Syngenta, in collaboration with John Deere, recently hosted the second knowledge hub in Bethlehem, Free State. The successful two-day event had a feast of information for commercial growers with topics around precision farming and data-intensive research.
According to the marketing head of Syngenta South Africa, Christian Giesel, the best way to prepare for the seasons ahead is by being up to date with the latest insights on pests, and seed- and crop-protection options. Developments in the cultivar scene, technology and equipment shouldn’t be forgotten.
“We need to achieve more from less and that we can only do through advances in technology and improvements in various spheres, be it technology that is used in terms of crop protection or seed technology,” Giesel pointed out to attendees.
Taking farmers to the next level
The purpose of the Syngenta and John Deere collaboration is to enable farmers and take agricultural production on their farms to the next level with technology.
“Nowadays you can have satellite imaging. It can show you where you have disease fields. What your performance is. We have various mapping tools available, internet things, everything is connected these days. Your machinery can talk to your harvesters and you can integrate all of that information. You can have artificial intelligence which helps you find solutions,” Giesel said.
Syngenta’s seeds business unit head of sub-Saharan Africa Hendrik van Staden says, “If we look at the global population and what is happening, we are currently sitting around 8 billion people on the planet. And if we look at generally where the population growth is and where we heading by 2050, we anticipate 12 billion people all of whom need to eat.”
He further adds that if the statistics are further broken down in terms of requirements, Africa is one of the core population growth centres accounting for 49% of that population.
“The land is not getting more. We are reaching a point where we need to work with what we have,” Van Staden explained.
Achieving precision agriculture in Mzansi
The first knowledge hub event took place last year in Napier in the Western Cape with a programme specifically aimed at wheat growers. The feedback was so positive that Syngenta, John Deere and Sensako immediately started planning a similar event for maize growers in the central parts of South Africa.
“We are very proud to be associated with a partnership with John Deere who will be showcasing what they have in machinery technology. Then we also have our colleagues from Sensako which was recently acquired by Syngenta looking at the seeds portfolio,” explained Van Staden.
While Giesel agrees that no one company can do this on their own, it is very important with the rapid advancement to try and see how all of this fits together to be able to realistically achieve precision agriculture.
“For us, the concept of the knowledge hub is really to try and showcase to you how these different advancements of technology fit together so that we can provide for future food production going forward,” said Giesel.
Agricultural advisor from the department of agriculture Nteboheng Moloi said that she enjoyed the knowledge hub and learnt a lot about the various kinds of technology.
“It was very informative, especially about the latest technology that is in the agricultural industry,” she said.
The Bethlehem day featured the Syngenta Maize Maze – a route with seven stalls where attendees were exposed to the latest research on the control of cutworms, nematodes and pigweed (specifically the dangerous newcomer Amaranthus palmeri), and learnt more about AgriClime, Syngenta’s weather-derived cover.
“Here we are and we are looking at potentially new technologies where we have drones providing us with agricultural solutions. We are finding ourselves in a period of extreme technological advances and we need to ask ourselves the question why is this necessary,” said Giesel.
Meanwhile, Sensako discussed new cultivars and Syngenta Seedcare, and the best treatments to protect seeds and seedlings. While application specialists shared tips on how to ensure that poor nozzle selection and adverse weather conditions do not impair the efficacy of crop-protection products.
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