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The latest publication from one of our PhD students, Victor Mashamaite, who is co-supervised by Drs Anouk Albien, Natasha Mothapo, PJ Pieterse, and Ethel Phiri.

The title of the paper is: A SUSPECT under the National Environmental Management Biodiversity Act (NEM:BA) – Moringa oleifera's ecological and social costs and benefits. The paper highlights the potential conflict that is generated by moringa cultivation, particularly between communities (farmers) and policy makers.


Here's a link to the article:

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Rhizosphere: unravelling the linkage between crops and soil


Rhizosphere 5, the fifth in a series of international conferences, was held by the University of Saskatchewan in Saskatoon, Canada, from 7 to 11 July 2019. The rhizosphere is the narrow region of soil that is directly influenced by root secretions and associated soil microorganisms known as the root microbiome. The exciting scientific program, under the theme Shining light on the world beneath our feet, entailed poster and oral presentations from delegates from 40 countries across the world. Research presented explored a range of topics and cutting-edge methodologies including, for example, root imagining and phenotyping, the root microbiome, image-based modelling of rhizosphere processes, microbial hotspots in the rhizosphere and root microbiome management.

The Local Organizing Committee provided a limited number of travel awards for students wishing to attend Rhizosphere 5. Stephano Haarhoff, PhD student at the Department of Agronomy, was awarded such award in a highly contested competition. From 71 applications only 28 travel awards were made available to students. A poster was presented by Stephano entitled “Response of rainfed maize root morphology to plant population under no-tillage". The poster reported partly on his field trial research conducted near Ottosdal in the North West Province. Stephano is currently completing his PhD work under the supervision of Dr Pieter Swanepoel and Prof Nick Kotzé, while the root study is conducted in collaboration with Dr Elmi Lötze from the Department of Horticultural Science.

Rhizosphere 5 provided the opportunity for delegates to network with international co-scholars and discuss potential future research in order to address crop production needs. The conference provided new insights regarding the complex relationship between crop roots, soil microbial and chemical functioning as well as the challenges faced within crop production systems. The South African Society of Crop Production is acknowledged for the provided financial contribution.


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 Congratulations Malcolm Kayes awarded for best presentation by a postgraduate student at the 2019 Potato South Africa Symposium


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Department of Agronomy well represented at esteemed congress


The South African National Seed Organization (SANSOR) held its 30th annual congress in Umhlanga Rocks, KwaZulu-Natal, from 22 to 23 May 2019. SANSOR represents the South African seed industry both locally and internationally, liaising with all parties relevant to the seed trade such as government departments/ministries, parastatal organisations, universities, institutes and organised agriculture. Another important objective of SANSOR is to ensure high quality seed production, hence providing crop farmers with the best genetic material as possible.


The congress was attended by more than 80 local and multi-national seed companies such as Bayer Crop Science, Pannar, DuPont Pioneer, Corteva Agriscience, Monsanto and Barenbrug. Several chemical companies, specialising in seed coating products, were also present. The programme was filled with presentations by interesting guest speakers, including extreme explorer David Grier, secretary general of the International Seed Foundation Michael Keller, and honey bee researcher Mike Allsop from the Agricultural Research Institute. The annual general meetings of SANSOR's three divisions (Agronomy, Horticulture and Forage) were also held.


SANSOR held its student research poster competition at the congress, providing the opportunity to future researchers in the crop sciences to discuss their current research and liaise with various seed industry role-players. Students (honours, master's and doctorate level) from across all South African universities were eligible to submit an abstract of their current research. The SANSOR committee then selected only ten entrees to present their research as a research poster at the congress. The Department of Agronomy were well represented with three students who were invited to attend the congress and present a poster - an accolade to the Department! Stephano Haarhoff (PhD), Karen Truter (MSc) and Louis Carstens (MSc) were selected to present their research. Stephano is conducting his research under the supervision of Dr Pieter Swanepoel. Stephano's research focusses on the effects of plant population and row spacing on the agronomic development and growth of rainfed maize under no-tillage, Karen is working in collaboration with the Western Cape Department of Agriculture with Dr Strauss and Dr Swanepoel as supervisors. She investigates the influence of various seed-drills on wheat, canola and barley emergence and growth. Louis studies the influence of various environmental factors on splitting of malting spring barley under the supervision of Dr PJ Pieterse and Prof Nick Kotzé.


The congress provided new insights regarding the functioning of the seed industry and the various challenges presented on national and international scale. It is clear that all key role-players need to contribute their part to ensure long-term efficient crop production in South Africa.

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Karen Truter (MSc 2nd year)

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Louis Carstens (MSC 2nd year)

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Stephano Haarhoff (PhD 1st year)



Congratulations to Dr Pieter Swanepoel with his recent promotion to Senior Lector at the University of Stellenbosch. We look forward to his continued contribution to the success of the department.


