The University owns two experimental farms (Welgevallen and Mariendahl) that are used mainly for the training of undergraduate students and for research projects of postgraduate students and academic staff of the Faculty of AgriSciences. The farms serve in the first place as field laboratories where research projects and training of students are conducted under highly controlled conditions. However, the farms are managed in a way that simulates the practical conditions on commercial farms in the agricultural industry. Where feasible, the spare capacity of the experimental farms is utilised for commercial production in order to manage these farms as self-sufficiently as possible.
Welgevallen was purchased in 1917 at the founding of the Faculty, specifically because it was a condition that an experimental farm had to be within walking distance of the campus. Its original size was 278 ha, of which only 120 ha remain available. Welgevallen is used mainly by the academic departments of the Faculty of AgriSciences. The entire Department of Agronomy is situated at Welgevallen, where it has several laboratories, controlled-climate growth chambers and plastic tunnels, as well as small experimental plots. TheDepartment of Horticulture has well-established deciduous fruit and soft citrus orchards at its disposal, while the Department of Viticulture and Oenology has well-established vineyards producing grapes of the highest quality. An experimental wine cellar equipped with the latest technology and where wine is made on a semi-commercial scale has been erected on the banks of the Eerste River. The Department of Animal Sciencesalso has excellent research facilities at its disposal. This department maintains a highly productive Friesian herd that is used for training, as well as for research. There are also well-equipped facilities for the execution of intensive nutritional research on large and small ruminants. Other departments that are active on the experimental farm are Genetics, Soil Science and Forest Science. The Department of Geneticsannually plants 8 000 to 13 000 segregating populations and pure lines from the wheat and triticale breeding programmes under dryland conditions at Welgevallen and Mariendahl for disease evaluation and selection. The Department utilises several greenhouses and growth chambers for making crosses, doing seedling disease typing and carrying out an extensive crossbreeding programme. The latter programme focuses on producing species hybrids and secondary hybrid derivatives in an attempt to transfer disease and salt tolerance genes from the wild species to the cultivated cereals. Even departments from other faculties, such as the Departments of Botany (testing of sugar cane) and Zoology (research on bee colonies), make use of the facilities on the farm.
Mariendahl (375 ha) adjoins the Elsenburg experimental farm about 14 km outside Stellenbosch. It is used mainly by the Department of Animal Sciences. The Faculty's excellent facilities for poultry and pig research are located at Mariendahl. The Department of Animal Sciences also has a Simmentaler herd, as well as a Döhne Merino and South African Mutton Merino flock, at its disposal. These breeds are of the highest quality and well known in the industry. The facilities are used for the training of students as well as for research for the industry.
Research on the experimental farms
The Faculty's experimental farms are utilised by many departments as field laboratories. More than 20 trials have been executed on the two farms during the 2006 report year. The research focus areas of the different departments are discussed under the heading "Research".
Enquries re experimental farms:
Welgevallen Experimental Farm:
Willem Van Kerwel
Experimental Farm Manager
Mariendal Experimental Farm:
Tel 021 884 4460
Cell: 082 771 2285