Bergville Annual Progress Report 2016

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MDFGrai nSASFIPBergvilleAnnualReport2015-2016| 1
APPENDIX 2: BERGVILLEANNUALREPORT
Conservation AgricultureFarmerInnovation
Programme(CAFIP)forsmallholders, Grain SA
July 2015 to September2016
Farmer Centred Innovation in Conservation Agriculture in upper
catchment areas of the Drakensberg, KwaZulu-Natal
Compiled by:
Erna Kruger
August 2016
MDFGrainSASFIPBergvilleAnnualReport2015-2016| 2
Project implemented by:
Mahlathini Development Foundation
Promoting collaborative, pro-poor agricultural innovation.
Contact:Erna Kruger (Founder and Coordinator)
Address: 72 Tatham Road, Prestbury, Pietermaritzburg, 3201, KZN
Email:erna@mahlathiniorganics.co.za, info@mahlathini.org
Cell: 0828732289
Time of operation: 2003-2016
Legal status: NPC
BEE status: 4. Certificate available.
In collaboration with:
Funded by:
MDFGrainSASFIPBergvilleAnnualReport2015-2016| 3
Table of Contents
SUMMARY ..........................................................................................................................................................................................4
KEY ACTIVITIES .................................................................................................................................................................................6
Progress ..........................................................................................................................................................................................6
RESULTS ACHIEVED TO DATE ........................................................................................................................................................8
Summary of farmer participation and trials planted .........................................................................................................................8
Results for the 2015-2016 season ................................................................................................................................................10
Soil fertility results; fertilizer recommendations .............................................................................................................................14
Bergville - Soil health scores. ........................................................................................................................................................17
OBSERVATIONS FOR THE FARMER LED TRIALS ........................................................................................................................20
Cover Crops ..................................................................................................................................................................................20
Case studies .................................................................................................................................................................................22
Mrs Phumelele Hlongwane; Ezibomvini ....................................................................................................................................22
Mr Dlezakhe Hlongwane (Stulwane).........................................................................................................................................26
LEARNING GROUP OBSERVATIONS FOR EACH AREA...............................................................................................................27
STULWANE. .................................................................................................................................................................................28
EQELENI ......................................................................................................................................................................................30
EZIBOMVINI .................................................................................................................................................................................32
MHLWAZINI ..................................................................................................................................................................................34
NDUNWANA .................................................................................................................................................................................36
VIMBUKHALO ..............................................................................................................................................................................37
NGOBA .........................................................................................................................................................................................38
NKANDLA .....................................................................................................................................................................................39
Vulamhlamvu ............................................................................................................................................................................39
Mphotolo ...................................................................................................................................................................................39
SUMMARY OF FARMERS COMMENTS ..........................................................................................................................................39
Benefits of CA ...............................................................................................................................................................................39
Seed varieties ...............................................................................................................................................................................40
Inputs and input costs ...................................................................................................................................................................40
Labour...........................................................................................................................................................................................40
Storage and marketing ..................................................................................................................................................................41
Drought .........................................................................................................................................................................................41
Cover crops; grazing, fodder and livestock management .............................................................................................................41
Learning, new ideas, adaptation ...................................................................................................................................................42
INNOVATION PLATFORMS .............................................................................................................................................................42
Farmers days and stakeholder interactions ..................................................................................................................................46
..........................................................................................................................................................................................................48
MONITORING ...................................................................................................................................................................................49
Appendix 1: Table:Key activities, outputs and deliverable July 2015- September 2016; planned and actual. ........................51
Appendix 2: Soil health test results for 10 participants in Bergville, October 2015. ..................................................................52
MDFGrainSASFIPBergvilleAnnualReport2015-2016| 4
SUMMARY
The 3rd cropping season of the Grain SA SFIP in Bergville saw the continuation of the horizontal scaling process
for the awareness raising and implementation of CA in smallholder communities. Three new villages were
brought on board and along with expansion in the existing villages a total of 56 new farmer experimentation
participants were included.
This brings the total number of smallholder farmers who have undertaken CA experiments and implementation
to 143. A CA awareness raising process was also initiated in Nkandla, working with members of a KZNDAE
maize cooperative in Mpotholo, with 6 participants and in collaboration with the Siyazisiza Trust in
Vulamhlamvu, with a group of 22 women.
Strategies to accommodate for the pervasive drought included planting of drought tolerant summer cover
crops such as millet, sunhemp, cowpeas, sunflower and Dolichos and planting of late season beans. Participants
waited for rain to start planting their maize and as a consequence some did not plant at all (around 31% of
participants). Cattle invasions into the fields that were planted were extremely common this year as they were
not sent to mountain pastures due to a lack of grazing. Of those who planted around 74% managed to harvest.
This season a subsidy was introduced for the 2nd and 3rd year participants. They were expected to pay around
30% of the total costs of their trial inputs package costs. This amounted to R127 per participant for the 400m2
trial plots and R320 for the 1000m2 trial plots. 68% of the participants who were eligible for payment paid
their subsidies (48 participants). Some participants felt they could not afford to pay and withdrew their
participation and others did not want to take a chance due to the drought. Of those who paid, 88% planted their
trials (41 participants). In the review focus group discussions held for each village, participants voiced their
appreciation for this subsidy and their commitment to pay these subsidies in future seasons.
Yields for maize and beans have been about 56% of that obtained in the previous seasons. Although cowpeas
grew better than beans, yields have been even lower (35%) than before. Generally, (for around 85% of the
participants) yields for the CA plots have been consistently higher than the control plots, where the
participants have practised their ‘normal’ methods of farming. For the 2015-2016 season, despite the drought,
average maize yields for the CA plots have again been higher than the average yields for the control plots. This
is considered an indication of the increase in soil health for the participants over time as well as the increased
soil organic matter and water holding capacity under the CA cropping methods.