Boerderymetodes teen klimaatverandering

Die Ottosdal Landbouweekblad Herlewingslandbou konferensie is in Maart in samewerking met die Ottosdal Geenbewerkingsklub en Graan SA aangebied. Die tema van
die konferensie was “Laat die natuur vir jou geld maak”.
Dit het gehandel oor verskeie boerderymetodes wat plaaslike boere kan volg as wapen teen klimaatsverandering en stygende insetkoste. Hierdie boerderymetodes sluit in die geenbewerking van grond, ’n permanente deklaag, gewasro...tasie en die integrering van vee in die boerderystelsel. Die hoofdoel van hier die benadering is om natuurlike prosesse in die grond weer optimaal te laat funksioneer en uiteindelik voedselproduksie
te optimaliseer. Aan biedings is gelewer deur internasionale
spre kers soos dr Valeria Faggioli van Argentinië, prof Buz Kloot en mnr Sam Carter, beide van die VSA. Hulle het onder skeidelik oor geen bewerking en grond gesondheid in Argentinië, herlewings landbou en dekgewasse gepraat. Plaaslike kenners en boere het ook hul ondervinding met herlewingslandbou met die konferensiegangers gedeel. Die demonstrasies wat by die Ottosdal Geenbewerkingsklub se proef persele aangebied was, het groot belangstelling gelok. Hier word van die land se beste demonstrasieproewe in samewerking met GraanSA en die Mielietrust uitgevoer. Die proewe bestaan uit dekgewas- en wisselboustelselproewe, asook mielie kultivarproewe van verskeie saadmaatskappye.
Konferensiegangers het ook besoek afgelê by Maties PhD-landboustudent Stephano Haarhoff se proef wat handel oor die effek van plantdigtheid en rywydte op die groei, water verbruik doeltreffendheid en wortelgroei van mielies onder geen bewerking. Stephano doen tans sy PhD onder leiding van dr Pieter Swanepoel en prof Nick Kotzé van Departement Agronomie. By sy besoekpunt is daar gesels oor die waterverbruik van verskillende plantdigtheid en rywydte kominasies, asook die belangrike funksies wat wortels verrig in graanproduksie en hoe mieliewortelgroei beïnvloed word by verskillende plantdigthede. ’n Wêreldwye tekort aan wortelnavorsing word tans ervaar, alhoewel die belangrikheid daarvan vir voedselsekerheid erken word. Die wortelstudie word in samewerking met dr Elmi Lötze van Departement Hortologie uitgevoer. Die twee-dag lange konferensie is afgesluit met lesings deur plaaslike boere oor die toepassing van volhoubare boerderypraktyke op hul plase, wat gevolg was deur ’n paneelbespreking waar die gehoor hul vrae kon stel. Beide bedryfsvennote en plaaslike boere het die Herlewingslandbou konferensie insiggewend gevind en sien reeds uit na aanstaande jaar se soortgelyke byeenkoms.

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 Call for papers for the drought special issue.









Enrike Verster gained the Southern African Weed Science Society award for the best poster entitled “The effect of applied plant available manganese levels in soil on Glyphosate efficiency in ryegrass (Lolium spp.)".  Enrike graduated with an MScAgric degree in Agronomy in December 2018.  She investigated the effect of high manganese (Mn) levels in soil on the efficiency of glyphosate on the important weed ryegrass.  The study indicated that high Mn levels in soil negatively influence the efficiency of glyphosate applied at low, non-lethal dosage rates.  This finding is not a problem per se, but under non-favorable spraying conditions may lead to inefficient control and ultimately to development of non-target site herbicide resistance.  Enrike worked under the supervision of Dr PJ Pieterse.

These accolades serve as an indication that both researchers and industry acknowledge the importance of these research endeavours.

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Congratulations to Malcolm Kayes and Stephano Haarhoff who took away awards from the Combined Congress of crop, soil, weeds and horticulture, hosted in Bloemfontein. Both awards are from the South African Society of Crop Science. Malcolm received the award for the best presentation by a student (Water use efficiency of potato production systems in the Sandveld). Stephano received the award for the best poster in Conservation Agriculture (Agronomic development of rain-fed maize in response to plant population and row spacing under no-tillage). Both students work under the supervision of Dr Pieter A Swanepoel

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The Department of Agronnomy welcomes Dr Ethel Phiri who was appointed in a new NGAP position since January 2019. Vegetable production and associated greenhouse management systems are one of the unique offerings at the US and the new capacity will help to further boost this division. New crops of interest will include blue berries while indigenous crops will be investigated for potential under greenhouse production.



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Dr Pieter Swanepoel, Lecturer and Researcher at Department of Agronomy delivered a keynote address during the 5th International Conference on Sustainable Agriculture and Environment in Hammamet, Tunisia.

The title presented was “Benefits of integrating livestock in conservation agriculture systems in Mediterranean environments".

More information about the Conference is available at

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'n Doktorale student van die Departement Agronomie, Stephano Haarhoff, het vroeër vanjaar 'n navorsingstoer na Argentinië saam met dr Hendrik Smith, Bewaringslandbou-fasiliteerder by Graan SA, meegemaak.

Die navorsingstoer is deur INTA (National Agricultural Technology Institute) gereël en aangebied. INTA is 'n staatsinstituut wat in beheer van navorsing en ontwikkeling van nuwe tegnologie, asook voorligting in die Argentynse landboubedryf, is. Die hooffokus van die navorsingstoer was om nuwe inligting en kennis oor gewasproduksie op te doen. Argentinië is 'n wêreldleier op die gebied van graanproduksie, waar sojabone, mielies en koring van die belangrikste gewasse is. Dit is verstommend om te verneem dat hoewel Argentinië maar 'n bevolking van sowat 42 miljoen mense het, dié land voedsel vir nagenoeg 200 miljoen mense produseer.

