To manage a large dairy herd of more than 1 000 cattle is no small feat. No wonder Tshilidzi Matshidzula from the Little Barnet farm in the Eastern Cape inspired Angie Khumalo, presenter of Mzansi Wethu’s agricultural show African Farming, when she visited him. He is not just a successful commercial dairy farmer but also received the Eastern Cape Young Farmer of the Year Award, the first black farmer to do so.
Dairy farming is challenging and being able to feed a large dairy herd such as Matshidzula’s, becomes even more complicated if you choose to use a crop like maize.
“Most dairy farms are situated along the coastlines of the country and the farmers mainly use pasture-based rations, but what about those that choose silage and maize to feed their cows? ” she wanted to know from Ben Schoonwinkel, Head of Customer Marketing at Syngenta. Schoonwinkel said a dairy farmer’s main objective is for his business to be sustainable and to do that he needs to manage a herd that consistently produce high volumes of quality milk.
“To achieve this the cows need to be well fed and healthy.”
Most of the success of a dairy farm lies in the farmer’s ability to feed his animals high-quality crops.
“It is all about producing healthy plants which in turn ensures that a dairy cow receives the high nutritional value feed it needs to produce milk.”
He says there is a perception that pastures, or maize crops don’t have to be treated but it is crucial to manage pests in order to protect a cultivar’s health.
“If you look after your crop, you will be sure to grow high yields of good-quality feed for your cows and in the end enhance production gains, which leads to good profit margins.”
Syngenta is currently one of the main players in the development of new traits to further enhance production gains. To safeguard their substantial investment in new traits, growers need a range of solutions to protect their crop from weeds, insects and environmental stress.
The company’s focus has expanded over the past few years. They have created a new research field, known as “crop enhancement”, within the industry. Currently they are leaders in this field, which is aimed at producing a better yield.
This approach creates new value for their clients and everyone who is directly or indirectly dependant on agriculture. Syngenta’s approach is therefore one of yield management rather than the traditional approach of weed, insect and disease control.
For information: contact Syngenta on 011 541 4000.