Soil health tests have indicated a higher availability of nutrients and microbial activity in the soil as compared
with veld benchmark samples. The veld sample indicates the natural ‘baseline’ of microbial activity and soil
fertility in uncultivated veld and generally would be expected to be higher than a sample from a cropping field.
These tests have also provided a clear indication for the need for both intercropping or mixed cropping (with a
grain and legume mixture) as well as planting of cover crop mixes. Intercropping, (with beans or cowpeas)
provides for much higher N availability for the crops, but does not provide for substantial build-up of the
organic matter and humus in the soil in the short term. This only starts to happen once multiple species cover
crops, a minimum of 3-5 (such as vetch, fodder oats and fodder radish) are included in the rotation as well.
For the purposes of deriving fertilizer recommendations, soil samples have been taken for 119 participants
from 10 villages across the Bergville area between 2013-2015. An analysis was done to check the accuracy of a
generic fertilizer recommendation for the area that has been calculated and used. It was found that the generic
recommendation of 40kg/ha P and 0kg/ha K holds true across the villages and the years. However, a higher
generic lime recommendation of 5t/ha as opposed to 1t/ha would need to be made. Overall it would make
more sense to make a generic recommendation on village level, that is benchmarked on a yearly basis.
The building of innovation platforms on strong and active local farmer groups has continued. Locally managed
savings and credit groups have been used for this purpose, saving specifically for their agricultural inputs, now
exist in Emmaus, Stulwane and Ezibomvini and are to be set up for this season in Ngoba, Vimbukhalo and
MDFGrainSASFIPBergvilleAnnualReport2015-2016| 5
Emangweni. Bulk buying groups have not yet taken off, given the tendency to work within specific and different
projects. Participants are getting used to the idea of paying a subsidised amount for their trial inputs. During
this first season only 62% of those eligible paid their subsidies. This was partly due to the drought, partly due
to paying also for other maize production projects where they had already contributed R1000 each and partly
due to lack of finances. During the yearly review processes participants indicated their appreciation for this
subsidy and also their willingness to continue with these in the future.
Individual interviews have shown a marked contribution to livelihood improvement and food security
contributed from the harvests of the CA trial plots. The contribution of both maize and beans in the diet as well
as fodder for livestock has made a marked difference in participants’ ability for food provisioning for their
families. Support has also been provided to neighbours in need due to the drought.
Groups are ready to engage in micro enterprise activities around milling and supplying of input packs and tools.
In each village the group made a decision as to whether this would be a group or individual process.
The open days and farmers’ days attended and hosted, provided substantial sharing and learning for the
learning group members and further promoted awareness in the broader community. In each village more
participants have been brought on board and another 5 new areas are to be included in the CA trial process in
the coming season. Stakeholders from the Government and NGO sectors have been engaged and further
collaboration with LandCare, KZNDAE, specific LM’s, and the NGOs – Siyazisiza Trust, ACAT, The Institute of
Natural Resources (INR), Lima Rural Development Foundation and the Farmer Support Group is envisaged in
the coming seasons.
Monitoring processes have again included the in-depth monitoring of each CA trial using the CA indicators and
scores and the VSA (Visual Soil Assessment) monitoring process. A decision has been taken to base the
subsidies/incentive scheme on a different framework as these indicators are sensitive to weather conditions.
This skews the scores and outcomes and does not fully take into account the individual effort and social
organisation that is also crucial to this process. A new framework will be designed going into the future. These
indicators are however still very useful for monitoring purposes and will continue to be used for individual trial
monitoring purposes.
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KEY ACTIVITIES
The table in Appendix 1 outlines the key activities and deliverables planned for and implemented, with
associated budgets, during the period of July 2015-September 2016.
Progress
The provincial wide drought has seriously hampered planting and production in trial plots. Many farmers have
not planted maize (in their control plots) as a consequence, but the trials have continued. To accommodate for
the dry conditions a summer cover crop mix of drought tolerant crops has been introduced (millet, sunnhemp,
sunflower, Dolichos, cowpeas) into a crop rotation experiment to test the survival of these compared to the
maize and beans planted by most smallholders.
The table below outlines activities related to objectives and key indicators for the period of July 2015 -
September 2016).
Table1:Summary of progressJuly 2015to September2016 related to objectives and key activities
Objectives
Key activities
Summary of progress
% completion and comment
1. Document
lessons learned
Documentation
for learning and
awareness
raising
- Finalisation of CA manual,
English version. 2 small print
runs (100)
- Translation of all 4 chapters into
isiZulu. 1 print run (200)
- Soil Symposium presentation in
Stellenbosch
- CA chapter in CABI book
- Presentation at No till open day
in Hilton
Presentation at kwaNalu and
KZNDAE farmers days
-Paper for LandCare conference
-100%. Further printing and
distribution
-90%. Finalise translation and print
-90%. Further information sharing
options through collaboration with
PID process (Kit- Netherlands),
Lima RDF- CA demonstrations at
farmers’ days, articles and
conferences
Exploration of
PES mode
- PES chapter for CA manual
draft1
- Exploration of funding options
- Farmer level monitoring forms
produced, translated and
facilitated at farmer level
-95%. Continuation of framework
design
-100%. Ongoing- proposals to
USAID and WRC
-50%. Ongoing- still needs more
fine tuning
Final report
Consolidation of experimental
outcomes and planning for 1st, 2nd
and 3rd level experiments for
future interventions, including
the design of a PES model for
implementation
-100%, support from interns,
including soil fertility results, soil
biological indicators, and socio
economic indicators.
2. Increase the
sustainability
and efficiency of
CA systems and
3: To Use the CA
systems in Bgvl
to produce and
scale out
sustainable
farming system
Farmer-centred
Innovation
Systems Research
: 1st level
experimentation:
Trying out the
basic CA system
47 farmers across 7 areas use
their own practise as a control
size: 400m² experiment, 400m²
control
100%. 56 farmers across 8
villages. Basic CA design-
intercropping with maize beans
and cowpeas on a 400m2 plot, with
a control plot managed entirely by
the participant.