Die toer het afgeskop deur die bywoning van 'n reuselandbou-uitstalling, Agroactiva, waar die nuutste landboutegnologie in Argentinië ten toon gestel is. 'n Lesing deur die legendariese landboukundige, Mario Bragachini, is ook by die uitstalling gelewer. Verskeie INTA-navorsingstasies in verskillende graanproduksiestreke is ook besoek. Kenners op verskeie gebiede het hier lesings aangebied, onder meer oor die toepassing van geenbewerking, wisselbou, moderne oespraktyke en presissieboerdery. Besoek is ook gebring aan twee top-presterende boere. Een van dié boere, mnr Hugo Ghio, word wêreldwyd as een van die pioniers in die toepassing van geen-bewerking beskou en tel onder die leierboere in Argentinië.

Stephano was erg beïndruk om waar te neem hoe doeltreffend die boere en navorsers saamwerk. Hy sê: “Dit is baie duidelik dat 'n gesonde verhouding tussen boer en navorser 'n groot rol speel in die sukses van Argentinië se landboudebryf."

Stephano doen tans sy PhD onder studieleiding van dr Pieter Swanepoel en prof Nick Kotze in die Departement Agronomie. Sy navorsing fokus op plantpopulasie en rywydtes van mielies in geen-bewerkingstelsels.

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Warm and Cozy all winter long! Thank you to Overberg Agri Moorreesburg for sponsoring Jackets to our staff & Postgraduate students!





Unused furniture in the Departments of Genetics and Agronomy found a new home at Kayamandi Primary after the school's need for furniture was brought to the Faculty of AgriSciences' attention.

An article which appeared in the local newspaper EikestadNuus in January mentioned that although the education department had donated two new classrooms to the school, these classrooms had no furniture.

A colleague sent the article to Dr MJ Freeborough, faculty manager, who requested that Ms Farida Martin, technical officer in the Department of Agronomy, look into the possibility of donating furniture to the school.

The furniture had been removed from of the old lecture hall at the Winter Grain Building and was being stored in the Department of Agronomy's warehouse.

“I met with the principal, Mr Mpumei Mdekazi, who came to our warehouse to see what we had to offer the school. I also contacted the Faculty's asset register manager to ensure that none of the furniture was on the asset register anymore," says Farida.

On Wednesday, 14 March, 64 benches for the learners, 28 chairs, three steel drawer cabinets, two steel filing cabinets, four wooden tables and a refrigerator were loaded and transported to Kayamandi Primary.

“The school was very excited about and grateful for the donation. By the time we arrived there with the second load, some of the chairs in the first load had already been moved to their new places.

“There was definitely a great need for the furniture and the Faculty is very pleased that it could assist the school in such a way."



Centenary celebrations | Barter Market Day | 28 February 2018

An informal batering system where people trade 'this for that' depending on what is on offer. For example barter your packet of fresh garden greens for some peas, or a flower bouquet for some fresh herbs.
We had loads of bartering fun!






Pieter Swanepoel appointed editor of leading journal

Dr Pieter Swanepoel took over as editor of the African

Journal of Range and Forage Science in January of

this year. The journal is Africa’s leading rangeland and

pastoral journal with an Impact Factor of 0.961 (2016).

In recent years, the journal, co-published by NISC and

Taylor & Francis, has experienced significant growth

and improvement. It is dedicated to publishing quality original material that

advances rangeland ecology and pasture management in Africa.

Swanepoel is an Agronomist with a research focus on management

practices that improve soil quality of pastures and cropping systems. He is

particularly involved in dairy-pasture systems and conservation agriculture.

The African Journal of Range & Forage Science is the official journal of the

Grassland Society of Southern Africa of which Swanepoel has been a member

since 2009 and has been an Associate Editor since 2013.

As a gesture of welcoming Swanepoel as new Editor of the African Journal

of Range and Forage Science, a number of his previously published papers in

the journal have been made accessible for a limited time at no cost.

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Dr Pieter Swanepoel


Agronomy student gains award at African Congress

The African Combined Congress was hosted in Cape Town in January 2018. This year the African Crop Science Society, Soil Science Society of South Africa, the South African Society of Horticultural Science, the Weeds Society of South Africa and the South African Society of Crop Production combined their forces to create a platform where both renowned and aspiring scientists receive the opportunity to share their knowledge and findings and thus contribute to agricultural research within South Africa. Agronomy Department was well represented at the conference and students and lecturers presented four oral presentations and eight posters. 

One of the MSc students, PJ Neethling gained the award for the Best presentation in the field of conservation agriculture, which was awarded to him during the gala dinner. He works under supervision of Dr Johan Labuschagne and Dr Pieter Swanepoel on a project entitled 'Developing nitrogen fertiliser management strategies for wheat under conservation agriculture practices within the Western Cape'. This research is particularly important as soil quality changed after implementation of conservation agriculture for a number of years. As soil quality influence nitrogen cycling in soil, it becomes necessary to adjust N fertilisation. Current N fertilisation programmes for the Western Cape were developed for conventional cropping systems involving soil tillage. These guidelines are not accurate for the current production systems, and PJ's project will be the first step to re-evaluate the guidelines. His award serves as an indication that both researchers and industry acknowledge the importance of this research endeavour.

PJ Neethling

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Dr Ethel Phiri (Agronomy postdoc- first person on the left)

The audience sat up straight when sport scientist Dr Zarko Krkeljas began his talk on lower back pain at the annual Postdoc Research Day at Stellenbosch University. They watched closely as Dr Emma McKinney relayed ways with which to spot a fake sign language interpreter. And they listened carefully when issues about tuberculosis and schizophrenia were discussed, and when physicist Dr Ncamiso Khanyile explained how lasers are used to do extremely precise measurements.

The annual Postdoc Research Day held at STIAS provided a platform for postdoctoral fellows working at Stellenbosch University to showcase their research activities. The day was sponsored by the SU Postdoctoral Society, the Division for Research Development (DRD), SU International, Lanzerac Wines, Van Schaik Bookstore and ABSA.

“The University has a strong network of around 350 postdocs from South Africa and beyond who contribute significantly to the institution's publication record," said Prof Eugene Cloete, Stellenbosch University's vice-rector: research, innovation and postgraduate studies.

Talks were presented in the fields of engineering, mathematics, physics and biochemistry, as well as the biomedical, environmental and social sciences.

“I am always amazed at the quality of research being produced at Stellenbosch University by its postdoctoral cohort - world class research at the tip of Africa," said Dr Romina Henriques, outgoing chair of the SU Postdoctoral Society.

Great white shark researcher Dr Sara Andreotti of the Department of Botany and Zoology won the Dirk Stephan/DRD Travel Award that was up for grabs for the best speaker.  The Award worth R15 000 was set up in honour of the late Dr Dirk Stephan, a much-loved and respected member of the Vitis Lab in the Department of Genetics. He first started working in 2007 at Stellenbosch University as a postdoctoral fellow, and later became a researcher.

The runners-up, sign language expert Dr Emma McKinney of the Department of Psychology and physicist Dr Daniel Nickelsen of the National Institute for Theoretic Physics (NIThEP) received vouchers from Van Schaik Bookstore.

Dr Andreotti also entered the best video. Dr Waafeka Vardien of the Department of Horticulture submitted the best article. The winners were awarded cash prizes worth R1 000, sponsored by ABSA.

At the event, the new SU Post Doc Society Executive Committee was also announced. They are Dr Natasha Mothapo (Department of Botany and Zoology), Dr Zarko Krkeljas (Department of Sport Sciences), Dr Daniel Nickelsen (NIThEP), Dr Itziar Iraola-Arregui (Department of Processing Engineering) and Dr Jacqueline Walubwa (Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences).

At a cocktail function later the afternoon, the names were announced of the 2017 Top 20 postdoctoral researchers at Stellenbosch University, as selected by the office of the vice-rector: research, innovation and postgraduate studies. Each received a cash prize of R10 000.

The Top 20 winners are: Jose Luis Aleixandre Tudo (Viticulture and Oenology), Mohsen Alimandegari (Process Engineering), Alexander Andrason (African Languages), Sara Andreotti (Botany and Zoology), Chris Broeckhoven (Mathematical Sciences), Sjan-Mari Brown nee van Niekerk (Physiotherapy), Mareli Claassens (Paediatrics and Child Health), Marinus de Jager (Botany and Zoology), Somayeh Farzad (Process Engineering), Laure Gallien (Botany and Zoology), Brigitte Glanzmann (Biomedical Science), Guilaume Greyling (Chemistry and Polymer Science), Lars Guenther (Centre for Research on Evaluation, Science and Technology, CREST), Romina Henriques (Botany and Zoology), Pietro Landi (Mathematical Sciences), Stephanie Malan-Muller (Psychiatry), Palesa Natasha Mothapho (Botany and Zoology), Ibukun Peter Oyeyipo (Medical Physiology), Ethel Phiri (Agronomy) and Georgina Spies (Psychiatry).






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AB InBev and Stellenbosch University: Partnership will increase research into beer ingredients


Agronomists and food scientists of Stellenbosch University have partnered with the multinational beverage and brewing company Anheuser-Busch InBev SA/NV (AB InBev). The R6 million funding that is being received allows them to tackle specific issues over the next three years related to the production of barley. It will also include crops such as cassava and sorghum that is often used in beer making in many African countries. 

Their endeavours are being funded through the new AB InBev Research Chair in Agronomy held by Prof Nick Kotze of the SU Department of Agronomy.

According to Prof Kotze, bursaries worth R1 million will be provided to six undergraduate and four postgraduate MSc students at SU. A further R1 million is being set aside to fund various research projects.

According to Dr Nikki Else, Research and Development Manager: Agriculture Africa at AB InBev, it is the biggest investment yet in a South African university by AB InBev Research, or by SAB Miller Ltd, with which it merged in October 2016. Beers such as Budweiser, Stella Artois and Corona, as well as local brands such as Castle Lager, Castle Lite, Carling Black Label, Lion Lager and Hansa Pilsener count among the popular AB InBev brands.

“We are excited about the partnership, and believe that the research will mitigate potential risks within the supply chain, demonstrating our commitment to South Africa whilst ensuring the required quality that meets the needs of our brewers and our customers," says Dr Else.

Much of the work will focus on barley, used in malt production, which is a core ingredient in many a beer brewed worldwide.

Different analytical tests will be developed to detect pre-germination in barley seeds as well as some identified barley defects.  These parameters all have an influence on the eventual quality of the barley to be used to produce malt, and which influences the supply of barley within the supply chain.

“From the research, we hope to put forward recommendations to predict the storage potential of pre-germinated grains, to ensure that crops are not lost completely," says Prof Kotze.

Cassava and Sorghum research will also be conducted where several varieties will be evaluated against agronomic and quality criteria. Various trial sites in Africa for selected varieties will be identified in order to determine different climatic and soil conditions on production.   

According to Dr Else, projects related to cassava and sorghum will help AB InBev increase its reach in Africa's local beer market.  

“Through this project we hope to provide guidelines to producers in these countries on the production techniques that work best to grow quality sorghum," says Prof Kotze.

