Rangelands and Nutrition
The acquisition of germplasm, which includes the collection,
introduction and exchange of germplasm locally and internationally.
The conservation of germplasm in the genebank. This includes
aspects such as seed technology, seed conservation, seed multiplication as well
as the conservation and multiplication of vegetative material.
Screening of pasture
crops to determine the impact of stress factors on the crops. Both climatic,
(drought, moisture and temperature) and nutrient (phosphate and aluminium)
factors are considered.
Describing the variation in forage plants to characterise them
for their use as forage plants.
The evaluation of forage plants with potential, after final
genetic purification, for optimal management requirements and for seed
This programme is supported by a genebank with storage
facilities for indigenous and exotic forage seed and an active exchange of
germplasm with international agencies.
Breeding selection, seed production and management is undertaken on annual and perennial temperate grasses and legumes and on annual and perennial tropical and sub-tropical grasses and legumes. This has resulted in the release of improved forage cultivars and the generation of income from seed production and royalties.
Lolium multiflorum (Italian and Westerwolds rye grass),
Secale cereale (Rye), Lolium perenne (Perennial ryegrass),
Festuca arundinacea (Tall fescue), Trifolium repens (white
clover), Medicago sativa (lucerne), Eragrostis tef (teff),
Avena sativa (oats), Eragrostis curvula (lovegrass), Digitaria
eriantha (Smuts finger grass) and Vigna unguiculata (cow
The main focus is land care and a support service to farmers.
Specific attention is given to legume species and their management in the winter
and summer rainfall areas, the nitrogen fixing capabilities of annual and
perennial legumes and their use in extensive and intensive legume-based
pastures. Lucerne, fodder trees and shrubs being investigated as dryland legumes
for extensive pastures and smallholder farming.