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Split Ranch Grazing Strategy [Botswana]

Riaan Dames Grazing Strategy

technologies_3217 - Botswana

Completeness: 92%

1. Informação geral

1.2 Detalhes do contato das pessoas capacitadas e instituições envolvidas na avaliação e documentação da tecnologia.


SLM specialist:

Name of the institution(s) which facilitated the documentation/ evaluation of the Technology (if relevant)
University of Botswana (University of Botswana) - Botswana

1.3 Condições em relação ao uso da informação documentada através de WOCAT

When were the data compiled (in the field)?


The compiler and key resource person(s) accept the conditions regarding the use of data documented through WOCAT:


1.4 Declaração de sustentabilidade da tecnologia descrita

A tecnologia descrita aqui é problemática em relação a degradação da terra de forma que não pode ser declarada uma tecnologia sustentável de gestão de terra?


2. Descrição da tecnologia de gestão sustentável da terra

2.1 Descrição curta da tecnologia

Definição da tecnologia:

Riaan Dames Grazing involves grazing half the available area for a full year, which concentrates livestock density enabling sufficient grazing pressure to maintain the grassland in an immature, high-quality state, while resting the other half for a full year, which allows optimal recovery of plants from the previous full years grazing. The technology allows simplicity and requires less fencing infrastructure than more complex grazing systems, thereby reducing costs and increasing profits without compromising sustainability or ecological function. The technology can also be used under a planned grazing strategy in pastoral-wildlife grazing systems to create heterogeneity for wildlife and livestock.

2.2 Descrição detalhada da tecnologia


The Riaan Dames Grazing Strategy, otherwise known as Split-Ranch Grazing (SRG), was developed by Riaan Dames in the North West province, South Africa, while working for the Department of Agriculture. It is a fundamentally-different technology to grazing management in comparison with popular rotational grazing management systems in many western countries and contains several conceptual advances over rotational grazing systems. One key difference is that SRG provides a full-year uninterrupted recovery period for rangeland after grazing which enables grasses to maximize nutrient recovery over all the main pulses of nutrient mineralization (when microbes break down organic matter in the soil and release nutrients for plant uptake - mineralization occurs in pulses associated with rainfall events) in the early wet season (most nutrient mineralization occurs in the early wet season) and to maximize root growth and associated nutrient storage over the late wet season and early dry season (most root growth occurs in the late wet season/early dry season when plants translocate nutrients from above ground components to below ground components). Optimal recovery periods should ideally, therefore, encompass the full wet season and the early dry season. This is in contrast to rotational grazing systems where recovery and grazing periods are apportioned across the wet season and early dry season, with resting periods likely not falling in key periods of nutrient uptake and root growth. A major problem with having both grazing and recovery periods in the same season is that grassland is able to mature during recovery periods, greatly reducing forage quality and grass growth rates, thereby likely negatively impacting animal production. Another major problem is that complex rotational grazing strategies invest much in a complex and expensive fencing infrastructure. The solution to these problems is to introduce a fundamentally-different strategy to rotational grazing where some paddocks are grazed the whole year to prevent grassland maturation and other paddocks are rested the whole year to optimize recovery. In addition, paddocks should be as few in number and as large in size as is possible to maximize livestock access to functional resource heterogeneity (different types of resources needed by herbivores at different times and for various purposes, which are distributed across landscapes), thereby improving adaptive foraging options for livestock (have greater ability to move across landscapes to reach needed resource types), while also reducing costs of fencing infrastructure establishment and maintenance. Livestock are maintained in the paddocks planned for grazing until the mid-dry season to ensure that grasses in the rested paddocks have completed root growth and ceased all growth (fully rested and recovered). A full years rest allows maximum uptake of nutrients and maximum storage of these nutrients in deep, strong root systems and crowns, and ensures sustainability. Thus when these grasses are grazed in the next season they have not only efficient root uptake of moisture and nutrients from the soil but also can re-allocate nutrients stored in roots to leaf production after each grazing event, resulting in a productive supply of high-quality fresh leaf to livestock over the growing season. Movement of livestock into the year-long rested paddocks halfway through the dry season ensures that they have a large reserve of forage for the dry season. Concentration of livestock on half the available area (half the paddocks are rested and the other half grazed) ensures sufficient grazing pressure to maintain grassland in an immature, high-quality and rapidly-growing state for maximizing forage quality, leaf production and livestock production, which is further enhanced by greater adaptive foraging options in large paddocks. The technology was started in North West province South Africa, and is now being taken up in Botswana and Namibia. A model example is Tiisa Kalahari Ranch in the Ghanzi region of Botswana, run by Mr Kevin Grant. The ranch has been partitioned into several four-paddock cells, each with their own cattle herd. Cattle graze two paddocks while the other two are rested for a full year. Cattle enter the rested paddocks in the mid dry season (July) once forage is depleted in the two grazed paddocks, which have developed a large reserve of forage to sustain the livestock until the rains arrive. This technology (SRG) has been employed at Tiisa for almost six years. The ranch was in a degraded state at the start of the technology owing to decades of poor grazing management by previous owners. Indications are that the rangeland has been steadily recovering with increases in abundance of high-quality grasses. Monitoring programs are being established to monitor the trends in cover of the various grass species over time.