Another project involves food scientists at Stellenbosch University which will focus on the detection of a quality compound issue found in the cassava plant. The project consists of Prof Kotze, Dr Stefan Hayward and Prof Pieter Gouws of the Department of Food Science at Stellenbosch University, as well as Dr Else of AB InBev.

“Laboratory facilities to do such tests are not always available in the remote areas where cassava is typically produced," explains Prof Gouws. “Therefore, we'd like to develop a kit that is easy and quick to use in the field."

The SU researchers will therefore be looking into ways to adapt the available corrin-based chemosensor technique that can currently only be performed in a laboratory
































Wêreld se grootste biermaker klop aan vir navorsingshulp by US

Landboukundiges en voedselwetenskaplikes van die Universiteit Stellenbosch gaan die wêreld se grootste biermaker, Anhauser-Busch InBev SA/NV (kortom AB InBev) oor die volgende drie jaar help met navorsing oor die produksie van gars.

Heindrich Wyngaard praat nou hieroor met prof Nick Kotze wat die AB InBev Leerstoel in Agronomie by die Universiteit Stellenbosch beklee.





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From left to right: Dr Marcellous Le Roux (Lecturer), Derick Becker (2nd year MSc student)

and Jacques van der Linde (2nd year MSc student)


Derick Becker (MSc student)




Dr Marcellous Le Roux (Lecturer) welcomed the guest visitors.


Dr Le Roux explains about the different plant systems and productions.



On their way to a tour to the Tunnels & Greenhouse








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AgriSciences student Kobus van Dyk now a WP rugby regular


BScAgric student Kobus van Dyk will pull a Western Province senior rugby jersey over his head for the eight time on Friday when his team comes up against Boland at DHL Newlands.

This loose forward made his debut for the senior squad this season in a match against the Sharks. He also played for the Stormers against the Kings.

Friday's game against the Boland is Western Province's last match in the group stages of the national Currie Cup series, and the team will hope for a favourable outcome to pave their way to the finals.

Van Dyk is the only full-time Stellenbosch University student to play for the Western Province this year. The team includes a few former Maties players. Van Dyk is a final year BScAgric student, and majors in Agricultural Economics and Agronomy.

He never played provincial rugby while at school. His career took off at university, and he was among the top try scorers for the Maties team during the past two Varsity Cup seasons. This 1.96 meter tall loose forward went on to represent the Western Province under 21 side.


Van Dyk chose to follow a study programme in agriculture because he has his sights set on farming once his rugby playing days are over.

"Since childhood I've gone around the farm with my father, helping where I can," tells this eldest of three sons who grew up on the wheat farm Anyskop near Caledon.

He acknowledges that it has been quite difficult over the past few months to adequately juggle his studies with his responsibilities on the rugby field. However, he realises that his efforts all contribute to shaping his dreams for the future.

"I don't have much spare time at present, because if I am not practising I have to study or complete an assignment," says van Dyk, who expressed his gratitude towards his lecturers for accommodating him.

"I try not to make my studies play second fiddle, because I know that the sooner I finish my degree, the more time I will have at hand to focus on my rugby," he states level-headedly.

Rugby dreams

Van Dyk not only has his sights on graduating at the end of the year, but is also holding thumbs for a 2017 Stormers contract and to get as much game time as possible in the provincial teams.

"After tasting what it feels like to play one game in the Super Rugby series, I am hoping for more such action," says van Dyk, who went to school at Overberg High in Caledon and Rȗens College near Klipdale. "I'm going to work very hard to achieve this goal."


MSc student off to Brazil (Not for the Olympics)

Charné Viljoen was selected to participate in the School of Advanced Science on nitrogen cycling, environmental sustainability and climate change in São Pedro, SP – Brazil. One Hundred students took part in the course, 50 were selected from across the world and an additional 50 students from Brazil. This course took place from the 31st of July until 10 August and was hosted by the University of São Paulo´s Center of Nuclear Energy in Agriculture (CENA) and the Inter-American Institute for Global Change Research (IAI).


The students attended lectures where theoretical knowledge regarding nitrogen, agriculture, sustainability and global changes was obtained. They were divided into groups according to continents and participated in group activities to evaluate and solve problems for the specific continents. Each group had the chance to present their findings after each project. The projects coincided with the lectures and were about for example nitrogen cycling, availability, anthropogenic processes, social-economic issues and public policy.


Every student also had a chance to do a poster presentation about the work they are currently doing, interact with experts and improve their project. Her research topic involves optimising nitrogen fertilisation of kikuyu and kikuyu-ryegrass pastures, which dairy cows utilise. Her project is being carried out on Outeniqua Research Farm, under supervision of Dr Pieter Swanepoel (Department of Agronomy, SU) and Ms Janke van der Colf (Western Cape Department of Agriculture). Outeniqua is a renowned research farm of the Western Cape Department of Agriculture where research information is generated for one of the most important dairy production regions in South Africa. Her project is focused on optimising nitrogen fertilisation of kikuyu-based pastures over-sown with temperate grasses. Amongst others, she will be assessing the strategic use of nitrogen fertilisation to prevent over fertilisation and damage to the environment. Through her study, she hopes to increase production efficiency of the dairy pasture systems, and contribute towards management systems which will support sustainability of the environment.

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New postgraduate diploma for agronomists


Enquiring minds in the seed or fertilizer industry, or those who wish to expand their knowledge of crops and fertilizer management can now consider doing a new postgraduate diploma in Agronomy at Stellenbosch University (SU). It will be offered from 2017 at the SU Department of Agronomy and specifically offers in-depth training opportunities to people who did not acquire their post-matric agronomy background at a university, but at an agricultural college or university of technology.

