International Perspective: Visiting with farmers in South Africa
As I write this I am at the end of my second week in South Africa. During my second week here, I have been travelling around meeting some farmers. We’ve been discussing their thoughts on precision farming and why they have adopted it. Coincidentally, I was also present during the installation of the first ParaDyme™ system sold into Africa.
Dries Minaar is the owner of the CAT MT865C that this has been fitted to. He farms 2000ha (5000ac) near Bothaville, in the Freestate. The entire area is planted with maize (corn in the US) each year, moisture permitting and averages 5t/ha (approximately 80bu/ac). He runs a staff of 18 and mainline machinery includes:
CAT MT 856C 3 x CAT 45’s JD 4730 sprayer Harvesting is contracted so he does not own a combine
Corn here is on wide row spacing of 1.5m (60”). The reason for wide rows like this comes down to available moisture during the growing season. Water is one of the most limiting factors, however it is not because of lack of rainfall (500-600mm/20-24” annually), but because they do not always get rain at the right time. It comes in big deluges here, which were especially bad this year, and caused some crops to suffer as a consequence.
When asked about his reasons for adopting precision farming, the answer was simple: “If you don’t do it properly, don’t do it all”. He believes precision farming is the key to success in an industry where making the most efficient use of inputs is the only way to ensure long term sustainability. So, my trip to South Africa has come to an end and as always it has been an enjoyable experience. I will leave you with one of my favourite images of South Africa – the fabulous sunsets: