An investigation of natuurboerdery (natural farming) approach : a ZZ2 case study

Taurayi, Silent (2011-03)

Thesis (MPhil)--University of Stellenbosch, 2011.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: The aim of this study was to provide the first in depth description of the natuurboerdery farming system as developed and adopted by ZZ2, a privately-owned farming conglomerate in South Africa. Natuurboerdery aims to increase agricultural productivity and sustainability while maintaining environmental integrity to contribute to overall sustainability. A case study research design using multiple sources and techniques for data gathering was applied to investigate the reasons for and process of converting from conventional farming to natuurboerdery, describe the principles and practices of natuurboerdery farming and document the changes and benefits realised by conversion. It was established that ZZ2 converted to natuurboerdery farming due to the challenges associated with conventional methods of farming. The main challenges ZZ2 experienced were recurrent pests and diseases which were becoming difficult to control with inorganic pesticides, large decreases in yields and unsustainable production outputs or returns to support production costs mainly due to the escalating cost of inorganic pesticides and fertilisers. ZZ2 also became aware of the growing customer demand for healthy food produced by ethically accepted methods while minimising environmental degradation. A conceptual framework was developed to describe the natuurboerdery farming system, based on five principles or health aspects: agro-ecosystem health, soil health, plant health, food health and human health. All of the practices developed and adopted by ZZ2 were described and classified in terms of this framework. Natuurboerdery integrates the use of inorganic fertilisers and organic soil amendments for soil health and plant nutrition; inorganic pesticides, fermented plant extracts from herbal plants with insecticidal properties, EM products, compost teas and biological control agents for plant protection. The conversion to natuurboerdery resulted in changes and benefits which were described and classified under: strategic and technical, economic, social and ecological and environmental. The main findings were that soil health has improved, soil organic carbon levels have increased, the use of inorganic products for plant nutrition and protection has decreased with significant cost savings, yields have risen, water availability has increased and energy spending has been reduced. The conclusions drawn from the research findings indicate that natuurboerdery is neither organic nor conventional farming which indicates that inorganic and organic inputs are compatible in sustainable farming systems. The natuurboerdery farming approach is a potentially sustainable farming system which works with nature. Areas for further scholarship, research and recommendations have been identified to improve the sustainability of natuurboerdery.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Die doel van hierdie tesis was om die eerste in-diepte beskrywing van natuurboerdery saam te stel soos dit deur ZZ2 ontwikkel en gebruik is. ZZ2 is ‘n Suid Afrikaanse boerdery konglomoraat in privaatbesit. Natuurboerdery beoog om boerdery produktiwiteit en volhoubaarheid te verhoog, terwyl dit die integriteit van die natuuur in stand hou om tot algehele volhoubaarheid by te dra. ‘n Gevallestudie is as navosingsontwerp gebruik en verskeie bronne en metodes is toegepas om inligting in te samel. Die proses en redes vir die oorskakeling van konvensionele boerdery na natuurboerdery is ondersoek, terwyl die beginsels en praktyke van natuurboerdery beskryf is en die veranderings en voordele van die oorskakeling gedokumenteer is. Dit is vasgestel dat ZZ2 na natuurboerdery omgeskakel het as gevolg van uitdagings wat met konvensionele boerderymetodes gesassosieer word. Die hoof-uitdagings wat ZZ2 ondervind het was terugkerende peste en siektes wat moeilik beheerbaar was met onorganiese plaagdoders, groot afnames van oeste en onvolhoubare produksie uitkomste of winste om die produksiekostes te dra. Stygende pryse van onorganiese plaagdoders en kunsmis was die grootste oorsaak van hoë produksiekostes. ZZ2 het ook bewus geraak van die groeinde klante-aanvraag vir gesonde kos wat op eties-aanvaarbare metodes geproduseer is en skade aan die natuurlike omgewing verminder. ‘n Konsepsuele raamwerk is ontwikkel om natuurboerdery as ‘n boerdery-sisteem te beskryf en is gebasseer om vyf beginsels of gesondheidsaspekte: agroekosisteemgesondheid, grondgesondheid, plantgesondheid, voedselgesondheid en menslike gesondheid. Al hierdie praktyke wat deur ZZ2 ontwikkel en gebruik is word in hierdie tesis beskryf en geklassifisseer in terme van die konsepsuele raamwerk. Natuurbeordery integreer die gebruik van onorganiese kunsmis en organiese grondwysigings vir grondgesondheid en plantvoeding. Geïntegreerde praktyke sluit in: onorganieise plaagdoders, gefermenteerde kruieplant-ekstrakte met insek-bestrydende einskappe, EM produkte, kompos-tees en biologiese beheeragente vir plantbeskerming. Die oorskakeling na natuurboerdery het sekere veranderings en voordele gehad. Dit word geklassifiseer volgens die betrekking wat dit het op die strategiese en tegniese, ekonomiese, maatskaplike en ekologiese en omgewings-aspekte van ZZ2. Die hoofbevindings was verbeterde grondgesondheid, verhoogde organiese koolstofvlakke in die grond, laer gebruik van onorganiese produkte vir plantvoeding en beskerming met noemenswaardige koste-besparings, verhoodge oeste en waterbeskikbaarheid, en kleiner spandering op energie. Die navorsingsbevindings wys daarop dat natuurboerdery nie organies of konvensionele boerdery is nie en dat onorganiese en organiese insette dus verenigbaar is in volhoubare boerdery-sisteme. Die natuurboerdery uitkyk is ‘n potensiële volhoubare boerderysisteem wat in staat is om saam die natuur te werk. Areas vir verdere studie, navorsing en voorstelle is geïdentifiseer om die volhoubaarheid van natuurboerdery te verbeter.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/6694
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