2.3 Fotos da tecnologia

2.4 Vídeos da tecnologia

Comments, short description:

Tour of several ranches using the split ranch grazing strategy: April 2016, North West Province, South Africa. The video was compiled by Ibo Zimmerman.




North West Province, South Africa

Name of videographer:

Ibo Zimmerman

2.5 País/região/locais onde a tecnologia foi aplicada e que estão cobertos nesta avaliação



Region/ State/ Province:

Ghanzi Province

Further specification of location:

Ghanzi, Tiisa Kalahari Ranch


Longitude: -21.60026 (decimal degrees)
Latitude: 21.48969

2.6 Data da implementação

Caso o ano exato seja desconhecido, indique a data aproximada:
  • less than 10 years ago (recently)

2.7 Introdução da tecnologia

  • Through interaction with Riaan Dames

3. Classificação da tecnologia de gestão sustentável da terra

3.1 Principal/principais finalidade(s) da tecnologia

  • Melhora a produção
  • Reduz, previne, recupera a degradação do solo
  • Preserva ecossistema
  • Protege uma bacia/zonas a jusante – em combinação com outra tecnologia
  • Preservar/melhorar a biodiversidade
  • Criar impacto econômico benéfico

3.2 Tipo(s) atualizado(s) de uso da terra onde a tecnologia foi aplicada



Pastagem extensiva:
  • Seminomadismo/pastoralismo
  • Fazenda
Principais espécies animais e produtos:

The technology can be used for ranching cattle, sheep or goats or using planned herding of these livestock types according to the key concepts outlined in the technology. Products would be meat, wool and to a lesser degree, milk.

3.3 Mais informações sobre o uso da terra

Abastecimento de água para a terra na qual a tecnologia é aplicada:
  • Precipitação natural

Mainly rainfed but some irrigation of improved pasture for dry season forage would be fine

Número de estações de cultivo por ano:
  • 1

Mostly one growing season but can be in a bimodal rainfall region

Densidade animal (se relevante):

At conservative stocking rates to ensure that animals are able to remain in the planned grazed paddocks until the mid dry season. Stocking rate will depend upon the local rainfall and soils and associated grass production. 10-15ha/ LSU in semi-arid regions

3.4 Grupo de gestão sustentável da terra ao qual pertence a tecnologia

  • Gestão de pastoralismo e pastagem

3.5 Difusão da tecnologia

Especifique a difusão da tecnologia :
  • Uniformemente difundida numa área
Caso a tecnologia seja uniformemente difundida numa área, indique a área coberta aproximada :
  • 10-100 km2

