An analysis of the financial implications of different tillage systems within different crop rotations in the Swartland area of the Western Cape, South Africa

Knott, Stuart Charles (2015-04)

Thesis (MScAgric)--Stellenbosch University, 2015.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: The pressure on the world’s natural resources is increased by an expanding global population. The majority of the growth is expected to take place in Africa and Asia. This creates the need for sustainable agricultural practices. To sustain food security, the limited natural resources must be utilised efficiently to optimise agricultural productivity. Conservation agriculture (CA) is one of the most holistic sustainable agricultural practices yet. It reduces environmental degradation, and concurrently it could enhance farm profitability. The practice of CA is able to improve food security while sustaining the environment for the benefit of future generations of both consumers and producers. A large proportion of the commercial grain producers in the Western Cape have adopted CA to varying degrees. A purer form of CA practice is continually pursued to realise its full benefits. Adoption has taken place in the absence of any policy support framework directed to CA, and thus, has been market driven. The reasons for and rates of CA adoption in other regions of the world differed, but was mostly successful, which highlights the driving forces behind adoption of CA in the Middle Swartland. The physical/biological benefits of CA are well known. The financial implications of the various systems within CA, at farm-level are still unknown. This study implements trial data from Langgewens experimental farm to evaluate the financial implications of various farming systems over an extended period. Farm systems are complex, consisting of numerous interrelated components. A whole-farm budget model is developed within a systems approach to compare various farming systems designed within CA principles. A trustworthy whole-farm model providing an accurate representation of a real life farm requires insight across many scientific disciplines. Multidisciplinary group discussions are used to bridge the gap between scientific knowledge. To serve as a basis for comparison, the whole-farm model was based on a typical farm within the Middle Swartland relative homogeneous farming area. Trial data on crop rotations and tillage systems from Langgewens experimental farm served as starting point for the research. The data was fitted for use in financial analysis and as input to the typical farm model. A key role of the inter-disciplinary expert group was to ensure that data and the model design accurately reflect the underlying physical/biological processes of CA. The financial evaluation of the various farming systems showed that conventional agricultural practices of monoculture and deep tillage are financially unsustainable. Farming systems under conventional tillage returned negative net present values (NPV) and an internal rate of return on capital investment (IRR) lower than the real interest rate. This implies that investment in conventional tillage will ultimately lead to financial losses. The financial benefits of CA are directly related to improved soil health, lower weed and pest stress and improved yields. The CA farming systems were less susceptible to variations in external factors, highlighting the resilience of the system that incorporates crop rotation and no-till. The farming systems operated under conventional practices are expected to be unsustainable over a long-term period of 20 years.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Opsomming Die druk op die aarde se natuurlike hulpbronne word verhoog deur ʼn groeiende wêreld populasie. Die meeste van die groei word verwag in Afrika en Asië. Dit skep die nodigheid vir volhoubare landboupraktyke. Om voedselsekerheid te volhou moet die beperkte natuurlike hulpbronne doeltreffend benut word om landbouproduksie te optimeer. Bewaringslandbou is die mees holistiese volhoubare landboupraktyk tot op hede. Dit verminder omgewingsdegradasie terwyl boerderywinsgewendheid kan verbeter. Die praktyk van bewaringslandbou is in staat om voedselsekuriteit te verbeter terwyl die omgewing onderhou word tot voordeel van toekomstige generasies van beide produsente en verbruikers. ʼn Groot gedeelte van kommersiële graanprodusente in die Wes-Kaap het bewaringslandbou teen verskillende intensiteit aangeneem. ʼn Suiwer vorm van bewaringslandbou word deurlopend nagejaag om die volle voordeel daarvan te benut. Die aanneming van bewaringsboerdery het sonder regeringsbeleid plaasgevind en was dus markgedrewe. Bewaringsboerdery is in ander wêrelddele vir verskillende redes aangeneem, maar was meestal suksesvol. Dit beklemtoon die beweegrede vir die aanneming van bewaringslandbou in die Middel Swartland. Die fisies/biologiese voordele van bewaringslandbou is wel bekend. Die finansiële implikasies van verskillende stelsels binne bewaringslandbou op plaasvlak is nog nie bekend nie. Hierdie studie gebruik proefdata van Langgewensproefplaas om die finansiële implikasies van verskillende boerderystelsels oor die langtermyn te evalueer. Boerderystelsels is kompleks en bestaan uit interafhanklike komponente. ʼn Geheelplaas begrotingsmodel is binne ʼn stelselsraamwerk ontwikkel om verskillende stelsels wat binne bewaringslandboubeginsels ontwerp is, te evalueer. ʼn Geloofwaardige geheelplaasmodel wat ʼn akkurate weerspieëling van realiteit verskaf benodig insig van verskeie wetenskaplike dissiplines. Multidissiplinêre groepbesprekings is gebruik om die gaping tussen die verskillende dissiplines te oorbrug. Die basis vir vergelyking wat gebruik is, is ʼn tipiese plaas in die relatief homogene boerderygebied van die Middel Swartland. Proefdata van verskillende gewasrotasie- en bewerkingstelsels is as die vertrekpunt vir die studie gebruik. Die data is pasgemaak vir finansiële ontledings en om te dien as inset vir die geheelplaasmodelle. ʼn Kern rol van die interdissiplinêre ekspert groep was om te verseker dat die data en die model-ontwerp die onderliggende beginsels van bewaringslandbou reflekteer. Die finansiële evaluasie van die verskillende boerderystelsels wys dat konvensionele landboupraktyke met monokultuur en diepbewerking nie finansieel volhoubaar is nie. Boerdery stelsels onder konvensionele bewerking genereer ʼn negatiewe netto huidige waarde en ʼn opbrengs op kapitaal investering wat laer as die inflasie vlak is. Dit beteken dat investering in konvensionele uiteindelik tot finansiële verlies kan lei. Die finansiële voordele van bewaringslandbou is direk geassosieer met verbeterde grondgesondheid, laer onkruid en plaag-druk en beter opbrengste. Die bewaringslandbou boerderystelsels is ook minder blootgestel aan veranderinge in eksterne faktore wat die gehardheid van die stelsels wat gewas-wisselbou en geenbewerking inkorporeer, beklemtoon. Die boerderystelsel onder konvensionele praktyke sal na verwagting nie volhoubaar wees oor ʼn langer periode van 20 jaar nie.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/96855
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