Selecting the right seeds to plant each year is a challenge, especially in the Senekal district of the Free State, where Clifford Mthimkulu farms with crops. Kulani Machaba from Pioneer Seed SA gave him some valuable advice during the pilot episode of African Farming.
Angie Khumalo, the host of the show, visited Mthimkulu’s farm after which a panel of experts gave him some tips during a studio interview. Mthimkulu plants three crops: sunflower, soybeans and maize. He rotates the crops on different pieces of land each year to keep the soil healthy. Mthimkulu uses the no-till farming system, that way he keeps the soil covered and minimally disturbs the living organisms that keep his soil healthy and moist.
It is difficult to farm in the Senekal district as there are many challenges, but Machaba had some good news for Mthimkulu. He believes Pioneer can help Mthimkulu increase his yields and profit by using some of the seed company’s latest technologies. “When using the no-till farming system it is important to check the texture, as well as the structure of the soil,” he says. “Sometimes soil can become hard, especially during a season of drought. You will find that the roots of the plants can’t grow properly and can’t access enough nutrients and water.”
According to Machaba, Pioneer had collected valuable data over the years on the potential and performance of different kinds of crops in various parts of the country, even in Senekal. “With this data we are able to show Clifford the potential results of the crops he wants to plant and can further explain the genetic potential of a particular variety and the potential yield of such a crop on no-till land.” This will help Mthimkulu to select the right kind of crop from the start.
“Technology has made a big difference in terms of improvement in yield for different kinds of seeds and varieties,” says Machaba. “It is important that when Clifford chooses his seeds, he must make sure the quality (in terms of the available technology) helps him to give protection against some soil-borne insects and pathogens. Then when his crops grow, he can be sure his plants develop well and give him good and stable yields.”