Not restricted to any size of land - any size ranch

3.6 Medidas de gestão sustentável da terra contendo a tecnologia

Medidas de gestão

Medidas de gestão

  • M2: Mudança de gestão/nível de intensidade
  • M4: Principal mudança no calendário de atividades

It involves grazing management. Managing stocking rate and the time spent grazing or resting a paddock

3.7 Principais tipos de degradação da terra abordados pela tecnologia

Erosão do solo pela água

Erosão do solo pela água

  • Wt: Perda do solo superficial/erosão de superfície
  • Wg: Erosão por ravinas/ravinamento
Erosão do solo pelo vento

Erosão do solo pelo vento

  • Et: Perda do solo superficial
Degradação biológica

Degradação biológica

  • Bc: redução da cobertura vegetal
  • Bq: quantidade/ declínio da biomassa
  • Bs: Qualidade e composição de espécies/declínio de diversidade

Preventing undesirable changes in grass cover and composition

3.8 Redução, prevenção ou recuperação da degradação do solo

Especifique o objetivo da tecnologia em relação a degradação da terra:
  • Previnir degradação do solo
  • Recuperar/reabilitar solo severamente degradado

The key goals are to improve grass composition and cover, reduce soil erosion and to improve livestock production

4. Especificações técnicas, implementação de atividades, entradas e custos

4.1 Desenho técnico da tecnologia


Richard Fynn

4.2 Especificações técnicas/ explicações do desenho técnico

Riaan Dames Grazing Strategy or Split-ranch grazing can be implemented as simply as dividing the ranch into two paddocks with livestock spending alternate years in each paddock (A) or the ranch can be divided up into several cells according to the ranchers needs, such as having to separate breeding herds, bull herds and weaners (B). In scenario A it is important to ensure good water distribution in each paddock to ensure livestock have access to the whole paddock. This simple scenario (A) is ideal for rural development schemes owing to minimal infrastructure costs and is easy for rural communities to implement. Another advantage is that it gives livestock much greater adaptive foraging options with such large paddocks. In scenario B a central water point provides a convenient way of changing the livestock between paddocks. The gates can be left open between diagonal paddocks to allow livestock freedom of access to either of the diagonal paddocks (greater freedom of adaptive foraging) or they can be actively moved between diagonals during the grazing year according to the ranchers decisions. If paddocks are extremely large then other water points should be provided across the paddocks to allow livestock even access to all parts of the paddock.

4.4 Atividades de implantação

Atividade Tipo de medida Calendarização
1. Building fences Estrutural At the start
2. Digging Boreholes Estrutural At the start
3. Setting up water reticulation and drinking troughs Estrutural At the start
4. Buildling animal loading facilities Estrutural At the start
5. Handling of livestock Gestão throughout the year

4.5 Custos e entradas necessárias para a implantação

Especifique a entrada Unidade Quantidade Custos por unidade Custos totais por entrada % dos custos arcados pelos usuários da terra
Mão-de-obra for building fences and animal loading facilities person days 100,0
Mão-de-obra digging boreholes and setting water reticulation and drinking troughs person days 100,0
Mão-de-obra animal handling person days 100,0
Mão-de-obra etc
Equipamento vehicles machine hour 100,0
Equipamento pumps pieces 100,0
Equipamento drinking droughs pieces 100,0
Equipamento machines for digging boreholes machine hour 100,0
Equipamento machines for building animal loading facilities machine hour 100,0
Equipamento etc
Material de construção poles for fences pieces 100,0
Material de construção wire mesh for fencens meters 100,0
Material de construção cement for boreholes and loading faclities kgs 100,0
Material de construção water pipes pieces 100,0
Material de construção etc

