By Eliaser Ndeyanale
NAMAGRI Managing Director Alex McDonald has urged local farmers to practice de-bushing, in order to control bush encroachment on their farms and increase grazing.
McDonald, who has been working for NamAgri (Namibia Agricultural Distributors) for 21 years, told Confidente this week that bush encroachment is the biggest national threat to both commercial and communal farmers.
He encouraged farmers to use pellets as a method of de-bushing, because it does not harm favourable species such as trees.
He said that bushes and shrubs take up large space and absorb between 40 and 60 litres of water per day, making it difficult for grass to grow.
“If you put that amount of water into grazing, you will get grazing grass this high,” he said, while showing Confidente pictures of an area he said his company had helped to de-bush last year.
“If animals don’t have food, it’s a problem. The more food we produce, the more animals we can feed, the more money we can generate to export out of the country, and the more wealth we can create.”
McDonald also discouraged farmers from using fire as a method of de-bushing, because it encompasses risks.
“I don’t recommend fire to anybody, with all the risks involved, although it is regarded as a method of pest and bush control… I am not saying it doesn’t work, but it’s not an economical option,” he cautioned.
McDonald said the virtuous time for de-bushing is from October to December, before the seasonal rainfall, because when it rains the granules (pellets) are absorbed by the bushes and shrubs, causing them to die, and thereby giving space for grass to grow.
Information found on the company website suggests that applications of pellets prior to seasonal rainfall give the most rapid response. Herbicidal activity continues for several seasons, after application.“During this time woody plants may go through repeated defoliations and re-growths, until death occurs. A single application is normally effective for several years.
“Forage grass production usually increases, as woody weed competition is reduced. Increased grass production is also dependent on adequate rainfall and an acceptable grazing management programme. It is important to allow grasses to seed and seedlings to become established after treatment, before grazing pressure is increased.” However, farmers are requested not to apply this product to salt or erosion-prone areas and not to apply it within 100 metres of a recognised water course. NamAgri has also urged that the product not be applied on land with a slope greater than 20 percent (11 degrees), as well us under conditions which will cause pellet movement to non-target areas, during application. “Retain at least 20 percent of the original tree population in wildlife corridors that are at least 100 metres wide. These are essential for shade and the protection of livestock and native fauna. Ideally, shelter belts should traverse variable terrain, particularly ridgelines and hill tops, as well as water courses, and link other vegetated corridors where possible,” the company stated on its website.
Confidente. Lifting the Lid. Copyright © 2015