UPSC Mains | Geography Optional Paper-1 | Answer Discussion | LAND COVER and LAND USE | K. Siddhartha Sir

Land Cover, Land use and soil types influence forage quantity and quality in semi-arid regions of the world. Discuss with relevant examples.

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Planning of Sahel in news following a seminar in kampala university


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Source Book

Biosphere, A geography of Life-K. Siddhartha

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Forage is a plant material (mainly plant leaves and stems) eaten by grazing livestock. It is also used more loosely to include similar plants cut for fodder and carried to the animals, especially as hay or silage.

The term forage crop is used to define crops, annual or biennial, which are grown to be utilized by grazing or harvesting as a whole crop. It includes Edible parts of plants, other than separated grain, that can provide feed for grazing animals, or that can be harvested for feeding. Includes browse, herbage, and mast.

The Quality of forage is determined by Forage Nutritional Content, which in turn is determined by


The nutritional status of a forage crop depends upon the concentration (and ratios) of carbohydrates, proteins, and lipids.



Nitrogen (N) availability to animals is predominantly from forage proteins and are estimated using crude total protein measurements.


Lipids in forage crops are mostly found as polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) in the range of 10 – 30 g kg-1  of which the most abundant is α-linolenic acid [62% total lipids with linolenic and palmitic acid also being present These dietary lipids are important in final animal product quality; forage diets with lower PUFA levels than cereal diets can produce leaner meat

Trace Elements

Minerals and trace elements from forages are important for maintaining livestock health. As there is a move toward using fewer antibiotics in animal production the nutritional balance of feed takes on additional importance.

Biomass Production

Probably the most important trait of any forage crop is rapid biomass production, as crops are either cut or grazed directly, and nutritional quality depends on the rate of biomass production.



Soil properties still contribute to the widely recognized resilience of semiarid rangelands because they provide a degree of suppleness that prevents any shifts in ecological competitive dominance.

Soil pH of 7.5-8.5 supports good crop growth, as the crop is grown under rain fed conditions it is important that soil must have good water holding capacity, with proper drainage system to avoid water logging conditions. Seed rate and sowing time: About 50-60 kg seed would be needed to sow one hectare.

Land use/cover changes had significant influence on physical and chemical soil properties leading to land degradation. Research on soil properties changes due to land use/cover management is critical to understanding land degradation processes, sustainable use and resource dynamics in semiarid areas. Semiarid resource dynamics, in particular, forage and water, are critical in sustaining pastoral and agro pastoral livelihoods as they directly influence livestock production, a key food security holding

Legumes have been observed to grow in sandy to clay soils with a better performance in medium textured soils. In contrast, nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), potassium (K), and soil pH was identified as four primary soil components important in forage production.

A high positive correlation between nitrogen and biomass production showed in Ethiopia. Moreover, the abundance, species composition, and nutrient content of vegetation are influenced by changes in concentration of cations and nutrient availability in soils.

A positive relationship has been established between increased nitrogen and above- ground forage quantity in various parts of Africa. The influence of nitrogen on herbaceous biomass arises from the N fertilization that often leads to increased net primary production (shoot biomass) and thicker stands


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