It was developed by experts at Stellenbosch University.

Course coordinator Dr PJ Pieterse of the SU Department of Agronomy answered a few questions about the course:

Q. Why was the diploma programme established?

A. There was a need among people who have spent a number of years in the industry to improve their knowledge about the latest developments, practical applications and research. The development of the course originated from requests from within the industry for further advanced and expanded support for people with an agricultural qualification in agronomy, but who do not necessarily have a BScAgric. This is because they studied at an agricultural college or university of technology (previously known as "technikons").

Q. Is the course presented full-time or part-time?

A. The course can be done full-time over one year or part-time spread over two years, so that people who are already working can also benefit from it without giving up their jobs.

Q. From which professions would prospective students come?

A. Some of our prospective students work in the seed and fertilizer industry, while others are involved in chemical crop protection. Some of the people interested in doing the course are currently still busy with their training at an agricultural college or university of technology and wish to continue their studies at SU immediately after graduating, to further expand their knowledge with this diploma.

Q. What background should students have who wish to enrol for this course?

A. It is aimed at people in the industry or recent graduates who already have a background in agronomy thanks to the three years of training they have enjoyed at an agricultural college or university of technology. However, they do not have a BScAgric degree, but rather a BSc degree or BTech degree.

Q. Which qualification must the person have to be admitted to the course?
A. Any three-year degree with Agronomy as one of their final year modules. They must also have a minimum mark of 60% in this subject. It is NOT for people who have already graduated with a BScAgric degree, and does NOT necessarily lead to further studies at master's degree level. The course thus offers those with a three-year agricultural qualification the opportunity to study further – an opportunity which is not generally readily available.

Q. Which specialist fields in agronomy are covered during the course?
A. Regarding pasture management, both cultivated and natural veld will be studied. There will also be a focus on cool weather crops, alternative crops, weed management, hydroponic cultivation systems and how best to do crop rotation, among others. Another field of focus is nutrition for vegetable crops which are cultivated intensively and extensively.

Q. Which modules are covered?
A. Modules are assessed on the basis of practical assignments, written assignments, tests and written exams in June and November. Students should be prepared for compulsory modules on:

  • Crops for extensive production systems
  • The physiological and ecological principles of pasture management
  • Weed management
  • Product physiology and technology suited to annual field crops
  • Intensive crop production systems

Q. How will students be able to apply their newly acquired knowledge in the workplace?
A. The extensive knowledge they will acquire will enable participants to identify, address and optimally manage problems which arise in any of the abovementioned specialist fields. They will for instance be able to compile nutrition programmes for hydroponically cultivated crops, draft weed management programmes, and develop crop rotations for different environments.

For more enquiries about the course, contact Dr PJ Pieterse of the SU Department of Agronomy on or 021 808 4805 or Ms Rahkeenah Peters on or 021 808 4803.

For media purposes only:

Dr PJ Pieterse

Department of Agronomy
Stellenbosch University

021 808 4805


The 4th year Agronomy students received golf shirts sponsored by

AGT Foods Africa.




























Golf Shirts for 4th year Agronomy students.JPG


Agronomy Excels at Congress

Researchers from Department of Agronomy excelled at the 51st annual Congress of the Grassland Society of Southern Africa (GSSA) held in Wilderness, near George. The excellence of research on pastures and forages at the Agronomy Department was acknowledged by the GSSA when three of the six scientific awards at the congress went to researchers from this Department. Dr Pieter Swanepoel, lecturer in Agronomy, gained two awards for a paper on 'Tillage effects, soil quality and production potential of kikuyu-ryegrass pastures in South Africa'. The one award was for the best presentation by a young scientist (younger than 35 years). The other award was the the Norman Rethman Award for the best over-all paper related to cultivated pastures. Furthermore, a PhD student from Coventry University (UK), currently collaborating with Dr Pieter Swanepoel and Dr PJ Pieterse at the Agronomy Department, gained the award for the best project proposal for 2016. This is for a project on diverse forage crops for weed management in crop rotation systems. Diversity amongst species and diversity of functional traits of species are important factors driving weed ecology in agroecosystems. This project will provide researchers and farmers in the Mediterranean region with important information on how effectively diversity could be used to suppress weeds in agroecosystems.

The GSSA Congress consists of platform and poster presentations of current and ongoing research related to advancing rangeland ecology and pasture management in Africa. The congress was attended by more than 200 rangeland- and planted pasture scientists, mostly from Southern Africa, but also from Central Africa, Europe and Oceania.

Department of Agronomy is worthy of these accolades when one considers their increasing number of research outputs over the past three years, and their utmost dedication to service delivery in their field.

Dr Pieter Swanepoel.JPGChloe MacLaren.JPG
Dr Pieter Swanepoel                                                                Chloe MacLaren PhD student from Coventry University (UK)

Tien finaliste is aangewys in die tweede verskansingskompetisie wat deur BVG, Grainco, die JSE en aangebied is.

