Prioritisation of native legume species for further evaluation as potential forage crops in water-limited agricultural systems in South Africa

  • Francuois L. MüllerEmail author
  • Lincoln M. Raitt
  • Samson B. M. Chimphango
  • M. Igshaan Samuels
  • Clement F. Cupido
  • J. Stephen Boatwright
  • Richard Knight
  • Marike Trytsman


In the face of climate change, identification of forage species suitable for dryland farming under low rainfall conditions in South Africa is needed. Currently, there are only a limited number of forage species suitable for dryland farming under such conditions. The objective of this study was to identify and prioritise native legume species that could potentially be used in dryland farming systems in water-limited agro-ecosystems in South Africa. Using a combination of ecological niche modelling techniques, plant functional traits, and indigenous knowledge, 18 perennial herbaceous or stem-woody legume species were prioritised for further evaluation as potential fodder species within water-limited agricultural areas. These species will be evaluated further for their forage quality and their ability to survive and produce enough biomass under water limitation and poor edaphic conditions.


Arid environments Fabaceae Leguminosae Ecological niche models Perennial forage species South African native legumes 


Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Francuois L. Müller
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Lincoln M. Raitt
    • 1
  • Samson B. M. Chimphango
    • 3
  • M. Igshaan Samuels
    • 2
  • Clement F. Cupido
    • 2
  • J. Stephen Boatwright
    • 1
  • Richard Knight
    • 1
    • 4
  • Marike Trytsman
    • 5
  1. 1.Department of Biodiversity and Conservation BiologyUniversity of the Western CapeBellvilleSouth Africa
  2. 2.Agricultural Research Council – Animal Production InstituteUniversity of the Western CapeBellvilleSouth Africa
  3. 3.Department of Biological SciencesUniversity of Cape TownRondeboschSouth Africa
  4. 4.DST-NRF Centre of Excellence in Food SecurityUniversity of the Western CapeBellvilleSouth Africa
  5. 5.Agricultural Research Council – Animal Production InstituteIreneSouth Africa

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