Engineers from across the country are getting ready to gather for the South African Institute of Agricultural Engineers (SAIAE) Biennial Symposium. Thabo Mavundza, engineering manager at Westfalia Fruit and president of the SAIAE, says that the symposium is a throwing open of doors to the wider engineering community.
Taking place in Tzaneen, the three-day symposium is one of the largest knowledge-sharing events within the agricultural engineering community. Mavundza says that traditional agricultural engineers will benefit from the know-how of other engineering specialties.
“We want to create an atmosphere where engineers who operate in agriculture come together because we have acknowledged that, as traditional agriculture engineers, we need the help of [other kinds of] engineers. What we want is to house engineering in agriculture. We want it to have a home in the industry, so we are inviting all engineers to come.”
For Mavundza, improving the agricultural industry through knowledge sharing is of the utmost importance. He encourages all engineers to join the symposium, as they can share valuable knowledge with the industry and in turn, gain value for themselves too.
“[Engineers] should affiliate with us. They can come and share their stories, they can come and tell us successes in their industry, or their company, while helping the agricultural industry grow.”
Mavundza says that the symposium is not just limited to researchers, but also includes other professionals working in the industry.
“All engineers who are working in the industry, who want to come and share their knowledge, share their papers if they are in research, or share their case studies if they are in the commercial or private sector, are invited. It’s not only about research. If you are in a corporate or private company, and you find something that is working and you have really good results, come share it with the world so people adopt it wherever it’s needed.”
Everything you need to know about the symposium
Taking place at Fairview Hotel between 21 to 23 September 2022, this year’s symposium is sponsored by the Agricultural Research Council (ARC), Limpopo Tourism, CIGR International Commission of Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering, and the University of Free State, amongst many, many others.
Mavundza explains that the symposium will address a wide variety of topics.
“We want to cover the fourth industrial revolution in agriculture, water resource management, mechanisation, irrigation design, and operation, as well as soil conservation, energy management, and renewable energy.”
Symposium participants who want their research, case studies or other work to be presented as papers during the event, have until 30 June 2022 to submit their abstracts. The call for papers is limited to certain fields, some of which are environmental engineering, agricultural structures, and drought impact mitigation, and participants who have submitted abstracts will be given feedback by 15 July 2022.
The theme of this year’s symposium is “The rise of engineering in agriculture”, the wording of which Mavundza says is deliberate. The wording is meant to encourage all engineering specialties to join.
He recounts the famous proverb, “n boer maak ’n plan”, or “a farmer will make a plan”, explaining that the proverb encapsulates the role of engineering in agriculture.
“This institute is here to tell the farmer, the company owner, business people, and government, that we can make the agricultural industry better by promoting engineering in all its spheres.”
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