South Africa may be in the grips of a lockdown to curb the spread of the COVID-19 virus, but that does not mean that the agricultural community has been resting on its laurels – not by a long shot. In fact, even though the borders may be closed and severe restrictions have been placed on sectors like the wine industry, South Africa’s immense productive farms have been hard at work keeping the nation afloat.
Good news from within the South African Agri-industry
According to Tonie Fuchs, Managing Director at Capespan Group Limited, agriculture is thriving. The sector grew by 28% in the first quarter of 2020 while the economy as a whole shrunk by 2%. Further good news includes that agricultural economists expect the second-largest grain harvest in SA’s history and that the maize harvest is forecast to be 38% larger than what was gleaned in 2019. Not to mention the citrus harvest that is poised to be at least 13% larger than last year’s.
Even in areas like the Swartland in the Western Cape, which is notoriously dry, producers like Stephan Basson from Babylon’s Peak have been hard at work during their ‘downtime’, planting 20ha of new vineyards and boring for new water sources to supplement their existing resources in the coming summer months.
In short – the news from within the South African growing community is good. The positive growth in this sector can in large part be ascribed to an increased focus on making sustainable choices when it comes to the maintenance and irrigation of large-scale corps. SA farmers understand that our natural resources are under severe pressure and that it’s up to them to ensure the longevity of their respective enterprises by investing in emerging smart irrigation technologies that optimise water use.
How can you increase water efficiency on your farm in 2020?
The volume of water used by irrigated agriculture has been estimated to be between 51% and 63% of total water available in South Africa. This means that farmers and agri-business owners have the responsibility to use this water available extremely efficiently in order to ensure maximal yields, food security for the nation and the growth of the industry in general.
Fortunately, there are various cost-effective ways to do so. Here are a few of the most basic ways in which precious water sources can be put to efficient use on farms of all shapes and sizes:
- Start by selecting water-wise crops that are suited to the soil type and prevailing weather conditions in your region.
- Prepare your soil well, making sure that optimal tillage is employed to avoid unwanted compacting and nutrient leeching in future. Practice soil conservation for long-term sustainability.
- Plant and harvest at the optimal time for each crop – by following the natural rhythms of nature, farmers can optimise the usage or resources immensely.
- Plant cover crops to increase soil organic matter, reduce unwanted evaporation, soil erosion, soil compaction, and control weeds.
- Irrigate at high frequency and in the exact amounts needed to prevent water deficits, taking account of weather conditions and crop growth stages. This is where smart irrigation systems, such as those supplied by Bekmar Irrigation, come in.
These are just a few of the steps you can take to increase water efficiency throughout your operation. There are many other measures that can be taken to ensure that you’re making every drop count from the moment you put the seeds in the soil, until your crops are harvested and safely shipped off to market.
Would you like to learn more about automatic watering systems and how smart irrigation systems can simply your life and increase the water efficiency of your agricultural businesses? Get in touch with the Bekmar team today. Call 015 307 5990 to speak to one of our knowledgeable consultants and take advantage of our vast industry experience today.