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Narrower rows, higher yields in South Africa

Andrew Fyvie has found that closing his maize rows down to 450mm has resulted in improved maize yields.

Andrew farms in the Bergville district of Northern KwaZulu-Natal on Tregenna Farm, where he has practised a no-till regime for many years.

No-till in South Africa

Northern KZN farmers are the pioneers of no-till in South Africa and, in this part of the country that usually means no cultivation at all, between harvesting and planting. Heavy crop residue or cover crops are essential to prevent run-off as this area, near the Drakensberg mountains, experiences fierce thunderstorms, which can do immense damage to the lands if they are not protected.

After trying different row-widths Andrew was convinced that 450mm gave the best results. However, this created a problem as the currently available planters had difficulty coping with the large amount of crop residue when attempting to plant with such narrow rows. The design engineers at South African manufacturers Rovic Leers committed themselves to solving this impasse and the farmers of the area were agreeably surprised by this dedication to problem solving. A lot of time was spent in the field observing the way different combinations of coulters and residue management systems coped with the problem. The net result was the ROVIC Syncroplant® Row-crop Planter.

A lot of time was spent in the field observing the way different combinations of coulters and residue management systems coped with the problem. The net result was the ROVIC Syncroplant® Row-crop Planter.  Photo: Rovic
A lot of time was spent in the field observing the way different combinations of coulters and residue management systems coped with the problem. The net result was the ROVIC Syncroplant® Row-crop Planter. Photo: Rovic

Andrew says that he and other farmers using this machine have a huge appreciation for the time Rovic Leers spent listening to them before developing a planter that is suitable for their unique environment and the requirement for precision planting under no-till conditions. The design allows for the substantial amounts of crop residue between the narrow 450mm rows that are proving to be the most productive in this area. Andrew’s planter incorporates Precision Planting’s technology to ensure accurate metering of the seed and fertiliser, including variable rate options, which helps to reduce input costs with this type of precision farming regime.

Andrew feels that the contribution of local machinery manufacturers, specifically Rovic Leers, has added to the success of no-till in this area. He says: “A number of manufacturers whom we approached were not prepared to work with us to produce a planter that had the correct residue flow, but Rovic was prepared to spend time on the problem. This planter has also improved productivity at planting time; with this 19-row machine we can plant 45/50 hectares a day.”

No-till with the ROVIC Syncroplant

The ROVIC Syncroplant® is highly adaptable and can be configured for all types of cropping systems from Conventional to min-till and full on no-till. No-till club members are adamant that their persistence with this practice has shown major benefits in the structure of the soil in this area, particularly water infiltration.

A planter is now available that can accurately plant in all conditions, from conventional to min-till to no-till, which means that a progressive switch over from conventional to conservation farming can now be achieved without the need to change the planter!

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