Estimating rangeland condition and carrying capacity

In agriculture and especially rangeland management, the veld condition is often an important aspect of overall ecological conditions at a chosen site. The veld condition can be determined in various ways. Two techniques that are commonly used are the ecological index, which yields a veld condition index, and the occurrence or absence of key grass species (Bothma, 2002; Van Rooyen, 2002). Different veld condition assessment methods that have an ecological base have been proposed by various researchers in South Africa including Dyksterhuis (1949), Foran, Tainton & Booysen (1978), Hardy & Hurt (1989), Mentis (1983), Tainton (1988), Tainton, Edwards & Mentis (1980). These methods use key grass species or grass species with allocated ecological status to determine veld condition. Degradation models (Bosch & Gauch, 1991) can also be used to assess veld condition. Directly or indirectly, these methods are based more on responses of grass species to mega-herbivores and in addition at the higher rainfall areas also based on responses of grass species to fire. These methods are superb for decision making in rangeland management and game farm management. From these models carrying capacity could also be determined.