A word from… Phumzile Ngcobo
As farmers look forward to the upcoming planting season, they cannot help but look back at the previous one and the lessons it presented.
Most important to farmers is obtaining good average yields. However, the shift towards the use of sound and good agricultural practices is increasingly becoming an important factor.
Recent history has illustrated how the agricultural industry is largely affected by additional factors, including the climate, input supply and marketing. Farmers’ ability to adapt to prevailing climatic conditions influences their productivity and the sustainability of agricultural production systems.
The variable nature of factors affecting farmer productivity (climate, input supply and markets) requires farmers to be more intentional regarding their production practices. While the productivity objectives are met, the environmental and regenerative aspects of production need to be largely considered.
Soil testing is one of the most basic and important tools for the management of crop production operations – allowing the correction of imbalances and the application of recommended fertilisation programmes to obtain the best possible yields. Seed variety selection should consider climatic conditions prevailing in the region.
As the saying goes, never put all your eggs in one basket! Diversification of enterprises is key where complementary and supplementary enterprises can be managed to operate to the optimum benefit of farmers and their livelihoods. Grain crop production should, where possible, be supplemented by livestock production and vice versa. This is to create a symbiotic relationship between enterprises and the ultimate resilience and sustainability of farmer and farming operations.
The management of the crop throughout the growing season in relation to weed, pest and disease management is one of the determining factors of a successful harvest.
– Phumzile Ngcobo is the assistant regional manager at the Dundee office.
Publication: October 2023