Karoo vegetation is known to be resilient when left alone, vulnerable when browsed, grazed or trampled by too much game or livestock. Every vegetation or soil type found here has its own maintenance requirements, drought response, recovery and carrying capacity.
The people living, working and particularly farming here have a variety of needs, habits, views and styles of living and using the land. Water is always a key part of planning and living here. Simultaneously a tough and delicate region for food production, the Karoo requires informed residents, farmers, land owners and service providers to manage vegetation and soil while juggling economic variables.
The sustainability limits of land utilisation are scientifically determined but always pragmatically learnt, relearnt, adapted and tested by farmers who control some variables, never all. The successful farmer knows the plants that signal grazing and browsing potential and readiness, as well as the warning signs of overuse or climatic phases requiring downscaling.
Karoo scrub (karoobossies) and grass feature highly in Karoo farming. Poor practices bring increases in shrubs that may be pretty but useless in stock feeding terms. Some of these are Rhigozum trichotomum (driedoring), several Lycium species (kriedorings), Elytropappus rhinocerotis (renosterbos) and some Euryops species (harpuis); bigger shrubs that proliferate in response to certain human land use practices.
Grasses come and go with rainfall and stock levels, seasonal and mostly less durable than karoobossies. The grasses fare better when grazing of palatable species and trampling are not so intense that seed can’t be set.
Karoo grasses include species valued as fodder in genera like Themeda, Eragrostis, Chloris, Digitaria, Eustachys, Fingerhuthia, Heteropogon and Setaria, as well as poor grasses in grazing terms in genera including Aristida, Cymbopogon, Merxmuellera and Tragus (Vlok and Schutte-Vlok, 2015; Shearing and Van Heerden, 2008; Van Oudtshoorn, et al, 1991; Wikipedia).