Adaptation trials included
introducing crop rotation that
includes winter and summer cover
crops.
MDFGrainSASFIPBergvilleAnnualReport2015-2016| 7
scenarios that
include
livelihood and
environmental
criteria of
assessment
Farmer-centred
Innovation
Systems
Research: 2nd
level
experimentation:
existing CA
farmers focus on
experiments that
include
advanced CA
options
- 50 farmers across 6 villages use
their own practise as a control
size 400m² exp, 1000m² control).
Payment of 33% towards inputs
by farmers themselves
100%.71 farmers across 5 villages
Basic CA design- intercropping
with maize beans and cowpeas on a
400m2 plot, with a control plot
managed entirely by the
participant.
Adaptation trials included
introducing crop rotation that
includes winter and summer cover
crops.
Farmer-centred
Innovation
Systems
Research: 3nd
level
experimentation:
existing/
experienced CA
farmers focus on
experiments that
will cement their
practice into the
future and using
the CA process at
scale in their
fields.
25 farmers across 2 villages use
their own practise as a control
size 1000m² exp, 1000m²
control). - 3 villages, 5 farmers.
Payment of 33% towards inputs
by farmers themselves
100% 16 Farmers across 2 villages
Adaptation trials included
introducing crop rotation that
includes winter and summer cover
crops.
Incentive and
market based
mechanisms
Economic scenario development
and analysis that includes food
security and Ecosystem services
criteria- augmented by scientific
research to ascertain ecosystem
service components linked to CA.
60%; Ecosystems criteria being
developed, baseline livelihoods
research done. Still to continue
with food security research to
include more economic criteria and
garner academic support for PES
systems research
Further
development of
M&E system
- VSA used actively for all farmers
- M&E forms redesigned and used
100%. CA and VSA monitoring
scores for all participants
4: Strengthen
and use
different
innovation
platforms
Facilitation of
innovation
platforms
- Learning group meetings and
training workshops
- Farmers days
- Conferences and symposiums
-100%. Hosting 2 farmers’ days
including external stakeholders,
attendance of 3 farmer’s days
- 2 symposiums, 1 conference
CA working
group, and
reference group
-Attended and presented in Feb
and Sept 2016
100%
MDFGrainSASFIPBergvilleAnnualReport2015-2016| 8
RESULTS ACHIEVED TO DATE
This report builds on information provided in the 6 monthly report, which is not repeated here.
Summary of farmer participation and trials planted
The table below gives the final summaries for the number of farmer innovators who were active throughout the
season.
Table2:Summary of farmer innovation numbers and areas planted per villageinthisCA process;
Bergville2013-2016(3 years)
Exp
level
Village
Farmer
(2013-2015)
Comments; including planters used
1st,
2nd,
3rd
Stulwane
7, 12, 3
Group has worked well together. Savings and bulk
buying set up
Animal drawn planter used extensively, as were
MBLI planters and hand hoes
Cover crops and beans planted in 2015. Group less
coherent due to internal community conflict. 14
Farmers paid the subsidies
1st,
2nd,
3rd
Emmaus -
Eqeleni
9,8,7
Group worked well together. Savings groups and
bulk buying set up. Animal drawn planter used
extensively, as were MBLI planters and hand hoes.
7 Farmers only paid the subsidies
1st
Okhombe
10(2014)
Oxen drawn planter, hand hoes and MBLI planters
were used. Here, members of two youth groups
were included as participants. Planting was at a
homestead as well as field cropping level. No
activity in 2015. Erosion, infertile soils and theft
were constraints
1st,
2nd
Ezibomvini
10,11
Group has worked well and expanded considerably.
Hand planters and hand hoes only. People there
have not used animal drawn planters before. Local
facilitators both very motivated and supportive of
farmers. Cover crops planted. 8 Farmers paid the
subsidies
1st le 1 1st
Magangangozi
10 (2014)
2 people used the oxen drawn planter. Also plots
done with hand hoes and MBLI planters. Local
facilitator attended Farming for the Future training
course in CA. Group inactive in 2015. Constraints
included drought and absence of a facilitator
1st
Mhlwazini
6,13
Oxen drawn planter was brought from Eqeleni to be
used (2014))- Most of the 9 participants used this
planter. Participants bought their own seed. In
2015 participants started the process more
formally and more joined. All plots were hand tilled
with hoes. All paid subsidies
1st
Vimbukhalo
9,4
Planted with hand hoes seed and fertilizer bought
by individuals in 2014. In 2015 only 3 farmers
planted due to drought. Subsidies were not paid.
1st
Emoyeni
5 (2014)
Planted using hand hoes. Follow up on weeding was
not done on time. DISCONTINUED
2nd,3rd
Potshini
1, 1
One farmer working with Madondo in planting
beans and cover crops in 2015.
MDFGrainSASFIPBergvilleAnnualReport2015-2016| 9
1st
Emangweni
6 (2015)
An expansion area in Loskop, started in 2015,
Women work on fields close to the river. Planted
using hand hoes, Intercropping trials. Issues with
drought and weeds.
1st
Ndunwane
15(92015)
Expansion area from Mhlwazini, started in 2015. All
used hand hoes and did 1st year intercropping
trials.
1st
Ngoba
6 (2015)
Expansion area with DoA. 6 Women planted
intercropping trials but switched to cover crops
due to drought and lack of germination.
12 (2013=3,
2014 =7,
2015 =3)
143 (2013 =16, 2014 =71, 2015
=56)
1st
Nkandla
12
One group of 6 larger scale smallholder in Mpotolo
who use the animal drawn planter as a tractor
drawn implement to plant in partnership with PID
and a community garden group in Vulmahlamvu
linked to the Siyazisiza Trust.
