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
woodland area 40 8
Grass (upland) 510 120
Vleis (wetland) 100 30
Total carrying capacity   163
2. Driffield section 635  
Dams 5 NIL
Woodland area 195 25
Rocky outcrops and hills 45 5
Grass fields 330 95
Vleis 60 20
Total carrying capacity   145
3. Mkute section 369  
Dam 4 nil
Woodland area 20 3
Grass fields 195 44
Vleis 150 36
Total carrying capacity   83
4. Sheep paddocks 317  
Grass fields 120 30
Gum plantations (forestry) 150 15
Vleis 25 6
Woodland area 10 1
Infrastructure 12 nil
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
Woodland (windbreaks) 65 6
Total carrying capacity   16
6. Other Institutes 74  
Horticulture Research institute 50 n/a
Soil Productivity Research Lab 10 n/a
Met Department 7 n/a
Grasslands Primary School 5 n/a
7. Other Infrastructure 200  
Roads 45 n/a
Infrastructure ( farm Buildings/offices) 35 n/a
Cattle handling facilities 5  
Staff houses 55 n/a
Airstrip 60 n/a
8. Other Timber Plantations 50 n/a
Grand Total 2700  

Total LU = 459 (based on available grazing land).  One (1) LU = a beast (cattle) of 500 kg.