Vegetation types in South Africa, known as biomes, have been delimited according to the following criteria:

  • similarities in plant communities with regard to the occurrence and degree of prevalence of species,
  • structure with regard to height, and
  • the sharing of ecological processes, such as mean annual rainfall and rain season, occurrence of frost, natural herbivores and frequency of lightening.

Biomosome™ seed mixtures have been developed on BIOME principles.  They represent a significant advance on the all purpose veld seed mixtures, which are generally available.

First Aid

Before commencing rehabilitation it is vital to establish the cause of degradation and to take remedial action.

Operation

Preparation of rehabilitation sites required loosened soil to provide a seedbed and to allow water penetration and aeration.  The implements and tractors available on the majority of farms and rehabilitation sites usually suffice.  Some modification may be necessary.

Timing is important, as effective preparation will require that the soil is moist and there must be enough time for the seed to germinate and seedlings establish before the next dry season.  In arid areas this is not always possible and good results have been obtained with seed germinating in the following season.

In arid areas a basin effect has proved effective, where the soil is broken and then left at intervals along the contour.  This can be achieved manually with hand tools.  If the terrain is suitable, tractor drawn implements may be used.  A short top link and manual control of the hydraulic depth, alternating two metres in and one metre out will give the desired effect.  Alternatively the tractor’s hydraulics can be deactivated and the alternating insertion and extraction achieved by mounting an off-centre wheel on to the tillage implement being used.  A basin plough works on this principle.

On light soils a scooping effect is preferable.  For this a disk or duck foot tine is effective.  On heavier soils, 20% clay or more, a ripper tine has been found more effective as the smearing effect of the scooping attachments can form a thin but highly compacted layer, which reduces water penetration.

Row spacing will vary with rainfall, decreasing from tractor width in arid areas to 0.5 metres in high rainfall areas.  In higher rainfall areas, not only is the establishment of the desired sown seed an objective, but suppression of undesirable volunteer plants, by the introduced species is equally important.

Immediately after the soil has been loosened seed is dispensed on to the tilled areas.  The top layer of soil with the superficially applied seed must then be rolled into a firm seedbed by means of driving over the area with tractor wheels in the rows.  If the work is being done manually, then tramp down to firm the seedbed applying full body weight.   Broadcasting organic matter such as kraal manure over the area is beneficial.  This is particularly helpful on eroded sites and similar situations, in which the organic rich A horizon of the soil has been lost or degraded.

Aftercare

Brush packing will protect the seedlings from being grazed before they have been able to establish and achieve the stabilisation for which they are intended.

Biomosome™ reclamation mixtures are designed to fit into the plant succession process. In due course other species will establish on the sites from the natural seed bank in the soil, from seed from surrounding vegetation or otherwise introduced.

Management of the succession process is important to maximise the benefit of the rescue effort.  Management is equally important to prevent the site from reverting to the formerly degraded state.

 

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