Due to the drought a number of farmers opted not to plant or did not continue after their first attempt at
planting was thwarted. In addition, a number of farmers withdrew due to not being able to or willing to pay the
newly introduced subsidy costs for the trial inputs.
The table below summarises the figures for this season.
Table3:Summary of participant numberfor Bergvillefor 2015-2016
Category
No of
farmers
Percentage of total
Participant farmers registered for trials in 2015
156
Farmers with intention to plant for 2015 (for
whom inputs were ordered)
143
91% of those who registered
Participants who actually planted
99
69% of those for whom inputs were ordered
Participants eligible for subsidies (years 2,3)
77
Participants who paid subsidies
48
62% of those eligible
Participants who paid subsidies and planted
41
85% of those who paid
New participants for 2015
56
58% of those who planted.
Participants who managed to harvest
73
74% of those who planted managed to harvest
From the table it can be seen that a large number of participants were to be part of this CA process for this
season. Some did not engage in the process due to drought and subsidy payments, some bought the inputs, but
then did not plant due to the drought and some planted but did not have any yields. In the end, around 74% of
the participants who planted managed to harvest something, which is around 52% of the total group.
Table 5:Performance dashboard;August 2016
Outputs
Proposed (March 2015)
Actual (August 2016)
Number of villages active
13
11
No of 1st level farmer experiments
97
56
No of 2nd level farmer experiments
37
71
No of 3rd level experiments
28
16
No of local facilitators
5
4
MDFGrainSASFIPBergvilleAnnualReport2015-2016| 10
No of direct beneficiaries
166
99
Participatory monitoring and evaluation
process (farmer level)
Yes
Yes
CA manual (English and Zulu)
Yes
CA manual English yes
CA manual Zulu- yes
Nkandla was introduced as a new area and those participants have not been included in these tables.
Results for the 2015-2016 season
The province wide drought hampered planting and production in trial plots, but not as much as expected.
Farmers who took a chance and planted maize late in the season did receive reasonable harvests. Quite a
number of farmers however also had zero yields. The variability in growth and yields has been extremely high.
The introduction of more drought tolerant summer cover crop and winter cover crop mixes were well received.
These cover crops generally grew better than the maize and beans. Harvesting of seed has been hampered by
extreme grazing pressures from livestock let into the fields.
Figure 1: Average yields for the CA trials in Bergville villages 2015-2106 season
The average yields obtained for the CA trials in a number of villages in Bergville are shown in the figure below.
Yields for the CA trial plots are corrected for the area planted to maize in the intercropped plots (60% of the
area of the plot). The same is done for beans (40% of the area of the plot). LER’s (Land equivalent ratios) have
generally not been calculated, as very few participants have both intercropped and single block plantings of
their maize and beans.
The table indicates the increased yields of maize in the trials as compared to the control plots in the three areas
(Eqeleni, Ezibomvini and Emangweni) where control plots were planted. Beans were planted in all 7 villages
and some yields were obtained, albeit on the low side ranging from 0,57-1,23t/ha.
A summary table of all yields in Bergville for the seasons 2013-2015 is shown below
EmangweniEqeleniEzibomvini MhlwaziniNdunwanaStulwaneVimbukhalo
Beans0,81 0,77 0,57 0,76 0,76 0,65 1,23
Maize-trial2,49 4,07 2,84 1,64 3,370,74
Maize- Control3,06 4,46
Sunflower0,24
Millet0,09
Cowpeas0,60 0,19
0,00
0,50
1,00
1,50
2,00
2,50
3,00
3,50
4,00
4,50
5,00
t/ha
Bergville yields 2015-2106
MDFGrainSASFIPBergvilleAnnualReport2015-2016| 11
Figure 2: Average yields of trial and control plots in Bergville:2013-2015
Yield data is available for 95 participants across 7 villages. Generally yields between villages are quite variable,
but there are trends within the villages in terms of yields.
The following points can be made
1.Three years of yield data are available for Eqeleni and Stulwane:
a.Maize control plot yields are lower than trial yields in both areas for all three seasons
b.Maize trial yields increased from 2013-2104 in both areas, and then decreased a little again in
2015 due to drought conditions.
c.Bean yields in Eqeleni and Stulwane decreased by roughly 50% between 2014 and 2015
seasons.
2.Two years of yield data are available for Ezibomvini, Vimbukhalo and Mhlwazini
a.Maize control plot yields are lower than the trial yields for both seasons.
b.Maize trial yields for 2015 are lower than those for 2014 due to the drought conditions.
3.One year of yield data is available for Emangweni and Ndunwana, as these villages only came on board
in this last season. The maize yields for these villages have been surprisingly good, given the difficult
EmangweniEqeleniEzibomvini MhlwaziniNdunwanaStulwaneVimbukhalo
Maize-trial (2015)2,49 4,07 2,84 1,64 3,37 2,13 0,74
Maize- Control (2015)3,06 4,46
Beans (20150,81 0,77 0,57 0,76 0,76 0,55 1,23
Cowpeas (2015)0,60 0,19
Maize-trial (2014)5,32 6,07 2,723,74 1,60
Maize- Control (2014)4,91 1,932,25 1,68
Beans (2014)1,22 0,62 1,24
Cowpeas (2014)1,14
Maize trial(2013)3,55 2,33
Maize-Control (2013)2,46 1,75
0,00
1,00
2,00
3,00
4,00
5,00
6,00
7,00
t/ha
Bergville average yields for trials and controls; 2013-2015
MDFGrainSASFIPBergvilleAnnualReport2015-2016| 12
season and their first year of operation. Bean yields however have been low similar to other villages.
No control plots were planted in these villages.
