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dc.contributor.advisor Ayisi, K. K. Motshekga, Lesego Minah
dc.contributor.other Isselstein, J.
dc.contributor.other Ndleve, S. 2023-04-20T07:50:10Z 2023-04-20T07:50:10Z 2022
dc.description Thesis (Ph.D. Agriculture (Plant Production)) -- University of Limpopo, 2022 en_US
dc.description.abstract Livestock has evolved to serve as the foundation and backbone of human well-being, and it is an important component of South Africa's agricultural sector. The small stock such as sheep (Ovis aries) in Limpopo province has remained a significant and multifunctional livelihood strategy for the majority of the rural and resource-poor people. Factors such as population growth, urbanization, rising per capita income and changes in consumer tastes and preferences are all contributing to gradual increases in livestock product consumption and demand. According to the 2019 Abstract of Agricultural Statistics, South Africa is an importer of sheep and sheep products. If the sheep production industry in the province could pursue this opportunity and realize its full production potential then increased production could stimulate economic growth and development, particularly from the communal and smallholder sector. Objective one of the study seeks to describe the demographic and socio-economic characteristics of communal and smallholder sheep farmers, identify sheep feeding practices and describe the constraints that hinder the sustainable productive growth of communal and smallholder sheep systems. Data were collected from one hundred and twenty (120) sheep farmers using a structured questionnaire across three agro-ecological zones of Limpopo province. Results revealed that overall, the majority of sheep farmers were males (78%) and farmers were above 60 years old (48%). Mean sheep flock size differed significantly between communal (24.74) and smallholder (62.36) farmers. Indigenous crossbreeds were the dominant breed kept by communal (86%) and smallholder (77%) farmers. The majority of communal and smallholder farmers (90% and 96%, respectively) reared their sheep under an extensive system with rangelands as the main source of feed. As a result, they experience a critical feed gap during June and September, the mid-winter to early spring until the first rains. The findings of the study revealed that feed shortages and diseases were ranked as the first and second production constraints by sheep farmers in both the production systems. In rangeland-dependent feeding systems, insufficient feed to meet animal demands create a feed gap, which is a critical factor that limits sheep productivity and causes xxi land degradation through overgrazing. Improved forages have been widely advocated as a critical step toward resolving this challenge. However, the adoption and utilization of improved technologies such as on-farm forage legume production by these farmers have been very low, contributing to the province's low sheep productivity. An extension of objective one of this study used primary data which was collected from a sample of 120 sheep farmers to determine the factors that influence the adoption of on-farm forage legume production and the perceived barriers to adoption by communal and smallholder sheep farmers in the Limpopo province. A Probit regression model and Principal Component Analysis (PCA) were used to analyze the data. The study revealed that the adoption of on-farm forage production by communal and smallholder sheep farmers is influenced by several factors, including gender, farming experience, knowledge of forage legume production, source of income, membership in farmer associations, access to extension services and farm size. Farmer perceived barriers to adoption of on-farm forage legume production identified by this study were low institutional support, lack of resources, lack of knowledge, shortage of water and objectives of the farmer. It is therefore recommended that intensive and high-quality extension support in partnership with industry associations and stakeholders is required for communal and smallholder farmers to improve forage technology awareness, training and promote on-farm forage production to transform communal and smallholder sheep feeding practices. In the face of climate change, identifying forage species with a high potential to mitigate winter feed gap challenges under more variable climatic conditions is critical. Trifolium and Vicia species are forage legumes well known for producing high-quality forage, particularly protein, which is deficient in the majority of feed resources used for sheep feeding during the winter season. Climate change-induced stresses from rising temperatures, which these winter annual forage legumes are likely to face, necessitate agronomic and breeding approaches to improve their adaptability. Lack of knowledge on how these climate change mitigation approaches influence the productivity of winter annual forage legumes in the Pietersburg Plateau of Limpopo province prompted objective two of this study. A three-year field experiment laid in a split-split plot design with four