March 2023

We welcome Lisa Matthews as the new editor of the Grassroots. The issue focuses on the interaction between people and nature; ancient dependency, combined with the current impact. Congress 58 will be held at Omaramba, Rustenburg, North West Province, 24 – 28 July 2023.

December 2022

Parthenium on game and livestock farms is said to “bring famine and desolation to the land”. In our feature article, Jeremy Goodall and his team explain how certain management practices can be used to maintain the plant at low densities that are not problematic. An invasion of Opuntia aurantiaca (jointed cactus) in South Africa is also reducing valuable grazing land. Learn more about this invasion and how to control it in our feature article by Sive Tokozwayo. The COP27 summit made news headlines for the past month. Read all about the debate by world leaders on the role of livestock in climate change. Heidi-Jayne Hawkins, a research director and fellow at Conservation International feels that the science to mitigate climate change is clear, but the progress is slow. She spoke to University World News about her cross-cutting research that focuses on natural climate solutions, which support climate resilience and mitigation. Barry Meijer is a regenerative farmer in the Klein Karoo and has been incorporating a free satellite-based tool (FruitLook) to efficiently manage the irrigation of his planted pasture.

October 2022

The first in-person congress since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic was held at the Aldam Holiday Resort near Ventersburg in the Free State on 25 to 29 July 2022. Read all about it on page 3. The new president of the Society is Charné Viljoen and she will be taking over from Igshaan Samuels. Read all about Dr Urs Kreuter on page 45 who has accepted the position of Scientific Editor of the African Journal of Rangeland and Forage Science as Prof Pieter Swanepoel has stepped down. We are continuing the conversation on the Prosopis invasion with a feature article written by Dr Graham Harding and his team who has been doing a lifetime worth of research on the effect and management of this invasive species. A new “Guide for the Control of Problem Plants South Africa 2022” has also been released. Aife Kearns has an interesting perspective on “Putting a price on nature” in an article where he explains this concept by comparing it to blood donations. On the topic of putting a price on nature, the Opperheimer Research and Conservation awarded a South African ecologist with $150 000 to research new “Cattle with nature” solutions. Lastly, our sincere sympathies go out to Sue Milton and her family with the passing of her husband, Richard Dean.

July 2022

This issue highlights the role of grazing in restoring biodiversity with Craig Morris’ feature article on what he learned from investigating “Regenerative Grazing Management” and Susan Marais’ stories of farmers who have seen good results from implementing ultra-high-density grazing. In a case study, Craig Galloway answers the question of what the ideal stocking rate on a pasture-based farm should be. In another feature article, Ken Coetzee explains why we need to be concerned about Prosopis having already spread over 1.8 million hectares of South Africa. And if you have ever wondered how much water we can save by removing alien plants, please read the hydrological study done by a team of researchers from the ARC, Stellenbosch University and the University of Cape Town. New technologies are helping us to collect highly detailed data on the Earth’s land cover (page 39) and smart maps to protect water supplies (page 42). How you respond to reviewers’ comments is an important part of the peer-review process. Saheed Jimoh shares a few Do's and Dont's when responding to such comments. The rest of the year is packed with events. See page 55 to learn more about them.

March 2022

We kick-off this issue with a brand-new series, “Karoo plant of the month” by Rudi Swart from the Worcester Veld Reserve, where he tells us more about Bietou (Osteospermum sinuatum). In our feature article, Sue Milton and Ken Coetzee made sure of an interesting read about the restoration processes of bare patches in the Karoo during the drought. Another interesting read is the story about a farmer who reintroduced hippos into the Karoo which not only led to an increase in biodiversity, but also increased tourist traffic to the area. In an interview with Susanne Vetter, a plant ecologist at Rhodes University, we learn more about the common misconceptions of African grasslands and the pastoralist communities that depend on them. A new study shows that the use of smaller drones is less disruptive to wildlife during surveying. Learn how to grow your own grassland garden on page 47 (and send us a photo if you do!). Go check out the newly launched open index of scholarly papers, OpenAlex. Frits van Oudtshoorn compiled a list of common names for South African grasses which are now available on the GSSA’s website. He will be launching a grass app soon!

December 2021

Patrick  Rakau shares valuable information on how to manage the grazing cycle of annual ryegrass in our feature article. Herding 4 Health is a community development activity that promotes conservation outcomes while supporting people living in rural areas to find their way out of extreme poverty. Read more about it on page 10.  Biodiversity research in South Africa is currently being choked by red tape. How can this issue be overcome? Valuable research on post  fire  changes in the Overberg Renosterveld is being conducted by the Overberg Renosterveld Conservation Trust using repeat photography. Be sure to check out the submission deadlines to Grassroots for 2022 and share your exciting research findings with  us. Please  remember that Grassroots is also now open for advertising (see pricing  options on  page 19).

November 2021

We pay tribute to one of the founder members of the GSSA, Dr Piet Roux, who passed away on 30 June 2021. Most of his life was dedicated to understanding Karoo ecology and he was an inspiration to many young scientists and farmers. Our hearts go out to his family. Henk Smit has written an insightful article on the eco-efficiency of irrigated dairy pastures in South Africa. This study identifies opportunities to pro-duce climate-smart dairy products in South Africa and is definitely worth the read! Make sure to scan the QR-codes for the two published articles on this subject. Who would have ever thought it is possible to “potty train” a cow? Read all about exactly how and why researchers of the University of Auckland have engaged in such a “crazy” study. A new national park is on its way for the Eastern Cape and the City of Cape Town is implementing a “No Mowing” policy. We celebrate the “Tree of the year” and also learn why tree planting schemes can destroy rangelands and damage pastoral livelihoods.

July 2021

Craig Morris wrote an insightful feature article, “To kill a grassland forb” where he addresses the role of fire and overgrazing in the mesic grasslands. As with many parts of the world, the Karoo has been undergoing desertification and in the article “Guardians of the Karoo Rangelands”, we learn how regenerative land management is bucking this trend. Two farmers from the Eastern Cape also share how they use technology and regenerative farming to successfully manage livestock. The ARC employed a soil testing lab on wheels to assist farmers in rural areas, meanwhile, in Australia and New Zealand, farmers are participating in the “Soil Your Undies” Challenge. The state of cotton underwear after being buried in the soil for 8 weeks is used to indicate the health of the microbiome. We revisit the horrific Cape Town fire that destroyed UCT’s Plant Conservation Unit to assess the damage, miracles, causes and what we learned from it. The role of invasive alien plants in this event is also discussed. Be sure to check out the new guide on “how to best get rid of invasive alien plants”. Lastly, we pay tribute to one of the world’s greatest scientists, Bob Scholes, who passed away earlier this year (make sure to watch the video tribute by ReWild). Grassroots would like to extend our sincere condolences to his family, colleagues and students.

March 2021

A new series, “Tree of the month”. Vachellia erioloba is the first tree under the spotlight. The grass and pasture of the month is Dactyloctenium australe and Avena sativa. In our feature article, Kelly Bernard focusses on birds as agents of restoration in the Albany Thicket Biome of the Eastern Cape province. The reason for the death of 350 elephants in Botswana is once again a talking point after questions were raised as to why only elephants died from cyanobacterial poisoning. It is believed that fences played a major role in causing these deaths. On the other side of the world, the possibility of fenceless grazing for cows and wildlife is being explored with the use of GPS collars developed by a Norwegian company, Nofence. Some good news is that South Africa achieved a crucial milestone for ecosystem research and that abundant rainfall in Namibia has turned this country green.

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