Smart farmers

Expert view

German initiative to accelerate farm tech uptake in South Africa

A joint venture promises to accelerate the adoption of advanced farming technology in South Africa. 

Barloworld Agriculture, one of South Africa’s leading agricultural machinery distributors, with the Massey Ferguson and Challenger franchises, recently entered into a joint venture agreement with the German group, BayWa of Munich.

The group claims to be one of the world’s leading agricultural traders and the largest distributor of Agco products. Through its subsidiary, FarmFacts, the group is said to be the foremost promoter of Digital Farming in Germany.

Digital farming solutions

BayWa is planning to introduce digital farming solutions to South African agricultural enterprises, based on the company’s existing digital portfolio and experience with Agco products, in order to expand and develop operations in the region.

At Africa’s largest machinery expo, Nampo in the Free State Province in May and at last week’s (26 May) Royal Agricultural Society’s show in Pietermaritzburg, KwaZulu-Natal, the Massey Ferguson stands had displays of relevant technology. Experts were on hand to explain the various systems and how they can be integrated into the farmers’ specific operations.

Being promoted under the NEXT Farming label, it claims to offer smart solutions for every business, with innovative software designed to be manufacturer-independent and self-explanatory.

NEXT Farming. Photo credit: Arthur Gray

NEXT Farming. Photo credit: Arthur Gray

Compatability with other systems

The fact it can be integrated into existing systems proved to be the most attractive feature to farmers who have already embarked on digital farming projects. The main purpose is to make agricultural businesses more successful with cloud-based software, enabling access to data from wherever it is needed, in the office or in the field.

Various demonstrations at the shows included examples of guidance and automated steering systems and also implement guidance systems plus flow and application control, relevant to section control on sprayers.

Cut weed costs

Also on show was variable rate application and seed monitoring, extending to complex applications such as crop sensing to create maps that indicate nitrogen requirement. Advanced automatic spot spray systems, based on weed identification, were claimed cut weed control costs by as much as 80%.

Yield monitoring is another aspect, creating maps that can help compare the performance of different seed varieties and fertilisation programmes in order to improve yields over the years.

See also: Variable fertiliser approach raises dry-land maize yields

Finally, irrigation and water control are other features of the programme that the new venture will promote to South African farmers through the NEXT Farming initiative.

So could the NEXT Farming initiative spark a new wave of farming technology use in South Africa? Time will tell in the years ahead.