified in the late nineteenth century for India (including present-day Pakistan), but with increasing population and political pressure these rules are not always observed.
The Himalayan lands have been described above. This is based on Misri (1999). India has the largest cattle herd of any country, 226 million (FAOSTAT, 2004) and also has 97 million buffalo; these are mainly raised by sedentary groups and fed on opportunistic grazing, crop residues and, in some cases, usually irrigated, fodder. The irrigated tracts of northern India have intensive fodder production for stall-fed stock, and a similar situation is found in the irrigated tracts of Pakistan.
The grazing of animals takes place on a variety of grazing lands. Pastures and grasslands have often resulted from degradation and destruction of forests until savannahs are formed. True pastures as climax vegetation are found only in subalpine and alpine pastures in the higher altitudes of the Himalayas. Dabadghao and Shankaranarayan (1973) have grasslands classified into five types.
Sehima - Dichanthium grasslands are spread over the Central Indian plateau, Chota Nagpur plateau and Aravallis. The elevation ranges between 300 and 1 200 m.
Dichanthium - Cenchrus - Lasiurus grasslands cover northern parts of Gujarat, Rajasthan, Aravalli ranges, southwestern Uttar Pradesh, Delhi and Punjab. The elevation ranges between 150 and 300 m.
Phragmites - Saccharum - Imperata grasslands are in the Gangetic plains, the Brahamputra Valley and the plains of Punjab. The elevation ranges between 300 and 500 m.
Themeda - Arundinella grasslands are found in the States of Manipur, Assam, West Bengal, Uttar Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh and Jammu and Kashmir. The elevation ranges between 350 and 1 200 m.
Temperate - Alpine grasslands are found above 2 100 m and include the temperate and cold arid areas of Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal and the northeastern states.
The transhumant system is prevalent in the Himalayan region. However, this system still exists in some states situated in the plains, such as Rajasthan (which abuts on similar desert zones of Pakistan), Madhya Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Gujrat and Uttar Pradesh.
The rural system involves free grazing on community grazing lands and forests, supplemented with green fodder cultivated in the farmers fields. During lean periods, such as summer and autumn, tree leaf fodder is also used. These monsoon grasslands are only productive during the rainy season, and the dry season is long and severe; their feeding quality, like that of all grasslands with marked wet and dry seasons, is mediocre when they are young and poor thereafter.
The Himalayan lands have been described above. In the arid regions of Pakistan (Dost, 1998) complexity, variability and uncertainty characterize the grazing systems. Livestock grazing practices in the Thal, Cholistan, Kohistan and Tharparkar desert areas are similar. In early winter, people leave their villages in search of better grazing and migrate into irrigated areas. In the early monsoon season, when forage is abundant, during July-November, they return to their villages and leave their animals to graze. Private livestock are allowed to graze state-owned rangelands after paying nominal grazing fees. Cattle, sheep, goats and camels graze the Tharparker and Kohistan rangelands, but buffalo are not common. The great majority of large ruminants, however, are not kept on grazing lands but in the agricultural tracts, mainly on irrigated holdings, where they can graze after crops are harvested (see Plate 11.26); usually they are stall-fed on crop residues (see Plate 11.27), cultivated fodder (which is grown on a very large scale, for example fodder oats - see Plate 11.28) and, for commercial dairying, concentrates. Production systems involving intensive fodder production are described by Dost (2003). Pakistan has some 25 million buffalo (India and Pakistan combined have 71% of the worlds buffalo) and 23 million cattle (FAOSTAT, 2004), largely fed on-farm.
Sheep grazing stubble, with
Acacia nilotica on field edges, in the Punjab, Pakistan.
Delivering fodder to urban livestock,
Harvesting oat fodder, Punjab,
The country is largely pastoral, with 45 percent of its land being grazing and pasture and 20 percent desert (Masri, 2001). The climate is typically Mediterranean and precipitation is low, decreasing towards the interior. Most of the grazing land is in the semi -desert and desert (badia) with less than 200 mm rainfall; there is a little mountain grazing; plains with over 200 mm rainfall are now under rainfed crops. Cattle are kept in the agricultural areas but are absent from the main grazing lands.
From earliest times until the end of the Second World War, Syria n grazing lands were under tribal control, population density was low and the herders were nomadic, moving seasonally with their flocks. Pastoral communities evolved codes of laws and customs and the organization of groups and subgroups based on family relationship. Each group used to maintain grazing rights on certain resources in its traditional land as hema (pasture reserved for use in drought or emergency) and negotiated when necessary with the other groups for movement of its livestock to areas of more favourable climatic conditions during periods of drought. The chief was the first among equals, and unanimously obeyed and respected by members. The social structure of the pastoral groups was close to a cooperative organization.
