The Effect of Fire on Forage Production and Quality
Numerous estimates of primary production have been made in various parts of southern Africa. The topic was reviewed recently by Rutherford (1978), and additional studies were undertaken by du Plessis (1972), Porter (1975), Tainton et al (1978), van der Westhuizen et al (1978) and le Roux (1979b). Many analyses of the quality of plants, mostly grasses and bushes, and mostly in regard to those eaten by domestic and wild ungulates, have also been conducted (Henrici 1935, 1940; Botha 1938; du Toit et al 1940; Weinmann 1955; Mes 1958; Louw et al 1968a,b,c; Louw 1969; Joubert et al 1969; Roth and Osterberg 1971; du Plessis 1972; Hall-Martin and Basson 1975; Tainton et al 1977; Aucamp et al 1978; van der Westhuizen et al 1978; Mentis 1978; Downing 1979; Stindt and Joubert 1979; Tomlinson 1980; Mentis and Bigalke 1981a). There is, however, scant information specifically on the effect of fire on plant production and quality. Within this constraint of limited availability of information, this chapter aims to synthesize what direct and indirect evidence is available on the influence of fire on the quantity and quality of forage produced in South African ecosystems, with emphasis upon those which are characterized by a grass field layer.