A closer look at yields for one area, taking Stulwane as an example, shows the following
Crop yield (t/ha)
Stulwane 2013-2015
Bergville average 2015
(all participant villages)
Maize
3,4
2,5
Beans
1,1
0,79
Cowpeas
1,1
0,38
This summary indicates the lower average yields obtained in the 2015-2016 season when compared to a 3 year
average (which includes this dry season) for maize, beans and cowpeas.
A further example of maize yields for seasons 2013-2015 in Eqeleni is shown in the small table below.
Maize yields (t/ha) Eqeleni
2013/14
2014/15
2015/16
CA plots
3,26
5,32
4,12
Control plots
3,39
5,4
3,05
Overall average
3,28
4,86
4
Max yields CA plots
10,3
8,4
7,37
Max yields control plots
5,65
9,59
3,05
Overall, of the 20 participants for whom yield data have been obtained in Eqeleni for the last three seasons the
control yields for only 5 of these participants have been higher than their trials, meaning that 80 % of
participants have enjoyed higher yields in their CA plots when compared to their conventional tillage plots.
In summary, yields for CA trial plots have been on average slightly lower than for the control plots, in this
village. This last season, despite the drought conditions has been the first season where average yields for the
CA trial plots have been higher than the average yield of control plots. This is seen as an indication of the
increased soil health and water holding capacity built up through CA over time, improving the water use
efficiency of the system. This result is peculiar to Eqeleni and perhaps also to Ezibomvini. For most of the other
villages where farmers have participated, their control plot yields have been consistently lower than their trial
plots.
Control plots are plots where farmers use their ‘normal’ farming practices - in terms of tillage and fertility
amendments. For most of the participants this means ploughing their fields and addition of very low amounts
of fertilizer. There are the few who have taken on CA as their ’normal’ method and use this also in their control
plots. Eqeleni, Stulwane and Ezibomvini are the three villages where this has been the case: As the fertility
amendments and weeding practices here are different, these are still considered control plots. Yields in these
CA control” plots have been higher than those under conventional tillage. In future a better differentiation
between control and trial plots will need to be made to avoid a potential misrepresentation of the results.
The maximum yields for the CA trial plots have remained substantially higher than the maximum yield of the
control plots. This is borne out in the figure below which outlines control and trial plot yields for Eqeleni over
three seasons
MDFGrainSASFIPBergvilleAnnualReport2015-2016| 13
Figure 3: Maize yields for trial and control plots in Eqeleni for 2013-2015
10,33
1,21
4,02
2,68
1,15
5,56
1,72
1,61
2,68
1,15
3,84
8,42
6,10
3,06
9,57
1,91
4,69
5,12
4,97
1,53
4,50
0,77
0,81
3,06
12,50
12,92
1,45
2,87
7,50
4,02
3,61
7,65
2,05
1,34
1,72
7,50
8,13
3,05
7,01
7,37
0,97
3,33
5,07
3,33
4,59
1,27
0,00 2,00 4,00 6,00 8,0010,0012,0014,00
Control
Trial plot
Control
Trial plot
Control
Trial plot
Control
Trial plot
Trial plot
Trial plot
Control
Trial plot
Control
Trial plot
Control
Trial plot
Control
Trial plot
Control
Trial plot
Control
Trial plot
Trial plot
Trial plot
Trial plot
Control
Trial plot
Trial plot
Trial plot
Control
Trial plot
S
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B
Mvelase T Mabaso
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CHlo
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ane
K
Cebekhul
u
T
Ngubane N Ndlovu
Th
Mabaso
C
Zim
ba
FHlo
ngw
ane
N
Dla
mini
KHlongw
ane
B
Mbh
ele
S
Ziko
de S Dlamini
Comparison of control and trial plot yields for Eqeleni 2013-2015
Year 3Year 2Year 1
MDFGrainSASFIPBergvilleAnnualReport2015-2016| 14
Soil fertility results; fertilizer recommendations
Fertilizers are expensive and difficult to access for most smallholder farmers. Knowledge about different types
of fertilizers and even the standard nutrients provided through fertilization (N, P, K) is limited. As a
consequence, smallholders tend to use fertilizers that they have seen others use or what is recommended in the
shop, rather than what is required on their fields. In addition, they buy what they feel they can afford in terms
of quantity, rather than what may be required. This has meant that fertilizer application, has often not been as
effective as desired and potentially very inefficient.
In an attempt to deal with this, the practice of micro-dosing of fertilizer has been introduced, which implies
placement of small quantities of fertilizer close to the seed, rather than spreading or banding. This reduces the
overall amount of fertilizer required.
In addition, a yearly generic recommendation has been put together for each area (e.g. Bergville), meaning that
participants all use the same recommendation and fertilizers. This has helped farmers to be able to remember
which fertilizers they are using, which quantities are required and what the specific fertilizers are for.
An analysis was done to check whether these recommendations are in fact justifiable or not. In the Bergville
area 119 soil samples have been taken across 10 villages over the last three years. See the summary of samples
in the table below.
Table7:Summary of soil samples taken in Bergvillefrom 2013-2015.
Area
Village
Year
Total no. of
samples
No. of samples which required:
P(kg/ha)
K (kg/ha)
Lime(t/ha)
Emangweni
Emmaus
2015
2013
11
3
11
3
1
-
7
-
2014
13
13
-
8
Ezibombini
2014
9
9
-
3
Magangangosi
2014
10
10
2
8
Bergville
Mhlwazini
2015
14
13
-
9
Ndanwana
2015
14
14
1
12
Okhombe
2014
11
11
3
10
2015
6
6
1
5
Potshini
2013
3
3
1
2
Stulwane
2013
5
5
1
4
2014
14
14
4
12
Vimbukhalo
2015
7
7
1
5
From the above table it can be seen that P is the most deficient element in the soils as all samples have a P
requirement. Only 15 of the 119 samples require K and 85 of 119 samples require lime.
