Temporal and spatial dynamics of mineral levels of forage, soil and cattle blood serum in two semi-arid savannas of South Africa
In this study, we examined temporal and spatial dynamics of minerals of forage, soil and cattle serum in two savannas (valley and plain) of South Africa. The aims were to explore the relationships between ecosystem components, and plan communal grazing and fodder flow for sustainable livestock production. In each area, grazing sites near, at intermediate distance from (middle) and far from homesteads were selected. In the valley land, site interacted with season to influence local variations (P < 0.05) of soil calcium and microelements. In the plain lands, local variations occurred for soil phosphorus and magnesium. At the large scale, most macro-minerals showed differences between the valley and plain lands. In the valley areas, forage calcium differed (P < 0.05) locally in the dry season, whereas in the plain areas, potassium and phosphorus showed local variations (P < 0.05) in the wet season. Seasonal variations of most forage elements were significant within each local site of both study areas. All forages were deficient in phosphorus and copper. Cattle serum from the valley area had low iron concentrations. The study concluded that biotic and abiotic factors may influence the distribution of soil and forage elements, but their effects may vary between the two areas. Rangeland improvement and supplementation strategies are suggested to sustain animal production.
Keywords: forage, livestock, macro-minerals, micro-minerals, season, serum, topography