Karel Williams handig 'stokkie' oor na 50 jaar getroue diens
Na 50 jaar diens sê Karel Williams aan die einde van 2019 sy finale totsiens aan die Department van Agronomie. Dis 'n merkwaardige mylpaal as mens daaraan herinner word dat die Universiteit in 2018 self sy 100ste bestaansjaar gevier het. Verder, as mens jou somme maak word jy bewus dat hierdie man reeds as n tiener by die Departement Agronomie aangesluit het. Hy self dink nostalgies terug as hy onthou hoe hy as jong man in die laat sestigs by Universiteit begin werk het; in daardie jare was die Universiteit as 'n instansie gereserveer slegs vir 'n uitgesoekte paar. Karel onthou die transformerende proses waardeur die Universiteit gegaan het. Hy voel gelukkig oor die pad waarlangs die Universiteit na 1994 geloop het waar dit 'n inklusiewe tuiste geraak het vir meer jongelinge. Die groei waarlangs die universiteit beweeg het maak hom hoopvol en positief vir die toekoms en hy is trots om met hierdie instansie geassosieer te word. Iets wat hom baie na aan die hart lê en oor die laaste paar jaar opvallend was, was die toetrede van heelwat vroue tot die bedryf.
Akkerbou & Weiding, is maar van die volksvreemde woorde wat hom begroet het toe hy sy voete die eerste keer oor die drumpel van die hedendaagse Agronomie geplaas het. Karel het homself vetroud gemaak met die werksaamhede op Welgevallen proefplaas, waar hy van hulp was in koring-gebaseerde navorsing. Hy het egter later nouer betrokke geraak by tamatie- en komkommer verbouïng in tonnels en vandag kan jy Karel niks vertel van dié gesogte gewasse se oplei en snoei om die beste opbrengste te kry nie (sien foto). Hy lees die plante soos n boek en is vinnig om in te gryp met een of ander intervensie om die plant tydens stres-periodes te laat aanhou groei. Ten spyte van die feit dat hy geen formele kwalifikasie gehad het nie, het sy begeerte om te leer hom gereeld laat raad vra. Sy vingerafdruk skemer duidelik deur by van die jonger manne wie hy onder sy vlerk geneem het gedurende sy tyd by Agronomie.
Oor die vyftig jaar het daar ook baie verandering plaasgevind binne die landbou-sektor. Waar hy vroeër jare alles met die hand gedoen het, het gevorderde toerusting en tegnologie sy dag tot dag werklading vergemaklik. Agronomie het vir hom oor die jare 'n tuiste geword. Dit is 'n plek waar sy kollegas hom geliefd laat voel het en omgegee het vir sy gesondheid en welwees. Oor die jare kon Karel insiggewende inligting met studente sowel as akademici deel. Hy kom deur heelwat afdelings-hoofde en hy onthou elke een nog by die naam met unieke staaltjies.
Hy is veral opgewonde oor die bydrae wat die proefplaas se studente en navorsers lewer ten opsigte van voedsel- en voedingsekuriteit aan mense sowel as die grond. Karel sien uit om vir die eerste paar weke van aftrede net die rustigheid van aftrede te geniet voor hy sal besluit wat hy vir die res van die daaropvolgende dae gaan doen.
Prof Ismail Cakmak from Sabanci University, Istanbul, Turkey and HarvestZinc
It is estimated that approximately two billion people suffer from micronutrient malnutrition, also known as 'hidden hunger'. At this backdrop, biofortification has been advocated as a nutrition-sensitive agricultural intervention that can work alongside other complementary interventions including fortification, supplementation, and other dietary diversification strategies. In terms of human nutrient disorders in South Africa, stunting and underweight remain the most common nutritional disorders affecting 1 out of 5 children and almost 1 out of 10 children, respectively. Iodine and folic acid status appear to be adequate throughout the country, almost one third of women and children were anaemic, 2 out of 3 children and 1 out of 4 women had a poor vitamin A status and approximately 45% of children had an inadequate zinc status (www.dbsa.org). Seemingly, in South Africa then, vitamin A, zinc and iron are the main nutrients deficient in human diets.
Biofortification uses conventional plant breeding methods to increase the densities of vitamin A, iron and zinc in staple food crops. The Department of Agronomy joined during Phase II (2013/14) of an initiative implemented (since 2008) by HarvestZinc under the auspices of HarvestPlus to do research on biofortification of seeds as a means to increase the zinc, iron and iodine contents of some of the local wheat varieties. The trials were conducted in two of the main regions of wheat cultivation, the 'Swartland' and Rûens areas, in the Western Cape for the last four growing seasons. Feedback on the findings from the final phase of this project was presented at an annual meeting in Antalya, Turkey on 14-15 October 2019. Since the inception of the programme, country teams and strategies were established to deliver seed and food products under social, commercial, and mixed marketing situations in Africa, Asia, and Latin America. At this meeting the success stories where school feeding schemes with the newly established biofortified seeds were rolled out, were highlighted. Moreover, 130 micronutrient-dense, high-yielding, and profitable varieties of key staple crops have been released in over 30 countries. In addition, the way forward to look at how implementation of overall findings would be utilised to encourage more widespread adoption was also discussed. The collaborators expressed shared hopes to capitalise on the rich body of knowledge acquired over the implementation of this project in the various countries in order to finally see the issue of 'hidden hunger' be a thing of the past.