On the strength of a general analysis of average requirements form the samples the following generic fertilizer
recommendation has been used:
250kg/ha MAP (equivalent to 40kg/ha P), 150kg/ha LAN (equivalent to 60kg/ha N) and 1t/ha of lime.
K was not included in the generic recommendation.
A more detailed statistical analysis was done to see if these generic recommendations hold true. A category was
also developed for outliers- samples that fall far below or above the generic recommendation and where
fertilizer applications based on actual soil samples would be required.
MDFGrainSASFIPBergvilleAnnualReport2015-2016| 15
From this analysis the following points can be made:
For Phosphorous (P): The generic recommendation of 40kg/ha would mean that 89% of the samples would
receive the correct amount of P or an amount of P that could guarantee 80% of the potential harvest for maize
and dry bean production. The outlier samples have also been identified to ensure individual recommendations
for these participants.
Figure 4: Derivation of a generic fertilizer recommendation for P application for dry beans and maize in the
Bergville area
For Potassium (K); In the Bergville area, 88% of the samples have a K requirement of 0kg/ha, while the
remaining 12% of the samples have a K requirement of between 10kg/ha and 140kg/ha. See the figure below.
Following a generic recommendation of 0kg/ha, even for the samples with a K requirement between 10kg/ha
to 140kg/ha, provides for a relative yield of 94%, as long as N and P are provided in the required amounts.
Figure 5: Derivation of a generic fertilizer recommendation for K application for dry beans and maize in the
Bergville area
For lime; In the Bergville area, 29% of the samples have a lime requirement of 0t/ha, while 71% of the samples
have a lime requirement which lies between 1t/ha to 75 t/ha. When excluding the soil samples with a lime
requirement of 0t/ha, the mean lime requirement is 7 t/ha and the maximum lime requirement is 75 t/ha.
Since, over 60% of the samples have a lime requirement of between 0 t/ha and 7 t/ha, the generic fertilizer
recommendation for lime has been be set at 5 t/ha.According to the soil sample recommendation report from
Cedara, not applying lime when P and K recommendations are followed does not significantly affect the relative
yield for soils with a pH above 4.5. Specific lime recommendations need to be followed for those participants
with a soil pH lower than 4.5
MDFGrainSASFIPBergvilleAnnualReport2015-2016| 16
Figure 6: Derivation of a generic fertilizer recommendation for lime application for dry beans and maize in the
Bergville area
We then considered the question of whether there was variability in this generic recommendation across
villages in the same area. It is possible that soils vary between villages and that the general practices for soil
fertility enhancement also vary.
The table below shows the results of the generic fertilizer recommendation analysis for P across the 10 villages
in Bergville
Table8: GenericP requirements fordifferent villagesinBergville
Variation in the P requirement between the villages does not seem to be associated with spatial arrangements
or setting of the villages but is related more to the history of the land use within individual villages or
households. What this shows is that there is some variability across the villages, although the overall generic
recommendation would remain 40kg/ha.
A similar situation can be seen with the lime recommendations across villages in the Bergville area. See the
table below
MDFGrainSASFIPBergvilleAnnualReport2015-2016| 17
Table9:Derivation of lime genericrecommendation for Bergvillevillages
Area
Name of
village
% of
samples
with
lime of
0t/ha
Lime
min
(t/ha)
Lime
mean
(t/ha)
Lime
max
(t/ha)
% of
samples
with
lime
between
min and
mean
% of
samples
in the
outlier
zone
GR
(t/ha)
Excluding samples with
lime requirement of
0t/ha
Bergville
Emangweni
36
1
3
9
43
21
0
Emmaus
41
1
6
17
34
25
6
Ezibomvini
76
1
1
2
12
12
0
Magangangozi
20
1
5
15
50
30
0
Mhlwazini
25
1
5
12
61
14
5
Ndunwana
33
1
8
17
52
15
8
Okhombe
12
1
8
17
51
37
8
Potshini
50
1
8
15
17
33
8
Stulwane
18
2
11
75
53
29
11
Vimbukhalo
50
2
4
10
29
21
4
Here however there is a more distinct difference between villages, which most likely has to do with whether
there have been liming programmes in those areas in the past. It is suggested that a mean lime
recommendation should be calculated and used for each village, rather than using a generic recommendation
for the area.
We also considered the question of whether the same generic recommendation can be applied from year to
year. This was to check whether the samples of new participants starting in 2013, 2014 and 2015 respectively
could all fall within the same generic recommendation. This was checked as it is becoming evident more
generally that soil fertility analysis is sensitive to the time of year samples are taken and the environmental
conditions at that time. It means that a sample taken from the same field under the same cropping conditions in
different years could have different results.
Again there was some variability across years, specifically for the P and lime recommendations and in fact this
variability was higher than the variability across villages.
Overall it would still be possible to use the generic recommendations set for the area, although it may make
more sense to set the recommendations on a village level and to benchmark these recommendations on a
yearly basis.
Bergville - Soil health scores.
New laboratory based tools are available for assessing soil health. One of those tools derived in the USA, called
the Haney test, has now been introduced through a few laboratories in South Africa. The soil health tool is an
integrated approach to soil testing using chemical and biological soil test data, designed to mimic nature’s
approach to soil nutrient availability in the laboratory.
The soil analysis is performed using a soil microbial activity indicator (the Solvita Test), a soil water extract (for
the organic C:Organic N ratio), and H3A extract. This provides information on the inorganic and organic
fractions of nutrients available in the soil and their ratios and balances.
The Solvita test is presented in ppm and is the amount of CO2-C released in 24 hr from soil microbes after the
soil sample has been dried and rewetted (as occurs naturally in the field). This is a measure of the microbial
activity in the soil and is highly related to soil fertility - the higher the number, the more fertile the soil.
