History and Development
Grasslands Research Farm/Station was established in 1929 when Government bought three farms, which were consolidated into one farm in order to satisfy the growing demand for agricultural research in the high rainfall sandveld region. The main research focus was on dairy, beef, sheep and pasture research and production. The remaining part was farmed commercially for demonstrations. The station’s main dam was built across the headwaters of the Hunyani River in 1954 and this made work with irrigated pastures possible.
Studies on lamb production started in 1956 and on dairy in 1966. Success in livestock production was largely dependent on the outcome of work with pasture legumes and their combinations with grass pastures.
In 2007, the Grasslands Research Station was re-named Grasslands Research Institute to reflect its national focus and contribution. In that regard, the thrust of the institute’s research programmes has since been re-oriented from focusing on the minority large scale commercial farmers’ needs to include the needs of the majority and previously neglected communal, smallholder and the later models of A1 and A2 resettlement scheme needs for improving both livestock and pasture production. In Zimbabwe, beef and dairy cattle play a significant role in the livelihoods of communities through provision of meat, milk, draught power and general financial security. According to a nation-wide survey conducted by the Agricultural Research Council (ARC) in 1999, the major constraint to livestock production has been singled out as shortage of feed, especially during the dry season.
Table1: Current Land Use Apportionment and Related Stock Carrying Capacity
|Apportionment||Area (ha)||Carrying capacity (LU)|
|Total farm size||2 700|
|1. Lendy Section||700|
|Rocky outcrops and hills||50||5|
|Total carrying capacity||163|
|2. Driffield section||635|
|Rocky outcrops and hills||45||5|
|Total carrying capacity||145|
|3. Mkute section||369|
|Total carrying capacity||83|
|4. Sheep paddocks||317|
|Gum plantations (forestry)||150||15|
|Total carrying capacity||52|
|5. Experimental fields||355|
|Pasture research trials||140||n/a|
|Pasture seed plots||30||n/a|
|Forage production (live banks)||55||n/a (for hay production)|
|Other cropping fields||65||10|
|Total carrying capacity||16|
|6. Other Institutes||74|
|Horticulture Research institute||50||n/a|
|Soil Productivity Research Lab||10||n/a|
|Grasslands Primary School||5||n/a|
|7. Other Infrastructure||200|
|Infrastructure ( farm Buildings/offices)||35||n/a|
|Cattle handling facilities||5|
|8. Other Timber Plantations||50||n/a|
Total LU = 459 (based on available grazing land). One (1) LU = a beast (cattle) of 500 kg.