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Pasture Development: Needs and
development of pastures is of immense importance for livestock and therefore
for human beings. Pastoral agriculture is developed in tropical parts of
Australia, Africa and the Americas. Pastoralists made all out efforts to
practice on different plants and environments as far as they were able, and
their activities were mostly confined to regions where grassland or grassy
woodlands occurred naturally. In fact, it has only been within the last fifty
years that man began to study these tropical grasslands.
effort towards the development of improved grass-legume pastures has been
almost entirely within the last thirty years. Australian researchers have been fortunate enough to be
given the resources to contribute to this field. Consequently, there has been a
marked increase in the areas sown to improved tropical pastures in Northern
Australia. This has resulted in a new industry in the production of seed of
tropical legumes and grasses.
In the tropics,
the flatter regions of fertile soils are limited in area and are usually
preferred for cultivation. It is only the very extensive tracts of infertile
and usually the hilly region unsuitable for cropping that at present provide
grazing for most livestock and ruminants in the tropics. The areas receiving
adequate rainfall offer the greatest challenge for pasture research to develop
improved pasture systems capable of greatly augmenting agricultural production.
In the vast arid and semi-arid areas lying in the tropics, where there is
insufficient rainfall, the establishment of improved pastures has become more
complicated day by day.
semiarid grazing lands are being destroyed at a faster rate than the capacity
to regenerate. The conversion of productive areas into deserts is seen around
the edges of the Sahara, the deserts of the Middle- East, Pakistan, Mongolia,
Australia and Western North America.
populated countries like India and Thailand and areas like Java, most farms are
small (about 5 to 10 ha) and intensively cropped, and livestock are reared
mainly for drought purposes. In these areas, land is considered scarce
has led to the massive destruction of pastures in some places which has caused
grave economic loss to nomadic populations. It has also turned non-desert areas
into deserts, a process termed desertification which is increasing at an
In the past,
grazing animals were kept in check by natural factors such as rainfall and
consequently by the availability of water. However in modern times, there has
been little effort to manage the grasslands and to let them periodically rest
and recover. Rotational grazing together with overstocking has led to
decreasing productivity, erosion, a drying up of springs, wells and rivers, and
the growth of man-made deserts.
countries, in recent times, desert like tracts have appeared because of human
misuse of vegetation and soil through overgrazing. In many parts of East
Africa, West Africa and Madagascar, the area of deserts is spreading at an
alarming rate. Due to overgrazing, vegetation and wildlife rapidly disappear by
erosion and give way to deserts.
certainly affects both the growth and the botanical composition of pastures.
Serious damage is more likely to occur when the soil is wet. The degree of
damage varies with the structure of the space, in particular whether it has met
or not. It also varies with the nature of the soil.
The extent to which treading is
dispersed or concentrated will be important and will vary with the tendency of
species to flock on herd to make and follow well established tracks and the speed and weight of the
animals involved. Both kinds of damage to plant and soil are greatly increased
when the animal has hooves and when it is accelerating. Hooves not only possess
sharp cutting edges, but they carry the weight of animal on a very small
surface. This causes high downward pressure when the animals walk and
horizontal forces when they run or accelerate.
Keeping in mind the present state of
the world’s pastures and their important place in the ecosystem, it is
imperative to comprehend the important role pastures play in stabilizing the
water cycle and preserving the soil. It is also equally important to understand
that pastures cannot exist without either of these renewable resources.
Pastures not only facilitate evaporation but also keep the soil porous.
Important salt nutrients both from the air and the rains, essential for vegetable
and animal life, also flow to the soil and subsoil water. If the pastures are
destroyed, there is a great possibility that the fertile soil layer will
disappear. When the vegetation dies, so do the animals.