Large areas of grazing land were only accessible once the autumn rains had fallen, and herds had to leave them once surface supplies of water ran out, so the pastures were rested for a long period of the year. There was no external feed source so stock numbers were limited to what could be carried through the lean season on available pasture and water. There was no rainfed cropping on marginal lands.
After the war, the situation changed rapidly. The central authorities became much stronger and the tribal system was disintegrating. Motor transport, introduced during the war, allowed transport of goods, water and feed, making large areas of grazing accessible for much of the year. Grazing land was nationalized and became an open -access resource with no supervision over its use. Settlement of the Bedouin became official policy; this greatly improved their access to medical care, education, water and other services, and led on the one hand to a rapidly increasing population, and on the other a great reduction in mobile herding. Cheap cereals allowed increasing numbers of stock to be kept through the lean season.
Syrian rangeland has become degraded
due to overgrazing.
Marginal land was increasingly cleared for rainfed cropping. Yields are low and uncertain; if they seem too low or the crop is unlikely to mature because of drought, it will be grazed. Clearing of grazing land was encouraged by granting land rights to those who developed it.
Sheep are the main grazing livestock; the only local breed, the Awasii, is a milch sheep that is well adapted to harsh desert conditions, and its fat tail provides a reserve of nutrients for periods of feed shortage. They graze in the badia from late autumn till late spring, with supplements, then they migrate to the rainfed and irrigated areas, clearing all crop residues (cereal, cotton, beet and summer vegetables) before returning again to the badia. The main constraint to sheep production is degradation of grazing land (Plate 11.29), which increases dependency on supplementary feed.
The subsidized state feed policy puts pressure on the already degraded pasture through an increase in sheep numbers, which get most of their food as concentrates but continue to eat any available herbage. The sheep population was 2.9 million in 1961; it rose to 5.5 million in 1971, 10.5 million by 1981 and peaked at 15.5 million in 1991; it then fell to just over 10 million, and for the past seven years has been just over 13 million (FAOSTAT, 2004). Goats are the second most numerous livestock; their numbers rose from 439 000 in 1961 to 1 million in 1981, and have remained at that level. Two main types of goat are kept; the Shami goat is a milch breed, and they are kept around homesteads; the other is the mountain goat, which grazes in the mountain ranges.
Before the Second World War the Syrian badia was in good condition, climax plants like Salsola vermiculata, Atriplex leucoclada, Artemisia herbaalba and Stipa barbata were widespread and flocks of gazelle were present. Herders went to the badia with the onset of rains in autumn and had to leave when the water supply dried up in late Spring. Range livestock depended on grazing until 1958, when concentrate feeds were introduced. The rate of concentrate use increased to 25, 50 and 75 percent in the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s, respectively.
About 90 percent, or 80 771 km2, of the Kingdom is grazing land, 69 077 km2 of which receives less than 100 mm of rainfall, and 1 000 km2 of marginal grazing with 100-200 mm annual rainfall. Natural and man-made forests cover 760 km2, out of 1 300 km2 registered as forests (Al-Jaloudy, 2001). There are also about 500 km2 of state-owned land used for grazing in mountainous areas.
The average altitude of the highlands ranges from 600 m in the north to 1 000 m in the middle and 1 500 m in the south. There is a semi -arid zone (350- 500 mm annual rainfall) with a small subhumid zone (over 500 mm annual rainfall). The Arid Zone comprises the plains between the badia and the highlands. Rainfall ranges between 200 mm in the east and 350 mm in the west. Rainfed crops are mainly barley (in areas with 200-300 mm rainfall) wheat and fruit trees (in areas with between 300 and 350 mm rainfall). Badia (Eastern Desert), which covers about 8 million hectares - 90 percent of the Kingdom - has very sparse vegetation cover and an annual rainfall of less than 200 mm. In the past it was only used for grazing. In the last two decades, however, 20 000 ha have been irrigated, using underground water.
Jordan is on the eastern margins of the Mediterranean climatic zone. This climate is characterized by hot, dry summers and cool, wet winters; more than 90 percent of the country receives less than 200 mm annual precipitation.
There are four bioclimatic zones.
Mediterranean: This region is restricted to the highlands from 700-1750 m above sea level. The rainfall ranges from 300-600 mm. The minimum annual temperature ranges from 5° to 10°C.
Irano-Turanian: A narrow strip that surrounds all the Mediterranean ecozone except in the north; it is treeless. The vegetation is mainly small shrubs and bushes such as Artemisia herba-alba, and Anabasis syriaca. Altitudes range from 500 to 700 m, and rainfall ranges from 150 to 300 mm.
