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Title Scientific and farmer perception of the great diversity of veld types in arid southern Namibia

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Short title Veld types in southern Namibia

Author(s) Domptail, S.(1); Dreber, N.(2); Petersen, A.(3)

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Institution(s) (1) Institute for Agricultural Policy and Market Research, JL University of Giessen; (2) Biocentre Klein Flottbek, University of Hamburg; (3) Institute of Soil Science, University of Hamburg

Keywords Veld types;arid rangeland;farmer knowledge;plant-soil interaction;resource heterogeneity

Abstract The poster presents the diversity in veld types observed in the highly environmental heterogeneous region of Keetmanshoop. Data concerning farmer perception of veld types and data on plant species composition in relation to different soil types were collected. One crucial question in our approach is to identify relationships between the resource heterogeneity in veld types and abiotic factors such as pedo-diversity and what assets does this diversity confer to the local farming systems. The study revealed a variety of veld types, in which associated plant communities highly reflect specific soil conditions. Veld types range from grass veld on calcerous regosols, grassy shrub veld and dwarf-shrub veld on loamier cambisols. We identified the specific distribution of plants following the pedological properties of the veld. E.g. the shrub Zygophyllum decumbens is widespread on dolerite and shale material rich in lime, and thus can be regarded as an indicator for calcerous soil conditions. Although often not at the botanical level, veld types vegetation specificities are often perceived by farmers in the context of their activities. We observed that in some farming systems, veld types have specific usages. For example, farmers differentiate ‘summer veld’ and ‘winter veld’. The diversity in veld types also increases the benefits of keeping various small stock breeds, with their specific browsing/grazing needs, thus easing on-farm diversification. Veld types also react in specific ways to rainfall patterns and bush veld is often considered to be an insurance ‘against drought’. Although the high diversity of veld types at the farm level poses a management challenge to the farmer, it also constitutes an essential asset in spatial and temporal diversity of resource in the farming system.

Congress Topic Land use, impact and value

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Ref. No. 606