3 November 2015 – Green Agriculture Event Report back
November 9, 2015  

Supplied by IAIAsa Administrator from IAIAsa
IAIASA WESTERN CAPE BRANCH EVENT SUMMARY
GREEN AGRICULTURE
3 November 2015, CSIR, Stellenbosch

The Western Cape Branch of the IAIAsa hosted a “Green Agriculture” event at the CSIR in Stellenbosch on 3rd November 2015. The event was attended by 30 people.

Opening slides

The evening began with a presentation by Dr Ilse Trautmann, Chief Director of Research and Technology Development Services at the Western Cape Department of Agriculture, who gave an overview of the “SmartAgri” project that is currently underway. The project is a collaborative effort between the Western Cape Departments of Agriculture and the Department of Environmental Affairs & Development Planning, to develop a climate change response framework and implementation plan for the Western Cape agricultural sector. The agricultural industry is the backbone of the rural economy in the Western Cape, and accounts for 55% of national agricultural export. Predicted changes in the region’s climate over the coming years have the potential to significantly disrupt agricultural activities, with far reaching impacts to the local & national economy. The SmartAgri project is focussed on identifying strategic, innovative and practical ways to “climate proof” the agricultural and agri-processing industries in the province.

Presentation Smart Agri IAIA 3 November 2015

Following Dr Trautmann, Inge Kuschke of GreenCape provided attendees with an overview of the “GreenAgri” website, which was formally launched to the public in August 2015. The GreenAgri website is a one-stop portal that provides farmers, researchers, NGOs, private entities and consultants with relevant and reliable information on sustainable “smart” agricultural practises, initiatives and research. Inge gave attendees a quick tour of some of the features and impressive resources available on the site. The GreenAgri Portal is a valuable resource for the IAIA community and provides a useful platform within which to engage with the Green Agriculture Industry. We look forward to sharing more with our members in upcoming e-briefs.

IAIA Green Agri

After a refreshment break and networking session, Dr Johann Strauss – a passionate scientist working in sustainable cropping systems and conservation agriculture at the Western Cape Department of Agriculture – spoke about his research into conservation agriculture, and how current and future practises can contribute to climate resilience and the green economy. After introducing those present to the principles of conservation agriculture, Dr Strauss shared the results of several trials into different crop rotation systems in dryland pastures in the Western Cape. To say that the results are impressive and heartening would be a complete understatement, so we’ll let the figures speak for themselves: a 40% increase in wheat yield for a no-till crop rotation system (including a live-stock pasture rotation) compared to a standard wheat monoculture! Through his talk and the case studies he presented, Dr Strauss highlighted the importance of healthy soils in building climate resilience. The take home messages: Soil is not dirt and by practising “conservation agriculture” farmers can make their crops more resilient to climate change impacts, specifically droughts and increased temperatures.

IAIAsa talk 3 Nov Strauss

Tony Budden of Hemporium closed out the evening’s proceedings with a light hearted but informative and interactive talk on the Hemp industry in South Africa, including the legislative challenges facing the industry (and possible solutions), the agricultural trials currently underway and the potential to utilize Hemp as a cover crop in Western Cape dryland systems. The opportunity to create an entirely new value chain in the agricultural sector – from hemp seed production and cultivation through to processing for the food, textile, construction and medicinal sectors – was also highlighted. Attendees got the opportunity to get up and close with a variety of Hemp products from building materials such as “hempcrete” brick, “fibregrass” and hemp chipboard, to fabrics, twines, oils and plastics.

The breadth of questions and enthusiastic debate that followed each speaker saw the event running longer than expected, but all attendees left with some new knowledge and a better understanding of the developments being made in the WC agricultural sector. The evening also provided an opportunity for IAIAsa members to meet and interact with persons outside of the traditional environmental management sector, and thus broaden their professional network.

Smart Agriculture Presentation

Smart Agriculture Presentation

Conservation Agriculture Presentation

Conservation Agriculture Presentation

Talking Green Agriculture

Talking Green Agriculture

Tony Budden – Hemporium

Hemporium

Smart Agriculture Presentation

Smart Agriculture Presentation