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Albert Coetzee

Albert Coetzee 'n MSc student in Agronomie (tans in sy tweede jaar). Dr Pieter Swanepoel is sy studieleier en Prof Agenbag is sy mede-studieleier. Sy studie handel oor die gebruik van stikstofbobemesting om die opbrengs, kwaliteit, stikstofgebruiksdoeltreffendheid  en ekonomie van canolaproduksie te verbeter ('Rate and timing of nitrogen fertilisation for canola production in the Western Cape of South Africa')​

Sien asb die skakel hier onder na 'n artikel – 'n pluimpie vir Albert! Hy is een van die 10 finaliste van die BVG kompetisie. Die doel van die kompetisie was om mense in landbou meer vertroud te maak met die gebruik van afgeleide instrumente op die JSE om prysrisiko te bestuur.



Radium Engineering and Department of Agronomy take hands to make life easier


In each relationship there exists an expectation that the parties will assist each other in removing obstacles that make life difficult and in the case of Radium Engineering and the Department of Agronomy at Stellenbosch University, this sent​iment has gained a literal meaning.

Radium Engineering, a family business based in the north of the country, donated a Schulte Rock Windrower (rock rake) and Rock Picker to SU and demonstrated their features at the Roodebloem Experimental Farm near Caledon recently.

According to Gareth Roest, Sales Director at Radium Engineering, these rock removal machines were imported to South Africa for the first time approximately a year ago, even though farmers all over the world have been using them for many years. These specific machines are being impor​ted from Canada.

"The rock rake and rock picker reduce labour time and costs when fields are being prepared. The removal of rocks also eliminate damage to your other machines," Roest said.

Due to the increasing costs of manual labour over the past couple of years, mechanical stone and rock picking has become a critical part of farming.

The pivoting rock windrower (rock rake) is designed to windrow small to medium rocks (5cm-29cm) with ease, forming them into neat, uniform rows ready for pick-up by a rock picker. Roots, stumps, chips and other debris from land-clearing operations can also be windrowed. The rock picker gathers up the windrowed stones into a hopper to cart them off the field.

Radium Engineering has been using the implements for the past year and Roest said they were looking forward to receiving feedback.

"We want people to be aware of the technology available in South Africa that can make life easier," he explained.

He emphasised that it is part of their company's policy to help where they can and that this donation could be the start of a mutually beneficial relationship between Radium Engineering and Stellenbosch University

"We are relying on the university and the research being done by them," he said.

Prof Nick Kotze, chairperson of the Department of Agronomy in the Faculty of AgriSciences explained that the rock rake and rock picker will be used to prepare the department's various experimental plots.

"It will save us a lot of time," he added.

The Department of Agronomy focuses on doing research on industry-specific problems and supp​lying the agricultural community with specific answers to problems based on scientific trials.

They will be able to assist Radium Engineering in quantifying the impact of the rock removal machines.


Agronomist invited to join prestigious board​


Dr Pieter Swanepoel


Dr Pieter Swanepoel of the Department of Agronomy (SU) was invited to represent South Africa's Mediterranean region on the Scientific Advisory Board (SAB) at the recently held FAO­CIHEAM Sub­Network on Mediterranean For­age Resources 15th conference with the theme, Ecosystem services and socio-economic benefits of Mediterra-nean grasslands.

The International Centre for Ad­vanced Mediterranean Agronomic Studies (CIHEAM) is an intergovern­mental organisation composed of various member countries in the Mediterranean Basin. The CIHEAM

and the Food and Agriculture Or­ganisation of the United Nations (FAO) have been collaborating on various projects since 1977. The FAO­CIHEAM Sub­Network on Mediterranean Forage Resources works towards improving sustaina­ble management of farming systems in mediterranean areas.

The SAB is a body of indepen­dent senior researchers who are well­known and actively deal with grassland research under Mediter­ranean conditions. It consults on strategic aspects and comments on proposals by their biennial confer­ence' organisers.

The board con­ sists of one re­presentative from each of the fol­lowing regions: the West and East Mediterranean ba­sins, North Africa, Middle East, South Africa, South America and Oceania.

The conference brought together scientists and specialists from coun­tries in the Mediterranean regions to present studies and to discuss re search strategies and experien­ces enabling them to face current challenges in grassland management.


Kennis en die mag van die gemeenskap...



In 2014 het 'n groepie US-dosente saam met lede van die Genadendal-gemeenskap die "Genadendal Heuningbos Kennisvennootskap" geskep met die kerndoelwit om kennis oor heuningbostee met mekaar te deel en verder uit te brei. Plaaslike kennis en boekekennis word saam gebruik om nuwe kennis te skep. In dieselfde jaar is studente van die US getaak om navorsingsprojekte aan te pak. Met ondersteuning van CHEC, NUFFIC (SASA) en ander, is drie vierdejaar-projekte vir 2015 voltooi. Einde verlede jaar het die gemeenskap van Genadendal byeengekom om terugvoering aan te hoor oor navorsing in 2015 en US-dosente en -studente het verskeie aanbiedinge in die verband gelewer. Onderwerpe het gestrek van die fisiologie van verskillende heuningbos-spesies tot die behandeling van die grond en die interaksie en balans tussen heuningbos en insekte. Die kurator van die Genadendal-museum, mnr Kumresh Chetty en sy personeel, het omvattende hulp verleen met logistiek en het ook die Hendriensaal beskikbaar gestel. Die volgende dag het die US-span die kleinboere ontmoet om hulle menings oor die groei van heuningbos verder te bespreek.

Uitruil van kennis wek bewustheid oor heuningbos, met inwoners wat inligting verskaf uit persoonlike ervaring. Die belangstelling van jeugdiges was ook opmerklik en so word kennis van geslag tot geslag oorgedra. Met die nuwe kennis besin kleinboere van Genadendal saam oor die volhoubare produksie van goeie gehalte heuningbostee.