replications was conducted to measure the effects of planting date, cultivar and harvest stage on the physiological traits associated with biomass production, forage quality, nodulation activity and xxii nutritive value of annual clover and vetch species. The results showed that the planting date and harvest stage had a significant effect on leaf gaseous exchange and biomass production. A non-significant effect of planting date on nutritive value was observed. Intercellular CO2 concentration, transpiration rate, stomatal conductance, instantaneous water use efficiency and intrinsic water use efficiency in cultivars increased with delayed planting, while a decrease in photosynthetic rate, shoot DM, root DM and nodule DM was observed. Overall among the cultivars, Resal, Alex, Elite, Laser and Dr Baumans showed more consistency in terms of leaf gaseous exchange, biomass production and quality traits under planting date 1 and varying harvest stages. Investment in the year-round fodder flow establishment with high-quality forages is important in supporting sustainable sheep production. Forage legume-grass rotation systems are important not only for green fodder production of high crude protein, mineral and vitamin content throughout the year but also for enhanced soil fertility to reduce the nitrogen (N) fertilizer requirements. Accurate estimates of forage yields on the farm are required for fodder flow planning to ensure the seasonal distribution of fodder throughout the year. Objective three of the study was a no-tillage, short-term rotation experiment conducted to determine the growth and nutritive value of forage sorghum, planted after the winter annual forage legumes in combination with nitrogen application and to validate the performance of the APSIM-grain sorghum crop model in simulating forage sorghum growth and biomass production under different N rates. The treatments were planting date (January and February) and N source from inorganic N fertilizer (0 kg N ha-1, 60 kg N ha-1, 120 kg N ha-1, 180 kg N ha-1) and forage legume N residues (Alex, Capello, Dr Baumans, Elite, Hanka, Laser, Linkarus, Opolska, Resal and Timok) arranged in a randomized complete block design with four replicates. The findings of this study showed a significant response of forage sorghum growth and nutritive value to planting date. Delayed planting reduced plant height (11%), stem diameter (18%), LAI (6.7%), chlorophyll content (18%), NDVI (2.5%), photosynthetic rate (38%) and biomass production (8%). Delayed planting further reduced crude protein, acid detergent fiber and N yield. Nitrogen source from inorganic N at 60 kg N ha-1, 120 kg N ha-1, 180 kg N ha-1 and residual N from annual clover and vetch cultivars had a significant effect on morphological, physiological, yield and nutritive value parameters of forage sorghum. xxiii Generally, legume N residue effects on all the studied parameters of forage sorghum were similar to the inorganic N fertilizer of 60 kg N ha-1. However, the effects differed widely according to the species and cultivar of the legume. Resal, Laser, Elite Capello and Dr Baumans N residue consistently showed greater effects than other legume residues. They consistently outperformed inorganic 60 kg N ha-1 on the most measured parameters. The results confirm that annual clover-forage sorghum and vetch-forage sorghum rotation have huge potential to reduce the cost and negative environmental effects associated with inorganic N use in forage prediction systems. Regarding the evaluation of the potential of the APSIM grain legume model to simulate forage legume DM and plant height, in general, the model performed well and accurately in predicting the shoot dry matter accumulation and plant height under 0 kg N ha-1, 60 kg N ha-1 and 120 kg N ha-1. However, it underestimated both these parameters at 180 kg N ha-1 implying that the application of N up to 180 kg N ha-1 is not necessary. APSIM-grain module was able to accurately predict forage biomass production under N rates up to 120 kg N ha-1 and it is therefore considered reliable to support the N nutrition in the forage sorghum fodder production systems. en_US
dc.description.sponsorship University of Limpopo, research office under the UCDP program and National Research Foundation-Thuthuka en_US
dc.format.extent xxiii, 166 leaves en_US
dc.language.iso en en_US
dc.relation.requires PDF en_US
dc.subject Adoption en_US
dc.subject Clover en_US
dc.subject Communal en_US
dc.subject Feed gap en_US
dc.subject Forage sorghum en_US
dc.subject On-farm forage legume en_US
dc.subject Smallholder en_US
dc.subject Sheep farmers en_US
dc.subject Planting date en_US
dc.subject.lcsh Forage plants en_US
dc.subject.lcsh Sorghum as feed en_US
dc.subject.lcsh Sheep farming en_US
dc.subject.lcsh Legumes -- Breeding en_US
dc.subject.lcsh Forage plants -- Breeding en_US
dc.title Productivity and physiological responses of winter annual forage legumes to planting date and short-term rotation with forage sorghum for sheep production under no-till system in Limpopo Province en_US
dc.type Thesis en_US

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