How does agro-pastoralism affect forage and soil properties in western Serengeti, Tanzania?
The impacts of agro-pastoral activities on soil properties, plus nutritive value and residual standing biomass of herbaceous plants in areas of different land uses in western Serengeti, were evaluated. Vegetation and soil were sampled along 4,000 m transects laid across fallow land, areas grazed only by livestock, mixed grazing (livestock and wildlife) and wildlife grazing only. A total number of 123 plant species were encountered during sampling. Analyses of soil and vegetation samples were conducted at Sokoine University of Agriculture laboratories. The estimated average density of grazing animals encountered was 160 TLU/km2 on transects within livestock-dominated grazing lands, 129 TLU/km2 for mixed grazing and 83 TLU/km2 for wildlife grazing only. Results indicated that ADF, IVDMD, IVOMD, ME and TDN in residual herbaceous forage at flowering were significantly (P<0.05) affected by land use type but CP, NDF and ADL were not affected. Soil pH, OC, CEC, C:N ratio and Ca differed significantly (P<0.05) between land use types. An overall evaluation indicated that regardless of climatic conditions, residual biomass of herbaceous plants in western Serengeti is determined by intensity of grazing, soil C:N ratio and concentrations of Ca and P in the soil. We conclude that agro-pastoral practices conducted in western Serengeti affected residual standing biomass of herbaceous plants and soil properties. We recommend that grazing pressure in communal grazing lands be reduced by either reducing number of grazing animals or duration of grazing in a particular grazing area, and specific studies be conducted to establish stocking rates appropriate for specific communal grazing lands in villages.