4.6 Atividades recorrentes/manutenção

Atividade Tipo de medida Calendarização/frequência
1. Maintenance of fences Estrutural Throughout
2. Maintenance of water pipes and pumps Estrutural Throughout
3. Maintenance of vehicles Estrutural Throughout
4. Animal handling Gestão Throughout
5. Supplementary feeding (if needed) Gestão dry season

4.7 Custos e entradas necessárias pata a manutenção/atividades recorrentes (por ano)

Especifique a entrada Unidade Quantidade Custos por unidade Custos totais por entrada % dos custos arcados pelos usuários da terra
Material vegetal supplementary feed bale 1,0 9,0 9,0 100,0
Custos totais para a manutenção da tecnologia 9,0

Bales of hay cost 7-9 USD in Botswana depending on availability

4.8 Fatores mais importantes que afetam os custos

Descreva os fatores mais determinantes que afetam os custos:

Fencing and infrastructure have been shown to be major factors increasing establishment and maintenance costs and reducing profits. Thus this technology aims to reduce these costs by having fewer larger paddocks, which also has benefits for the animals. Another major cost is that of supplementary feeding, especially if forage is depleted during the dry season. This technology aims to ensure that a reserve of forage is created for the dry season so that expensive supplementary feeding is not needed during the dry season, and aims to improve the quality of forage during the wet season so that supplementary feeding is not needed for fertility improvement (conception rates of females).

5. Ambiente naturale e humano

5.1 Clima

Precipitação pluviométrica anual
  • <250 mm
  • 251-500 mm
  • 501-750 mm
  • 751-1.000 mm
  • 1.001-1.500 mm
  • 1.501-2.000 mm
  • 2.001-3.000 mm
  • 3.001-4.000 mm
  • > 4.000 mm
Especifique a média pluviométrica anual em mm (se conhecida):


Especificações/comentários sobre a pluviosidade:

Most Riaan Dame Grazing Strategies (RDGS) are applied in semi-arid climates with a long dry season. However, similar technologies have been applied in high rainfall regions with great success. In fact, the relevance of Split Ranch Grazing (SRG) is likely to increase with increasing rainfall because of the greater decline in forage quality as grassland matures in higher rainfall areas; hence the greater need to concentrate grazing pressure to prevent grassland maturation.

Indique o nome da estação meteorológica de referência considerada:

Department of Meteorological Services, Botswana

Zona agroclimática
  • Semiárido

Can be operated in semi-arid, sub-humid or humid environments

5.2 Topografia

Encostas em média:
  • Plano (0-2%)
  • Suave ondulado (3-5%)
  • Ondulado (6-10%)
  • Moderadamente ondulado (11-15%)
  • Forte ondulado (16-30%)
  • Montanhoso (31-60%)
  • Escarpado (>60%)
Formas de relevo:
  • Planalto/planície
  • Cumes
  • Encosta de serra
  • Encosta de morro
  • Sopés
  • Fundos de vale
Zona de altitude:
  • 0-100 m acima do nível do mar
  • 101-500 m acima do nível do mar
  • 501-1.000 m acima do nível do mar
  • 1.001-1.500 m acima do nível do mar
  • 1.501-2.000 m acima do nível do mar
  • 2.001-2.500 m acima do nível do mar
  • 2.501-3.000 m acima do nível do mar
  • 3.001-4.000 m acima do nível do mar
  • > 4.000 m acima do nível do mar
Indique se a tecnologia é aplicada especificamente em:
  • Não relevante
Comentários e outras especificações sobre a topografia:

Any situation is appropriate

5.3 Solos

Profundidade do solo em média:
  • Muito raso (0-20 cm)
  • Raso (21-50 cm)
  • Moderadamente profundo (51-80 cm)
  • Profundo (81-120 cm)
  • Muito profundo (>120 cm)
Textura do solo (solo superficial):
  • Grosso/fino (arenoso)
Textura do solo (>20 cm abaixo da superfície):
  • Grosso/fino (arenoso)
Matéria orgânica do solo superficial:
  • Médio (1-3%)
Caso disponível anexe a descrição completa do solo ou especifique as informações disponíveis, p. ex. tipo de solo, PH/acidez do solo, nitrogênio, capacidade de troca catiônica, salinidade, etc:

The ranch has deep Kalahari sands in some sections and shallow rocky soils on calcrete in other sections. Nevertheless the technology is appropriate for any soil type

5.4 Disponibilidade e qualidade de água

Lençol freático:

< 5 m

Disponibilidade de água de superfície:


Qualidade da água (não tratada):

Água potável boa

A salinidade da água é um problema?


