Original Research

Herbaceous standing crop in relation to surface and subsurface rockiness

M. C. Rutherford
Bothalia | Vol 14, No 2 | a1170 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/abc.v14i2.1170 | © 1983 M. C. Rutherford | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 31 October 1983 | Published: 17 December 1983

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M. C. Rutherford, Botanical Research Institute, Department of Agriculture, South Africa

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Abstract

A study, carried out in non-wooded parts of savanna and in desert grassland, demonstrated that herbaceous standing crop can decrease with increasing surface rock cover. However, such decreases corresponded more directly to a soil volumetric decrease than to a decrease in soil surface area per se. The relationship was also found to depend strongly on subsurface rock weathering patterns which may reverse the indicated relationship between standing crop and surface rock cover. The application of surface rock cover data without regard to profile stoniness, is, therefore, likely to be of limited use for comparing plant production across different geological substrates. The role of different rock types in giving rise to soils of different fertility with corresponding plant responses, was also indicated by the data. Sensitivity of plant standing crop to surface rock cover was possibly dependent on mean annual rainfall, but further data are required. The interpretation of aboveground standing crop data in terms of aboveground annual production is briefly discussed.


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