The Okavango Research Institute (ORI) hosted a farmers’ workshop on the 4th of September 2014 which was facilitated by Dr Richard Fynn Range Ecologist. The objective of the workshop was to discuss the concept of optimal ranch management and how to implement these strategies.
A key area for research in the Ngamiland region is livestock and rangeland management to serve the important livestock industry of Botswana. Research lead by Dr Fynn both locally and in collaboration with international range ecologists has led to important advancements on optimal strategies for rangeland management that improve livestock production and profitability that includes range improvement.
Dr Fynn presented to farmers improved and profitable ways they could use to run their ranches. He explained how they can increase grass productivity on their ranches, and added that good grazing management practices can increase productivity. He emphasized that grass needs a year to rest after grazing in order to recover optimal nutrients and length. Farmers were encouraged to divide their ranches into two sections, where animals could graze during the dry and wet seasons. They were told that the one section of the ranch should be left to rest and used as a reserve for the dry season. Dr Fynn explained that this ranch management strategy ensures that animals have food all year round even during the drought season.
He also pointed out that this concept is ideal for rural farmers or farmers with new ranches who cannot afford financial outlays of fencing. He stated out that this ranching system has been put in place in South Africa and that great results are being experienced with large increases in profitability and improvement of rangeland condition and productivity.
Dr Fynn emphasized that he believes that this rangeland management strategy is the way forward for cattle ranching in Africa, especially where there is a need for the development of low cost and practical ways to implement ranching. It also provides good flexibility for adaptation to more variable and less reliable rainfall under climate change.