Studente en dosente van Bewaringsekologie, Agronomie, Mikrobiologie en Plant- en Dierkunde is by hierdie proses betrokke.


Nick Kotzé vat leisels by Agronomie


Prof Nick Kotzé

​"Ons wil toenemend deur ons navorsing kwessies aanspreek wat vir die nywerheid belangrik is om sodoende te kan help om bedryfsproduktiwiteit te verhoog." Só gesels prof Nick Kotzé, wat onlangs die leisels as voorsitter van die Departement Agronomie oorgeneem het"


Kotzé was tot einde 2013 besturende direkteur van die saadmaatskappy Agricol, voordat hy by die Universiteit Stellenbosch aangesluit het om die Agricol-leerstoel in Agronomie op die been te bring. Hy is 'n Oudmatie wat 'n MBA agter sy naam het, asook 'n doktorsgraad oor die wisselboumoontlikhede van die weidingsgewas medics. Hy is ook nog lid van die SA Nasionale Saad-organisasie (SANSOR) se komitee vir veevoergewasse en dien ook in sy bestuurskomitee.



Dr Pieter Swanepoel

Nog 'n verandering by Agronomie is die aanstelling van grondkundige en weidingspesialis, dr Pieter Swanepoel, as lektor. Hy is van George waar hy as wetenskaplike by die Outeniqua navorsingsplaas van die Wes-Kaapse Departement van Landbou werksaam was. Swanepoel het verlede jaar sy doktorsgraad aan die Universiteit van die Vrystaat behaal oor die grond kwaliteit van weidings in die Suid-Kaap. Hy het in die loop daarvan 'n indeks ontwikkel om die grondkwaliteit van weidings in diéstreek te monitor en te bestuur. "Hierdie indeks neem grond-chemiese, fisiese en biologiese eienskappe in ag om grondgehalte te kwantifiseer. Dit kan deur boere,voorligtingsbeamptes, ekoloë en besluitnemers in die Suid-Kaap gebruik.​


Prestige RCA-genootskap aan Marcellous le Roux toegeken


Dr ​Marcellous le Roux

Die Nasionale Navorsing-stigting (NNS) se Navorsingsloopbaanbevordering-genootskap(RCA) wat vir vyf jaar geld, is aan dr Marcellous le Roux, tans die bekleër van 'n nadoktorale pos in die Fakulteit AgriWetenskappe se Departement Agronomie, toegeken. Die vermelde departement sal hom vir dié tydperk akkommodeer. Le Roux het in die eertydse Departement Botanie van die Fakulteit gestudeer waar die graad MSc in Natuurwetenskappe aan hom toegeken is. Hierna het hy die graad PhD aan die Universiteit

van Wes-Kaapland verwerf. Hy was maar 'n kort rukkie in diens van die Universiteit Stellenbosch toe nog 'n geleentheid hom in die vorm van die bovermelde RCA-genootskap onder beskerming van die NNS voorgedoen het. Sy huidige navorsing, asook dié in die verlede as plantwetenskaplike, het die interaksie van plante met hulle abiotiese en biotiese omgewing met die klem op plantvoeding behels.


Voorts maak sy wye belangstelling in 'n omvattende reeks dissiplines hom uiters geskik om tot die Departement Agronomie se missie en visie by te dra met volle aandag gerig opdie produksievermeerdering van voedsame graan-, proteïn- en olie-saadoeste op meer volhoubare en billike wyse wat deurslaggewend is om voedselsekerheid vir die ontluikende plaaslike en wêreldbevolking te verhoog. Le Roux het reeds heelwat as navorser vermag en die hoop is uitgespreek dat sy toekomstige bydraes die navorsings profiel van die Departement Agronomie sal verstewig en uitbou tot een van die sleutel-departemente in dié opsig in die jare wat voorlê.​


Agronomie-dosent besoek Mauritius

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Dr PJ Pieterse

Dr PJ Pieterse van die Departement Agronomie het op uitnodiging 'n werkswinkel in Mauritius oor onkruid identifisering en bestuur bygewoon. Dit was deel van die WIKWIO (Weed Identification and Knowledge in the Western Indian Ocean)­ projek. Die WIKWIO­projek word deur die ACP (African Caribbean and Pacific Group of States) Science and Technology Programme gefinansier. Dit beoog om voedselsekuriteit in die eilan­de van die Westelike Indiese Oseaan, asook Suidoos Afrika, te verbeter deur opknapping van gewasproduksiestelsels.


Vir meer inligting oor die program, kontak dr Pieterse by of 021 8084805​


Drie Agri-dosente kry hul PhD-grade


Dr Estelle Kempen

Drie dosente tel onder die meer as 220 nuwe graduandi van die Fakulteit AgriWetenskappe. Hulle is dr Pierre Ackerman, voorsitter van die Departement Bos- en Houtkunde, dr Erna Blancquaert van die Departement Wingerd- en Wynkunde en dr Estelle Kempen van die Departement Agronomie. Dié drie het PhD-grade in onderskeidelik Bosbou en Natuurlike Hulpbron wetenskap, Wingerdkunde en Agronomie ontvang.

 Ackerman het die voorsieningsketting in die SA-bosboubedryf ondersoek; Blancquaert het die invloed van lig en temperatuur op Cabernet Sauvignon-produksie vergelyk en Kempen het studies gedoen oor die opname van water en voedingstowwe deur tamaties wat in kweekhuise danksy grondlose sisteme, soos hidroponiese sisteme, geproduseer word.