The development and use of a blended, organically based fertiliser on sugar cane in the KwaZulu-Natal Midlands

Tweedale, Darryl Neil (1999-12)

Thesis (M.Agric.Admin.) -- University of Stellenbosch, 1999.

Thesis

ENGLISH SUMMARY: The main objective of this study was to investigate the potential production of a blended, organically based fertiliser for use on sugar cane in the KwaZulu-Natal Midlands. There has been a major increase in the application of unprocessed organic materials of various types within the region over the last three years. This has been ascribed largely to the soil conditioning properties of these materials and the benefits of their use which have been noted by farmers. However, it has emerged at the beginning of the study that very little literature or evidence of a concrete nature exists with regards to these benefits. Due to a lack of existing literature with regards to the benefits of using manures as soil conditioners, the vast majority of the information collected was of a primary nature. Use was made of questionnaires, as well as personal and telephonic interviews for data collection. These methods of data collection resulted in information of a largely subjective and descriptive nature, traits which are evident in the presentation style of this information. When considering the development of such a product, the following role-players were identified and included in the study: soil experts, sugar cane farmers, competitors within the organics industry, suppliers of raw materials (manure) and people involved in fertiliser processing operations. Information and opinions were obtained from these various sources and used to reach certain conclusions and to make recommendations. While it was noted that no concrete definition exists for the term sustainable agriculture, it was determined that organic farming goes some way to promote sustainability. Thus, the use of organic material on soil is seen as beneficial to soil health and long term production - although only 43 percent of soil experts indicated the use of manures as a current promoter of sustainable production. Contrary to this scepticism, it emerged that the use of organic material in the Natal Midlands regions is on the increase, with chicken litter, feedlot manure and filter cake the most popular organic materials applied. The limited availability of material, especially chicken litter, was identified as the most influential limiting factor. Bearing this limitation in mind, a 30 dm3 bagged, granulated product with a chicken litter base emerged as the most preferred by the potential consumers. It was explained by processors that while taking necessary structural and mechanical changes into account, producing such a product would be possible, but that production-wise a pelletted product would be preferred. Sources of competition were identified at both input and output market levels, with the supply of raw materials as the major concern. It was further noted that in order to compete successfully, prices would have to be competitive, through correct formulation, and product benefits proven scientifically, especially with regard to soil conditioning characteristics.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Die hoofdoel van hierdie studie was om die moontlike produksie van 'n organiesgebaseerde kunsmismengsel vir die gebruik op suikerriet in die KwaZuluNatal binneland te ondersoek. Daar is 'n toename in die gebruik van onverwerkte organiese materiaal op suikerriet in hierdie gebied oor die afgelope drie jaar waargeneem. Die verskynsel kan toegeskryf word aan die grondverbeteringseienskappe en ander voordele wat die gebruik van organiese materiaal vir die boere inhou. Dit het egter aan die begin van die studie reeds geblyk dat min literatuur of harde bewyse bestaan met betrekking tot hierdie verwagte voordele. As gevolg van hierdie gebrek aan bewyse in die literatuur, is daar staat gemaak op prim ere data. Vraelyste sowel as persoonlike en telefoniese onderhoude is vir die insameling van die data gebruik. Die metode van insameling het gelei tot inligting van 'n grootliks subjektiewe en beskrywende aard, soos ook weerspieel word in die aanbiedingstyl van die data. Met betrekking tot die ontwikkeling van so 'n produk is die volgende rolspelers geidentifiseer en in die studie ingesluit: grondkundiges, suikerrietboere, kompeteerders binne die organiese bedryf, verskaffers van grondstowwe en persone betrokke by die vervaardiging van kunsmis. Inligting en opinies is uit hierdie bronne verkry en isgebruik om sekere gevolgtrekkings en aanbevelings te maak. Terwyl dit voorgekom het dat geen konkrete definisie vir die term "volhoubare landbou" bestaan nie, is daar gevind dat organiese landbou volhoubaarheid bevorder. Die gebruik van organiese materiaal op grond is dus as voordelig vir grondstruktuur en langtermyn produksie gesien, alhoewel net 43 persent van die grondkundiges aangetoon het dat die huidige gebruik van misstowwe volhoubare produksie bevorder. In teenstelling met die skeptisisme, het dit geblyk dat die gebruik van organiese materiaal in die Natalse binneland aan die toeneem is, met hoendermis, kraalmis en filterkoek as die gewildste mistowwe. Die beperkte beskikbaarheid van mistowwe, veral hoendermis, is as die grootste beperkende faktor gerdentifiseer. Met hierdie beperking in gedagte, het 'n verkorrelde, hoendermisgebaseerde produk wat in 30 dm3 sakke verpak is, as die gewenste produk by potensiele verbruikers geblyk te wees. Kunsmisvervaardigers was van mening dat so 'n produk, met inagneming van strukturele en meganiese veranderinge, wel geproduseer kan word, maar dat 'n langwerpige, verpilde produk by produksie verkies sou word. Bronne van mededinging is geidentifiseer by beide die inset- en uitsetkant van die mark, met die aanbod van grondstowwe as 'n kernvraagstuk. Dit het verder aan die lig gekom dat om suksesvol te kompeteer, pryse mededingend moet wees. Dit kan slegs bereik word met die korrekte formulering van die mengsel en met wetenskaplik bewese voordele van die grondverbeteringseienskappe van die produk.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/51457
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