SOLOMON MASANGO: A man with a vision
— Grain SA/ABSA/John Deere Financial New Era Commercial Farmer of the Year
PIETMAN BOTHA, SA Graan/Grain contributor
Solomon Masango is farming in the Carolina district. He is a conservation tillage farmer and produces maize and soybeans in a rotation system. Livestock also forms an important part of his farming operation.
He is a gentleman who is motivated to achieve success. The setting of goals helps Masango to stay focused and his vision for the future also helps him and his family to focus on achieving success. This driving force to succeed, his love for farming and his determination to be the boss were the main reasons why he ended up in the farming business.
Masango leases the land and veld that he is currently using. Afgri provides the credit for the business, but also helps with technical advice and mentoring. Mr Nick Basson is currently his mentor and he helps Masango with the basics of this farming enterprise. Learningis also important to Masango and he utilises every learning opportunity. He learns a lot from his mentor and the representatives of the input suppliers.
Soil and climate are the starting point of crop production. Basson helped Masango to determine the production potential of every land. With this knowledge, soil samples were taken, analysed and interpreted to form the basis of the fertiliser application.
The soil pH, phosphate and potassium levels were not within optimal production norms. These were corrected according to the requirements of each land‘s production potential and the fertiliser application is done according to these.
Soil scientists also ensured that there was no compaction in the soils that could prevent root penetration. Masango plans to implement a precision farming system later. Masango understands that the income per hectare must be more than the expenses to make a profit. Timing is also crucial. The right action must be taken correctly and on time to be able to produce a good crop.
‘Climate is a given, but as a farmer you have to be able to “read” the year and adapt accordingly. Timing is very important and all actions must be done timeously weather permitting,’ Masango said.
Planning helps him to be on time with all aspects of farming. Before the season Masango and Basson discuss and plan the coming season. They decide what, where and how to plant the crops.
Although a crop rotation system is applied, the profitability of the system must make financial sense. It is important to make sure that all the inputs are available on farm so that it can be applied on time. The credit Afgri provides makes this possible.
A direct planting system forms the basis of Masango’s grain production. The no-till planter he uses is capable to plant accurately and to place the seed at the right depth.
It is not only the planter that brings success, but the complete system that provides advantages. This year with the drought, the system makes it possible with follow-up rains to produce an above average crop.
According to Masango weed control is one of the most important aspects of his farming business. He makes sure that the herbicide is applied according to the recommendations of the representatives of the herbicide companies. In order to ensure that the herbicides and pesticides are effective only clean water is used. The sprayer used is also calibrated and equipped with the type of nozzles that will enhance the effectiveness of the herbicides and pesticides.
The workers on this farm are expected to take responsibility for the work they do. Their opinion is asked and their knowledge used in this farming business. Masango makes sure that his son also loves farming. He makes time to do some farm work with hisson. On Saturdays him and his son will do some in-season farm work. ‘I enjoy the time with my son,’ Masango said.
No work is finished until the paperwork is done. Masango also spends time to do planning and recordkeeping. He ensures that his Afgri account is up to date, correct and he will not pay the account if the mistakes are not corrected. The financial recordkeeping is done by an accounting firm so that the necessary financial statements can be compiled. He also keeps the crop records up to date and the cost and yields per land are recorded to evaluate his progress. This information is available and is used to plan ahead and to determine the breakeven prices for the different crops.
Tractors and implements
Masango owns his own tractors and implements. His equipment is functional and is kept in good working condition. The planters are equipped with technology that ensures that the seeds are planted accurately. The sprayer is also functional and is big enough to do all the work timeously.
Masango’s office travels with him. With an electricity convertor installed in his bakkie, Masango can use a computer and printer while he is in the land with the workers. This way he can do his office work while he is seeing to it that his workers are busy doing their work. Masango also applies the skills he learned in the mining industry and in the transport business on his farm. He believes that workers will treat you the way you treat them.
With farmers like Masango the future of the agricultural sector is in good hands and the country can rest assured that food security will not be at risk. He is currently in the process of buying his own farm and plans to expand his business.
For more information contact Solomon Masango at 082 321 2828 or Pietman Botha at 082 759 2991.
Publication: March 2016
Section: On farm level