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Know your veld by knowing the grass that grow there

This post is also available in: Afrikaans

Imagine for one moment what it would be like to live in a world without grass! It is the most wide-spread plant in the world with the most uses but, in spite of that, our knowledge of the rich variety of grass species nature has endowed our region with, our knowledge about them is woefully lacking.

Frits van Oudtshoorn’s Guide to Southern African Grasses serves as the farmer’s grass bible and, if there is not a well-paged copy on your desk or in your bakkie, it is high time to acquire one.

The second imprint of the third revised edition was recently released by Briza Publishers and, with its striking cover and impressive photography, this handy 300 page guide is worthy of a prominent place on any coffee table.

With the aid of the Guide to Grasses of Southern Africa as your veld bible, you will be able to see immediately if the grass that you tread on, has nutritional value.

In the introduction Frits van Oudtshoorn explains it as follows: “Grasses are important in three respects – they represent an important food source for humans, play an important ecological role in nature, and is extremely effective in stabilising topsoil and protect against erosion. Grasses were the first plants cultivated by humans to provide food. It has already been said that, if all plants on earth should disappear and only the grasses remain, it would be possible for humans to survive.”

South Africa has 967 grass species and 40 of them that grow here naturally, is being plant internationally as grazing or to supply hay. The first grain that was developed from grass through selection and cultivation, is barley, which was planted for the first time in the Mid-East about 10 000 years ago. Wheat was developed after that by the Egyptians, and mealies in Central America, followed by rice in China. Even sugar cane is a grass specie.

Grass is not only eaten, but also utilised for building purposes and various consumer articles. Useful information for farmers is given in the introductory chapter of the guide, such as what the differences are between is between sour veld and sweet veld.

In the guide section a grass specie is discussed per page, accompanied by photos showing everything, from tussocks to seeds. Colour symbols and an incidence map provide important information at a glance, accompanied by a full description.

Visit www.briza.co.za to order your copy.

One fortunate ProAgri reader can win a copy of the book. Send an email message to benine@proagri.co.za accompanied by the email address of fine other people to include in the mailing list of our newsletter and answer the following question: Who is the publisher of the Guide to Southern African Grasses? Entries close on Friday, 24 May, and the name of the winner will be announced on 28 May in the ProAgri E-Newsletter.

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