Let's talk about grassland ecosystems
Dear readers, when we talk about grassland ecosystem we are referring to the natural herbaceous vegetation or introduced into different ecosystems characteristic of a biogeographic zone that have certain soil and climate characteristics, these plants are known as grasses and are indispensable for the feeding of ruminant animals. In that sense, due to the potential that these plants have, ecosystems began to be transformed into spaces where ruminant animals such as cows, goats, among others are managed, but these spaces to have excellent productive performance must be managed as a system, technically they are known as livestock systems.
A livestock system is composed of biotic and abiotic elements such as soil, animal, vegetation, climate, temperature, precipitation and solar radiation, that is, it is a natural space and, therefore, it must be managed respecting the natural processes that develop in them. Who is responsible for ensuring that these systems are managed properly? the person responsible for these systems to express their maximum potential is the person in charge of the livestock production units, for that he must make a thorough diagnosis to know the behavior of the plants with their environment and in case of some difficulties make the right decisions without altering the natural processes of the ecosystem.
According to the aforementioned, it can be said that there is a relationship between soil-plant-animal-man, these components are interrelated since, one depends on the other, as in the case of soil which is responsible for capturing the carbon and nitrogen provided by the plant, the proteins synthesized by the plant is of benefit for the animal's food, and the other is; the animal's manure serves as a fertilizer to the soil by providing nutrients that also help the growth of plants, the animal provides fundamental raw material for human nutrition with the production of milk and meat.
In this same order of ideas, man would be in charge of managing the system from the different areas, since he must guarantee that the pastures are carried out the necessary agronomic tasks such as pest control, weeds, fertilization, irrigation among others that can be implemented according to the need presented by the ecosystem, on the other hand, it would be necessary to, it must also guarantee that animals do not degrade pastures due to poor zootechnical management reflected in high animal loads and few days of rest and coupled with this and not least guarantee that all these practices do not exceed the financial planning of the system, that is, there is an excellent benefit-cost ratio.
It is also important that the manager or person in charge knows about the phenological stages of the “poaceae" grass family since it is related to the chemical composition and the digestibility of the dry matter, because as the plant goes through each of the phenological phases, changes occur in the chemical composition and morphology that affect the quality or nutritional value of the grasses. In the same way, climatic factors should be considered, such as temperature, which, when elevated, tends to thicken its cell wall, increasing fiber levels, it also influences periods of low rainfall where the plant presents water stress, which can cause biomass yields to decrease and another fundamental element is solar radiation, which we know how fundamental it is for plants to make their own food through photosynthesis.
Dear readers, this was just a brief summary of the elements that can influence livestock systems from the point of view of pasture production, sometimes it can be easy to talk about pasture crops and believe that they do not need more management because after being cut by the animal it regrows, but it is quite the opposite, you need to have a broad knowledge about the management that these types of plants should receive, since, they interact with the pressure exerted by animals on them. Obviously, as mentioned at the beginning, it is necessary to be in regular contact with the spaces where the animals are managed to determine the phenomena that occur there and look for viable alternatives that allow to correct any deficiency in an effective way and in accordance with the needs of the pastures, because in such ecosystems it is sought to protect the plant to have economic food throughout the year.
Thank you for reading our article, until a next installment!
- Rodríguez, J,; Gutiérrez, E. and Rodríguez, H.(2010). Dynamics of grazing systems. Threshing. Federal District: Mexico.
- Durán, F. (2009). Cultivation of pastures and forages. Grupo Latino Editores. Bogota: Colombia.
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