New “South African” pasture crop for Australian farmers
Farmers in the sandy areas of Western Australia will soon be able to plant a brand new perennial pasture crop that originate from South Africa. Approximately ten years ago, researchers from the Murdoch University (Western Australia) went on a mission to find a new leguminous pasture crop for their farmers. The research group, led by Prof. John Howieson, went through most of the Mediterranean regions and their search was finally completed in South Africa. Lebeckia ambigua, an upright growing green plant with beautiful bright yellow flowers, was the plant that draw their attention. During their search for a pasture crop, seed from the Lebeckia plant was collected in the sandy-regions of the Northern- and Western Cape of South Africa. The surrounding areas where the plant was found compared well to typical conditions in Western Australia. According to the Australian research group, this plant grew in low rainfall areas (200 – 450 mm) with deep, infertile sandy soils. Prof. Howieson and his team took a few seeds back to Murdoch University and years of research led to the introduction of a brand new leguminous pasture crop for the low rainfall, sandy regions of Australia.
During the launch of the pasture crop in Australia, September 2019, Prof. Howieson mentioned that this specific crop would turn 3 million hectares of marginal soils into areas with productive summer pastures. The crop will be survive summer months and farmers will be able to increase the carrying capacity of their pastures. Economic analyses also showed that Australian famers could possibly make 400 Australian dollars more per hectare compared to other available pastures in the same climatic conditions. During the years the research group spent commercialising Lebeckia, two new rhizobium species (Burkholderia dilwothii and Burkholderia sprentiae) were associated with the plant. Inoculation with the rhizobium species will allow the Lebeckia plant to fixate nitrogen in low pH, sandy soils. No nitrogen fertilisation would thus be necessary on the pastures, however additional superphosphates and potassium are recommended in a 3:1 ratio.
The first seed will be commercially available to Australian farmers in 2020. This seed will be sold as the first cultivar of Lebeckia, Isanti. The cultivar name was given by a Stellenbosch University-student, Karen Truter. During a recent visit to Murdoch University in Australia, Prof. Howieson asked for suggestions for a cultivar name for Lebeckia. A decision was made to use word out of an African language that is easy to pronounce in English. Karen decided on Isanti as it means “sand" in Xhosa. The originally grows in the Sandveld-region of the Western Cape and therefore the name can directly relate to the original derivation. The Isanti-cultivar will probably be available to South African farmers in the nearby future. Researchers from the Western Cape Department of Agriculture received 100 grams of Isanti seed from the Prof. Howieson. They are aiming to establish a few plants in Hopefield and Lambersbaai to see if the crop will provide adequate pastures in sandy soils during late summer months and autumn. If the trial succeeds, agreements will be made with the Murdoch University to make the seed and rhizobium species available to South African farmers.
Karen Truter is a second year MSc student in the Department of Agronomy. She works under supervision of Dr Pieter Swanepoel and Dr Johann Strauss from the Western Cape Department of Agriculture. Karen's research focus on conservation agriculture systems and the type of seed-drill to use for crop establishment.
Stellenbosch University well represented at ISM2019
Mr Chuene Victor Mashamaite, a PhD candidate (Department of Agronomy), received the AgriSciences postgraduate travel grant to attend the Second International Symposium on Moringa (ISM) in Pretoria (10 – 13 November 2019), under the theme “The Power of Moringa in Solving Global Challenges”. The symposium was hosted by the South African Moringa Development Association (MDASA) and the Agricultural Research Council (ARC) in collaboration with various universities under the aegis of the International Society for Horticultural Sciences (ISHS). The conference was attended by 150 delegates from 24 countries across the globe.
Mashamaite’s oral presentation was entitled “Moringa oleifera’s ecological impact: does its presence deter or lure above-ground dwelling invertebrate species and flying arthropods?”. He compared abundance and composition of the above-ground dwelling invertebrate species and flying arthropods in moringa orchards versus natural sites. Mashamaite’s findings suggested that the presence of moringa provided suitable conditions for various invertebrates. Moreover, he found that moringa may not have any negative ecological impact on species biodiversity and environment. The presentation has been accepted for publication as a full paper in Acta Horticulturae’s moringa special issue. The PhD is transdisciplinary as stipulated by the Southern African Systems Analysis Centre (SASAC), which funds his PhD. He is supervised by Drs Ethel Phiri (SU), PJ Pieterse (SU), P Nathasha Mothapo (SU) and Anouk Albien (University of Bern, Switzerland). The conference brought together experts on moringa from all over the world and presented an opportunity for sharing and expanding knowledge as well as creating network opportunities. The conference was a major success and thoroughly enjoyed by all delegates.
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: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.sajb.2019.07.019
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.
Congratulations Malcolm Kayes awarded for best presentation by a postgraduate student at the 2019 Potato South Africa Symposium
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.
Karen Truter (MSc 2nd year)
Louis Carstens (MSC 2nd year)
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.
Call for papers for the drought special issue.
AGRONOMY AWARDS COMBINED CONGRESS 2019
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.
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
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.
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 www.agrienv.com
'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.
Warm and Cozy all winter long! Thank you to Overberg Agri Moorreesburg for sponsoring Jackets to our staff & Postgraduate students!
UNUSED FURNITURE FINDS NEW HOME AT LOCAL SCHOOL
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