Ocorre inundação da área?


5.5 Biodiversidade

Diversidade de espécies:
  • Médio
Diversidade de habitat:
  • Médio

5.6 Características dos usuários da terra que utilizam a tecnologia

Sedentário ou nômade:
  • Sedentário
  • Seminômade
Orientação de mercado do sistema de produção:
  • Comercial/mercado
Rendimento não agrícola:
  • Menos de 10% de toda renda
Nível relativo de riqueza:
  • Média
Indivíduos ou grupos:
  • Indivíduo/unidade familiar
Nível de mecanização:
  • Mecanizado/motorizado
  • Homens
Idade dos usuários da terra:
  • meia-idade
Indique outras características relevantes dos usuários da terra:

The technology can be applied under commercial ranching situations using fenced paddocks to control the spatial and temporal distribution of livestock or it can be applied by semi-nomadic pastoralists using planned herding to control the spatial and temporal distribution of livestock.

5.7 Média da área de terra própria ou arrendada por usuários da terra que utilizam a tecnologia

  • < 0,5 ha
  • 0,5-1 ha
  • 1-2 ha
  • 2-5 ha
  • 5-15 ha
  • 15-50 ha
  • 50-100 ha
  • 100-500 ha
  • 500-1.000 ha
  • 1.000-10.000 ha
  • > 10.000 ha
É considerado pequena, média ou grande escala (referente ao contexto local)?
  • Média escala

5.8 Propriedade de terra, direitos de uso da terra e de uso da água

Propriedade da terra:
  • Indivíduo, intitulado
Direitos do uso da terra:
  • Indivíduo
Direitos do uso da água:
  • Indivíduo

5.9 Acesso a serviços e infraestrutura

  • Pobre
  • Moderado
  • Bom
  • Pobre
  • Moderado
  • Bom
Assistência técnica:
  • Pobre
  • Moderado
  • Bom
Emprego (p. ex. não agrícola):
  • Pobre
  • Moderado
  • Bom
  • Pobre
  • Moderado
  • Bom
  • Pobre
  • Moderado
  • Bom
Vias e transporte:
  • Pobre
  • Moderado
  • Bom
Água potável e saneamento:
  • Pobre
  • Moderado
  • Bom
Serviços finais:
  • Pobre
  • Moderado
  • Bom

6. Impactos e declarações finais

6.1 Impactos no local mostrados pela tecnologia

Impactos socioeconômicos


Produção de forragens


For details see:
Fynn, R.W.S. Kirkman, K & Dames, R. (2017).

Qualidade da forragem


Forage quality improved by keeping the grass in an immature state. For details see:
Fynn, R.W.S. Kirkman, K & Dames, R. (2017).

Produção animal


Benefit from improved forage quality and larger spatial scales for adaptive foraging. For detail see:
Fynn, R.W.S. Kirkman, K & Dames, R. (2017).