MDFGrainSASFIPBergvilleAnnualReport2015-2016| 18
Since soil microbes are highly adaptive (different for each soil type and environment) and acquire C, N, and P in
a ratio of 100: 10: 1 (C: N: P), it is safe to assume that soil microbes are a dependable indicator of soil health.
This consistent need sets the stage for a standardized, universal measurement of soil microbial activity. Since
soil microbes take in oxygen and release CO2, we can couple this mechanism to their activity.
WEOC: Water extractable organic carbon is the amount of C in ppm in the water extract and reflects the organic
C fuelling the microbes. % SOM -Soil organic matter provides an indication of the overall amount of organic
matter in the soil. Together with the WEON water extractable organic nitrogen, also used in the microbial
nutrient cycle these two fractions can provide the organic C: organic N ratio.
PMN is the potentially mineralizable N- fraction of the total N in the sample, which includes inorganic N.
A soil C: N ratio above 20:1 generally indicates that no net N and P mineralization will occur, meaning the N and
P are “tied up” within the microbial cell until the ratio drops below 20:1. As the ratio decreases the more N and
P are released to the soil solution which can be taken up by growing plants. A good organic C:N ratio is between
8:1 and 15:1. This C: N ratio is also used in calculating the soil health score.
The soil health score is calculated as 1-day CO2-C divided by the organic C: N ratio plus WEOC/100 +
WEON/10 to include a weighted contribution of water extractable organic C and organic N. It represents the
overall health of your soil system. It combines 5 independent measurements of the soil’s biological properties.
The calculation looks at the balance of soil C and N and their relationship to microbial activity. This soil health
calculation number can vary from 0 to more than 50. This number should increase over time. It indicates the
current soil health and what it needs to reach its highest sustainable state. Keeping track of this soil health
score will allow one to gauge the effects of management practices over the years.
Soil samples were taken from 10 participants in the Bergville area (5 each from Eqeleni and Stulwane). Veld
samples were also taken to act as the local soil health baselines or benchmarks. The table in Appendix 2
indicates the Soil health / Haney test results
The figure below indicates the results of the soil health test for Eqeleni.
Figure 7: Soil health test results for 5 participants from Eqeleni, Bergville. The figure compares their 2nd
year intercrop trial soils with a veld baseline sample.
From the summary of the soil health tests and the soil health scores provided above the following observations
can be made:
1.SOLVITA: The ranges of values for this test are as follows:
a.>100: High N - sufficient for crops. Biomass 2500ppm.Well supplied with organic matter
b.61-100: Mod-high N - limited N required. Adequate organic matter
c.31-60: Mod. Supplement with N. Requires application of stable organic matter
CO2-C
(ppmC)
Organic C:N
ratio
Total Org
C (ppm)Org N ppm Soil Health
Score
2nd year intercrop trial120,7 12,1 141,1 12,212,9
Veld baseline sample77,719,5 318,0 16,88,6
0,0
50,0
100,0
150,0
200,0
250,0
300,0
350,0
Soil health Test: Bergville (Eqeleni) N=5
MDFGrainSASFIPBergvilleAnnualReport2015-2016| 19
d.6-30: Low-Mod. Apply N. Biomass<500ppm. Supply organic matter
e.0-5: Significant fertilization needed. Very inactive soil. Biomass<100ppm
The SOLVITA tests here indicate that the CA intercropped plots provide for microbial activity and natural soil
fertility that is higher than the veld baseline samples. This is a clear indication that this practice fast tracks
increases in soil health and soil fertility. The veld samples are an indication of the natural soil fertility and
microbial activity in the soils in an area, in undisturbed soils and is expected to be higher than that for
disturbed soils and cropping fields.
2.The lower Organic C:N ratio for the CA trial plots means that the nutrients are mineralizable, thus
available for use in the cropping period. This cropping system provides for higher availability of
nutrients and microbial activity than the natural veld.
An analysis of the total N and the available organic and inorganic N fractions give an indication of build-up of
soil organic matter (SOM) in the soil. The available and unavailable N needs to be balanced in the cropping
system to ensure soil health and fertility improvement over time, rather than just replacing nutrients removed
in the cropping cycle. The figure below shows this analysis for different scenarios of crop mixes with ratios of
legumes to grasses ranging from 30/70 to 70/30., for 8 participants from Stulwane and Eqeleni, who practices
intercropping and planting of cover crops in their CA trials.
Figure 8: A comparison of N availability: released for use by plants and kept in the humus fractions
reserve for CA intercropping and intercropping with cover crops as compared to veld baseline samples.
This graph indicates that intercropping with legumes builds up the N reserve in the soil over time, while also
providing for greater microbial activity and soil fertility and clearly shows the importance of mixed cropping
and inclusion of leguminous crops in the cover crop mixes. The graph also indicates the need for both mixed
cropping and cover crops for providing for a high level of N availability for crops as well as building up the
reserve. Intercropping or mixed cropping alone does not provide for build-up of humus and organic matter in
the soil in the short term.
Soil health tests are to be included in the yearly analysis of results for a selected number of participants in the
future to track changes and improvements in soil health status for these individuals.
0
2
4
6
8
10
12
14
16
18
30/70
40/60
50/50
60/40
70/30
30/70
40/60
50/50
60/40
70/30
30/70
40/60
50/50
60/40
70/30
N released N reserveSoil Health Score
Bergville: N released and reserve for trials and veld baseline N=8
2nd year
intercrop trial
2nd yr
intercrop and
cover crops
Veld baseline
sample Bgvl
MDFGrainSASFIPBergvilleAnnualReport2015-2016| 20
OBSERVATIONS FOR THE FARMER LED TRIALS
Cover Crops
Mixes of summer and winter cover crops were planted in a number of the areas, where it was too dry to plant
maize.