Saharo-Arabian: This is the eastern desert or badia and comprises almost 80 percent of Jordan. It is flat except for a few hills or small volcanic mountains. Altitude is in the 500-700 m range. The mean annual rainfall ranges from 50 to 200 mm, and mean annual minimum temperatures range from 15° to 2°C. Vegetation is dominated by small shrubs and small annuals in the wadi beds.
Sudanian: It starts from the northern part of the Dead Sea and ends at the tip of the Gulf of Aqaba. The vegetation is characterized by a tropical tree element, such as Acacia spp. and Ziziphus spina-christi, in addition to some shrubs and annual herbs.
Badia (semi -desert)
The most significant use of this zone is pastoralism. Sheep and goats graze the forage produced on the desert range in the short period following rainfall; precipitation is less than 100 mm/year, which falls off towards the east and the south till it reaches 50 mm or less. Most are state lands. Artemisia herba- alba, Retama raetam, Achillea fragrantissim a and Poa bulbosa are common in the wadi beds, while the unpalatable Anabasis sp. is present in most places. Despite its deterioration, this is the main grazing land of Jordan. The average annual dry matter production is 40 kg/ha in normal years; this can rise to 150 kg/ha in protected areas and range reserves. Steppes were used generally for grazing, but it is estimated that about 90 percent of the steppe has been privatized and ploughed for barley.
There are estimated to be 2 200 000 head of sheep and goats in Jordan. Nomadic grazing has declined to less than 10 percent of the sheep and goats, which belong to less than 5 percent of herders. The ratio of semi -settled herds has increased to more than 70 percent of sheep and goats. The remaining small ruminants (about 20 percent) follow a system that is mixed with agriculture, especially in the west of the Kingdom.
Small ruminant production systems developed gradually in the middle of the past century as a result of a number of changes: increasing settlement of the nomadic Bedouin in the marginal areas; a change to sheep and goat raising instead of camels; deterioration of traditional grazing systems (eastward and westward trips); spread of the use of vehicles for movement of flocks and equipment; and increased dependence on imported feed.
The traditional mobile system prevails in the arid to semi -arid east and south. Herds move from one place to another, on foot or by truck, looking for grazing or water. The sheep depend on natural herbage as their main source of feed, in addition to the feed given in winter for a period that varies with availability of herbage.
In the semi -nomadic system, sheep depend partially on grazing and crop by-products. They move to land adjacent to the fields and spend the winter around the houses, where they survive on the feed given to them.
In the settled (semi -extensive) system, stock are kept in fattening units but graze in the morning and return to their units in the afternoon. They feed on crop by-products and the adjacent natural grazing. Supplementary feed is given as required.
In the intensive system, sheep are kept on permanent farms with modern facilities and equipment. They are given balanced feed, and health care is provided.
Existing statistics indicate that there are 2 200 000 small ruminants, which depend for half their food requirements on imported feed. Natural grazing supplies only 25-30 percent of their requirements, as its productivity has declined to half of its potential and the area has decreased. In the past, the availability of fodder and water, and the search for them, were the limiting factors for movement of herds. Nowadays, food and water are transported to herds wherever they are, and it is possible to quickly transport the herds themselves. In 1930, the sheep herd was 229 100 and remained at a similar level until 1950; by 1970 it had doubled; and by 1990 had reached 1.5 million, where it currently stands. Goat numbers in 1930 were 289 500; they have risen in recent years, to 479 000 in 1990 and 547 500 in 2003, but to nothing like the extent of sheep, which are far better suited to intensive fattening.
Existing policies are not comprehensive and are incompatible with national needs and development plans. Feed subsidy policies from the 1980s until 1997 brought about the unusual increase in sheep and goats numbers and the deterioration in local production of feed. Also allocation of wide tracts of the best range to private ownership caused their deterioration and desertification.
Pastoral communities informally claim common tribal rights and enjoy free access and use of natural resources in their rangelands, but these claims are only recognized in settled areas. In all the unsettled areas the state asserts ownership regardless of customary tribal claims. State claims over grazing lands changed the traditional welfare system, caused the breakdown of resource allocation mechanisms and transformed secured-access rights into secured-tenure rights. Consequently, customary management rules are often no longer being enforced. State appropriation did not deny local communities access to their traditional pasture, but favoured a situation of open -access to grazing and expansion of barley cultivation.
Turkey lies between 36° and 42°N and 26° and 45°E; its pasture area is 124 000 km2 but it is declining (Karagöz, 2001). Pastures belong to the state and are open for common use. According to the (1998) Pasture Law, grazing will be assigned to municipalities or village communities once their boundaries are determined and certified; thereafter carrying capacity and duration of grazing will be determined for each area, then the villages will be given the right to graze the determined and certified areas for a given period with a set number of animals.