Impactos ecológicos

Ciclo hídrico/escoamento

Quantidade de água


Better soil cover and protection

Qualidade de água


Better soil cover and protection

Escoamento superficial


Better soil cover and protection

Biodiversidade: vegetação, animais

Cobertura vegetal


Biomassa/carbono acima do solo


Diversidade de habitat


6.2 Impactos externos mostrados pela tecnologia

Caudal confiável e estável em período seco


Better grass cover should improve water capture and stream flow

Cheias de jusante


Better grass cover should reduce runoff rates and downstream flooding

Sedimentação a jusante


Better grass cover should reduce runoff and erosion rates thereby reducing downstream siltation

6.4 Análise do custo-benefício

Como os benefícios se comparam aos custos de implantação (do ponto de vista dos usuários da terra)?
Retornos a curto prazo:


Retornos a longo prazo:


Como os benefícios se comparam aos custos recorrentes/de manutenção(do ponto de vista dos usuários da terra)?
Retornos a curto prazo:


Retornos a longo prazo:



This technology aims to reduce infrastructure and maintenance costs by reducing the amount of fencing
It also aims to reduce reliance on supplementary feeding

6.5 Adoção da tecnologia

  • 1-10%
Se disponível, determine a quantidade (número de unidades familiares e/ou área abordada):

In Ghanzi region of Botswana probably about five ranchers have adopted the technology

Entre todos aqueles que adotaram a tecnologia, quantos adotaram espontaneamente, ou seja, sem receber nenhum incentivo material/pagamentos?
  • 90-100%

They have adopted the technology because of seeing the results of those using the technology and from farmers day talks

6.6 Adaptação

A tecnologia foi recentemente modificada para adaptar-se as condições variáveis?


6.7 Pontos fortes/vantagens/oportunidades da tecnologia

Strengths/ advantages/ opportunities in the land user’s view
Management complexity is reduced - fewer paddocks and less frequent movement between paddocks
Establishment and maintenance costs are lower than complex rotational grazing systems owing to less fencing required. Livestock production increased relative to costs
Need for supplementary feed and licks reduced owing to livestock having greater adaptive foraging options
Rangeland condition improved
Rangeland condition improved - better grass cover and greater abundance of high-quality perennial grasses
Strengths/ advantages/ opportunities in the compiler’s or other key resource person’s view
Conceptually the most robust grazing management technology, Extremely long recovery periods promotes sustainability

Low establishment and maintenance costs relative to production
Concentration of livestock on half the available area enables sufficient grazing pressure to prevent grassland maturation and loss of forage quality
Development of a large reserve of forage for the dry season through season long resting promotes stability and reduces needs for supplementary feeding (increased profits)
Very large paddocks combined with minimal forced movement of livestock promotes adaptive foraging options for livestock thereby reducing need for supplementary feeding and licks (increased profits)

6.8 Pontos fracos, desvantagens/riscos da tecnologia e formas de superá-los

Weaknesses/ disadvantages/ risks in the land user’s view How can they be overcome?
Less intensive management increases predation events on livestock Herding of livestock
Weaknesses/ disadvantages/ risks in the compiler’s or other key resource person’s view How can they be overcome?
Potential over/under use of certain habitat type. Less control of timing and intensity of grazing distribution could result in damage to sensitive habitat types Monitoring by the rancher of impacts on vegetation and use of water point reticulation/ lick placement/herding to move animals to underutilized areas

7. Referências e links

7.1 Métodos/fontes de informação

  • field visits, field surveys

Many trips to Tiisa ranch to conduct monitoring work

  • interviews with land users

Have spoken to several land owners using the technology

  • interviews with SLM specialists/ experts

Have had much interaction with Riaan Dames who developed the technology

7.2 Referências às publicações disponíveis

Title, author, year, ISBN:

Optimal grazing management strategies: Evaluating key concepts Fynn, R.W.S., Kirkman, K.P. and Dames, R. 2017. African Journal of Range and Forage Science 34 (2): 87-98

Available from where? Costs?

Taylor and Francis Publishers

Title, author, year, ISBN:

Towards optimal rangeland management. Fynn, R.W.S. 2015. Farmers Weekly 18: 56-59

Available from where? Costs?

Farmers weekly magazine

7.3 Links para informação relevante que está disponível online

Title/ description:

Grazing Strategy of Riaan Dames


Links and modules

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