Grasses of the Kruger National Park and surrounding Bushveld, by Veronica Roodt

Grasses of the Kruger National Park and surrounding Bushveld, by Veronica Roodt.

Grasses of the Kruger National Park and surrounding Bushveld, by Veronica Roodt.

Expert Veronica Roodt introduces grasses of the Kruger National Park and the surrounding Bushveld.

Veronica Roodt  

Nutritive value of grasses:

What is nutritive value? Nutritive value is usually linked to the presence of mineral elements, the percentage of crude protein and the amount of non-structural carbohydrates present in the grass. Minerals: Game obtain their mineral requirements from their food, water and from natural salt licks, all of which are directly linked to the mineral content of the soil. The most important minerals are calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, sodium, chloride, iron, iodine, copper, cobalt, selenium and zinc. Of these, the two most important elements are calcium and phosphorus, both vital for the formation of skeletal bone. A deficiency leads to poorly calcified teeth and bones and weak horns. An excess of calcium inhibits the absorption of copper, zinc and manganese. Phosphorus is necessary for the normal ossification of the skeleton, teeth, horns and tusks. Areas with soil low in phosphorus (such as Botswana) often produce elephants with smaller tusks. When herbivores experience a calcium deficiency, they tend to eat soil rich in calcium (natural salt licks) or they chew on bones. Protein: During droughts, the protein content of woody species does not drop as much as that of grasses. Grazers become affected long before browsers do. Protein deficiencies lead to loss of condition and if the animal is pregnant it may result in underdeveloped or stillborn young. Grasses that grow under pod-bearing trees like Acacia spp. are often higher in protein content because the tree acts as a nutrient pump, bringing nutrients to the surface. This happens by means of nodules present on the roots of pod-bearing plants that 'fix' nitrogen and transport it via the roots to the plant. The decomposition of vegetable matter underneath the tree further enriches the soil. Buffalo grass (Panicum maximum), which is very high in protein value, often grows under large Acacia trees. Crude protein values of 8-12% are considered very high for grasses. From 5-8% is fair to good and below 5% is low. Non-structural carbohydrates: The structural carbohydrates in grasses, such as cellulose and lignin, do not contribute to the nutritive value. However, non-structural carbohydrates are essential for the production of energy. A deficiency will lead to loss of condition. When non-structural carbohydrates ferment, they produce fatty acids, which become available as a source of energy. Therefore, ruminants do not require fat. If they do ingest fat, however, it is also converted to fatty acids, resulting in an immediate source of energy.

Sporobolus fimbriatus: Bushveld dropseed grass

Afrikaans: Bosveldfynsaadgras; German: Großes Rispengras

ANNUAL/PERENNIAL: Perennial
GROWTH FORM: Tufted, with short, oblique rhizomes
SUCCESSIONAL STATUS: Climax
ECOLOGICAL STATUS: Decreaser
LEAF YIELD: High
PALATABILITY: Very palatable
NUTRITIVE VALUE: High
HABITAT: Sweetveld. Shady areas in woodland, also in disturbed areas
SOIL TYPE: Heavy, well-drained soils
INDICATOR: It indicates stability and good veld condition

Description: It is easily identified by its spearhead-shaped inflorescence, its dense basal leaf cover and by the fact that it is so robust and tall (about 1,8m). It retains its shape until late in the dry season.

Where to see it: It is most often found in shady areas and it prefers heavy, well-drained soils and rather moist conditions. In the Kruger Park it occurs mainly in riverine woodland.

Nutritive value fodder: It is a sought-after fodder species with a high leaf yield and high grazing value, particularly in arid sweetveld areas. It is especially well utilised in its young stages, since it hardens with age. Although it is very prominent in the habitat of hippos it is usually ignored by them, probably because it is so tall.

Veld management: Its presence generally indicates stability and good veld condition. However, when it is not grazed at all, it tends to form vigorous tufts and has the ability to shade out shorter competitors, becoming dominant. This kind of tufted ground cover can become highly erodable and may also lead to long-term degeneration of the veld. This underlines the fact that moderate grazing pressure is better than no grazing pressure at all.

Did you know? The Southern Sotho pulverise the seeds to make a porridge. The fermented seeds are used for making beer.

This is an excerpt from the guide Grasses of the Kruger National Park and surrounding Bushveld, by Veronica Roodt.

Title: Grasses of the Kruger National Park and surrounding Bushveld
Author: Veronica Roodt
Veronica Roodt Publications
Hartbeespoort, South Africa 2011
ISBN 978-0-9869926-7-4
Softcover, 17x24 cm, 96 pages, throughout colour photos and images

Roodt, Veronica im Namibiana-Buchangebot

Grasses of the Kruger National Park and surrounding Bushveld

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Expert Veronica Roodt introduces grasses of the Kruger National Park and the surrounding Bushveld.

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