With today’s rapidly evolving digital technology, farmers have many options, but at a high cost. Discerning between the hype and the useful is therefore crucial to buying the right tools to increase profit. Digital and technology experts Rudie Raath and Stehan Cloete spoke to Lindi Botha.
The COVID-19 pandemic had brought new appreciation for the pivotal role that South Africa’s agriculture sector plays in the provision of healthy, sufficient and affordable food, according to Derek Mathews, chairperson of Grain SA.
With the majority of food crops being pollinated by bees, dwindling colonies pose a threat to agriculture. But while pesticides play a major role in declining bee numbers, monocultures and a lack of biodiversity are the greater problem. Lindi Botha spoke to industry leaders.
Across the world, food consumption patterns are undergoing vast changes, necessitating changes in the agricultural landscape. Lindi Botha spoke to Mark Hassenkamp, agri-tech adviser to Blue Horizon Corporation, which holds a portfolio of companies including Red Sun Hortitech, Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods, about the movement towards plant- and insect-based proteins, and the impact this will have on agriculture.
Caring for the indigenous vegetation on a farm not only helps protect plant species from extinction, but benefits the production of crops in several crucial ways. Glenneis Kriel spoke to Cape Nature botanist Rupert Koopman and Stellenbosch University researcher Rhoda Malgas.
Erik de Vries, a director at precision farming consultancy Agri Technovation, says the number and diversity of data points generated by precision agriculture technologies require capable central platforms to allow the information to add value to farming businesses.
In tackling the problems that affect the lives and the livelihoods of millions of people, there is no room for mediocrity and no time to be timid.
No continent will be struck as severely by climate change as Africa. Due to the continent’s limited adaptive capacity, exacerbated by widespread poverty, climate change is a grave threat to economic growth and the livelihoods of vulnerable populations.
Agriculture has reached a critical point. Farmers are trying to meet the global challenge of providing nutritious food for a rapidly growing population constantly demanding healthier food.
Recent breakthroughs in gene editing technology mean that advancements in the industry can be brought to the farm faster, cheaper and more accurately than before. The result is plants and livestock that are naturally more resistant to disease, crops that are higher-yielding, and ultimately, more sustainable, profitable farms.
The argument against beef production is gaining momentum, with the industry being accused, often inaccurately, of significantly increasing greenhouse gas emissions. However, climate-smart farming and improving productivity can reduce emissions.
Dr Willem de Clercq, a researcher at the Water Institute at Stellenbosch University, says that all farmers, and especially those who practise conservation agriculture, need to approach irrigation in a holistic manner that will ensure sustainable production.