Turkey has an average altitude of 1 131 m; low (0-250 m), medium (250- 1 000 m) and high altitude areas (>1 000 m) constitute 10.0, 34.5 and 55.5 percent of the country, respectively. The European section is fertile hilly land. The Asian part consists of an inner high plateau, with mountain ranges along the north and south coasts.
Average annual temperatures vary between 18° and 20°C on the south coast, fall to 14° to 15°C on the west coast, and, depending on elevation, fluctuate between 4° and 18°C in the interior. Substantial temperature variations are observed between the coast and the interior in winter. Winters are cold in the east and interior, but relatively warm on the south coast. Average temperatures in January and February are around 0°C in the east, 5° to 7°C on the north and west coasts, and 8° to 12°C on the south coast.
Heavy rainfall is general on mountains facing the sea. Towards the interior, rainfall decreases. Rains begin in autumn and continue until late spring on the Marmara, Mediterranean and Aegean coasts. In the interior and southeastern Anatolia, rainfall is mostly in spring.
Ruminant livestock consist of 11 million cattle, 29.4 million sheep and 8 060 000 goats. Cattle numbers have not changed in the last 30 years, while sheep, goat and buffalo numbers decreased steadily. Most livestock are still under traditional management relying on extensive grazing. Farms are small and fragmented, with 85 percent under 10 ha.
About 71 percent of all pure breeds are in the central-north, Aegean, Marmara and central-south regions; elsewhere extensive stock rearing is general, with local sheep and cattle breeds. The Mediterranean region is the least developed for livestock, but has 25 percent of the goats.
At the beginning of the twentieth century the population of Turkey was 12 million, livestock numbers were low and there was no serious pasture management problem. After the First World War, there were 440 000 km2 of natural grazing and about 20 million livestock units. After the Second World War, animal numbers remained the same, but grazing was reduced to 430 000 km2. Since then there has been a sharp increase in animal numbers and decrease in pasture. The trend continues; nowadays the number of animals grazing on Turkeys pastures is three to four times their carrying capacity (Figure 11.1 shows the changes in pasture area in Turkey).
The most productive pastures are in the east of the Black Sea region, where herders move in transhumance between lowland and alpine grasslands. East Anatolia has 37 percent of the pasture, grazing pressure is lower, so pasture condition is better; transhumance is also practiced here. Southeast Anatolia is one of the most heavily grazed zones; pastures dry out at the end of June; some of the livestock are moved to eastern Anatolia or to high mountains of the southeastern Taurus. In Mediterranean and Aegean Regions, the principal vegetation above 500 m is maquis, which is unsuitable for cattle. About a quarter of the goat population is in this region and are taken to higher elevations for 7-8 months. Marmara is an area of intensive animal husbandry. Central Anatolia has the least productive grazing lands; annual rainfall is between 250-500 mm; pastures dry out very quickly; grazing pressure is high; and pastures are steppic. Central Anatolia is a high plateau with few high mountains, so livestock graze fallows and stubble in summer.
Pasture area changes over time in
The land tenure system is a major constraint to grassland management. Common areas are grazed free of charge, so are not managed properly. Boundaries of pastures are not clearly determined nor assigned to village communities.
The number of people in agriculture declined to 34 percent in 2000. Young rural people spend up to ten months annually in cities. Labour requirements are met by hiring shepherds or modifying the system to more labour-effective strategies. As the rural population declines, specialist animal producers are increasing their herd sizes. Rotational grazing is ignored because it requires extra investment. Herdsmen are well aware of its benefits, but continue to graze all parts of the grasslands from early spring until winter.
Reduction of fallow has been a major government concern over the past 25 years, and has given fruitful results in increasing forage and grain legume production. The area of fallow was 4 900 000 ha in 1998, compared with 8 400 000 ha in 1979.
Alfalfa (Medicago sativa) has long been grown in Turkey, which is one of the centres of genetic diversity of the crop. There are alfalfa fields up to 50 years old in the east. "Kayseri" - the oldest registered and most widely used cultivar - gives 3-4 cuts under irrigation. Average hay yield of alfalfa is about 7 t/ha. It is the major fodder crop of the irrigated areas and is also cultivated under rainfed conditions in the east of the country. Alfalfa (Plate 11.30) is replaced by sainfoin, Onobrychis viciifolia (Plate 11.31), under rainfed conditions, where it is more productive and seed production is much easier.
This chapter has attempted to cover some important grassland areas to complement the main chapters. For more details, reference should be made to the FAO Web site or the CD referred to in the opening paragraph.
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