Sustainability and Regeneration in Veld Management

Due to the historical unsustainable grazing practise over the past two centuries, the veld on Royal Karoo has been severely degraded and transformed. Research, experimentation and “best practice” management application by the Royal Karoo team have identified and resulted in environmentally sustainable management being practiced in the field. Note that this is an ongoing and long-term project.
photo of Ponding sustainability practice
The removal of the natural ground cover, and the subsequent removal of carbon from the soil profile, has resulted in very poor water infiltration, resulting in water run-off. Ponding is a small depression along the slope that catches a small amount of water, generally no bigger than 300 litres, which allows the water to soak into the soil profile and promotes growth of grass seed and other variants that have been spread, or was available in the seedbed.
Porous Gabian
retention walls
Due to the extreme run off during rain storms, deep erosion gulleys have been formed along the drain lines. The aim of the wire gabians is to slow down the water, and allow the water bearing top soil to be deposited and allow the profile to be rehydrated, in turn promoting plant growth again.
photo of Gabion Retention Walls sustainability practice
photo of Veld Regeneration sustainability practice
Veld Regeneration
This is primarily being achieved by the planting of spekboom (Portulacaria Afra) in the the areas where it was historically found. This results in carbon being sequestrated into the soil, promoting root growth to stop the loss of topsoil and create a micro climate which allows indigenous plant species to gain a foothold.
Seed harvesting
and dispersal
Certain species play a poineering role in the “bossieveld” karoo, and to promote growth and establishment of pioneering seeds to enhance ground cover, seed from the anchor karoo bush (pentzia incana) is harvested about six weeks after rainfall, and dispersed on degraded areas.
photo of Seed Harvesting sustainability practice

Controlling alien
invasive plant species

In our part of the Southern Karoo, we fight three exotic noxious weeds that are the biggest threat to the biodiversity in our area.
Jointed Cactus
Jointed cactus
This is South Africa’s most costly exotic noxious weed and is a low growing, inconspicuous weed that slowly takes over grazing and renders whole areas impassable. The cactus is jointed in form with a barbus thorn that gets imbedded in the skin of passing victims, then falls out or is brushed off in the thick bush at a later stage, and then takes root where it falls. The State used to supply poison to fight this weed, but this is no longer available and needs to be funded by the land owner. Jointed cactus is South American in origin, and the anecdotal history of its entry into South Africa is that it arrived as an ornamental plant with a nun in the Fort Baufort area – it was apparently kept in a bottle for 18 months before being thrown out – and from there it has spread throughout most of South Africa. Jointed cactus is controlled by spraying it with Monosodium Mathenearsonate, commonly known as MSMA – an organic arsenical herbicide. At Royal Karoo the jointed cactus problem is taken seriously and resources are committed whenever time allows. Once an area is sprayed, we return 6 to 18 months later to make sure all stragglers have been eliminated.
Rope Cactus Photo
Rope cactus
(cylindropuntia imbricate)
A plant that originated in Mexico and Texas and was introduced into South African via Australia in 1970. It is a tall growing bush, about 2.5 metres in height and quickly takes over large areas where it has been allowed to take root. The plant is spread by plant sections or segments of fruit which take root easily in our arid conditions. Fighting rope cactus is easier due to its tall growing nature, and is easily killed using Monosodium Methanearsonate or MSMA. At Royal Karoo we are well on our way to complete control of Rope cactus with only a few populations left to spray.
Torcia Cactus Photo
Torcia cactus
(Soehrensia Spachiana)
This plant is a native of South America and was introduced into South Africa in the early 1900’s, predominantly as an ornamental plant that has taken root and been allowed to spread extensively throughout South Africa. This cactus spreads easily along waterways and drainage lines as sections are broken off and transported by the water. Control of torch cactus is more difficult with no registered products, but spraying plants a year apart has proved to be successful at Royal Karoo, using Monosodium Menthanearsonate, or MSMA together with an adhesive.