The summer cover crop mix consisted of millet, sunnhemp and Dolichos/cowpeas and the winter mix of saia
oats, fodder rye, and fodder radish.
In some areas summer and winter cover crops were planted separately, but where planting was done around
February-March 2016 all five crops were mixed together.
Growth and performance of the cover crops varied greatly.
The table below outlines a summary of all participants in the Bergville area who planted cover crops, the mix
they used and the 5 germination and growth
Table 10: Cover cropplanting in theBergville areafor the2015-2016 season
Name
Area
Millet
Sunhemp
Fodder
rye
Radish
Sunflower
overall
growth
% Germination
Neliswa Msele
Stulwane
30
6
44
20
-
Fair
Thulani Dlamini
Stulwane
70
20
5
5
-
Fair
Khulekani Dladla
Stulwane
-
-
90
-
-
Good
Bongani Dlamini
Stulwane
73
<10
<6
<3
-
Mthuleni Dlamini
Stulwane
77
20
<5
<5
-
Good
Makhethi Dladla
Stulwane
80
<5
15
<5
-
Cuphile Buthelezi
Stulwane
50
36
10
5
-
Fair
Madolozana Gumbi
Stulwane
32
15
<25
40
-
Good
Phumelele Hlongwane
Ezibomvini
35
25
-
-
40
Good
Mthumeni Nkabinde
Ezibomvini
80
<5
-
-
<5
Good
Velephi Zimba
Ezibomvini
68
30
-
-
-
Good
Thobile Mthembu
Ngoba
40
30
<20
6
3
Fikile Bhengu
Ngoba
55
<10
<10
10
Sebenzile Hlongwane
Ngoba
60
10
<5
<2
25
Tombakhe Zikode
Eqeleni
16
-
-
30
Poor
Thulile Zikode
Eqeleni
Fair
NOTES:
1.Participants highlighted in light grey planted their cover crops in rows using the animal drawn planter, while the
one highlighted in dark grey planted the cover crops in between the maize rows using the broadcasting and
weeding method and the rest of the participants planted on a separate piece of land using the hand weeder.
2.In households where an animal drawn planter was used, the germination percentage seems to be low for the crops
with small seeds. The millet seems to be concentrated in certain rows of the plot and absent in others, while those
with larger seeds (e.g. dolichos) are found in almost every row in the plot. This shows that plate used on the
planter was selected based on the diameter of the largest seed in the mix. This caused seeds with a smaller
diameter to come out in larger quantities and were finished before covering the whole plot. Therefore, absence of
millet in other rows might not be associated with poor germination per se.
MDFGrainSASFIPBergvilleAnnualReport2015-2016| 21
3.The growth of the cover crops planted using the oxen drawn planter was poor compared to those planted using the
broadcasting and weeding method. This could be related to soil moisture deficiency which results from excessive
soil evaporation as a result of large spacing between the rows.
Left: Using the no till animal
drawn planterto plant cover
crops in Stulwane.
Far left: Using the hand weeder
to “plant” the cover crop seeds
after broad casting seed in
Stulwane.
Above left: Sibenzile Hlongwane from Ngoba intercropped her maize with a
relay planting of winter cover crops (saia oats, fodder rye and fodder
radish) that grew quite well and provided ground cover in this dry season.
Above centre: Mrs Zimba from Ezibomvini intercropped her maize plot with rows of summer cover crops. Here sun
hemp appears to have dominated the mix. Above Right: Nthombakhe Zikode from Eqeleni standing in her summer
cover crop plot. Millet and sunnhemp are flowering and cowpeas are visible in-between. CC’s are stunted and will
not produce seed.
.
MDFGrainSASFIPBergvilleAnnualReport2015-2016| 22
Far Right:Thulile Zikode
in Eqeleni planted the scc
mix (millet, sunnhemp
and cowpeas) using an
animal drawn planter. In
this case the spacing
between rows was round
90cm.
Right: Mrs Simephi
Hlatshwayo’s (Eqeleni)
single block planting of
Babala (finger millet)
grew very well and also
provided ample seed for
replanting.
Case studies
Mrs Phumelele Hlongwane; Ezibomvini
Phumelele Hlongwane who joined the Grain SA CA project in 2014, has experimented with a wide range of
practices in the 2015 2016 growing season. The practices experimented with at Phumelele’s site include:
Intercropping of maize with beans
Intercropping of maize with cowpea
Planting cover crops in between rows of maize
Intercropping maize with lablab
Planting a single crop of maize (control)
Planting a single crop of Lab-lab (Dolichos) beans and
Intercropping of maize with Lab-lab beans.
Mrs Hlongwane planted the Colorado, a yellow OPV maize variety in both the control and the CA trial plots. Due
to poor germination in some of the plots a PAN53 white maize hybrid was planted in the open spaces. The total
area of the trial plots is 1 000 m2 while the total area for the control plot is 600 m2. Both the trials and the
control were planted on the 19th of December 2015.
25kg of MAP fertilizer (40kg/ha P) was applied in both the control and the trial plots at planting. An inter- and
intra-row spacing of 50 cm × 50 cm was used for planting the maize. Two seeds were planted per basin. These
were thinned later to one plant per basin. Mrs Hlongwane top dressed her trial plots with 12,5kg of LAN around
8 weeks after planting.
The freely-drained red soil in Mrs Hlongwane’s plots has a good potential for crop production with minimal
traces of erosion in the plots (both control and trial). During monitoring done on the 4th of February 2016, there
was a 60 80% weed infestation on the trial and control plots. Chemical weed control was not used on either
the trial or the control plot. Weeding on the plot was done manually using hand hoe and a hand weeder.
Minor hail damage on the crops, particularly beans and cowpea was observed in the later stage of crop
development
MDFGrainSASFIPBergvilleAnnualReport2015-2016| 23
In early February of 2016, the winter and summer cover crops were planted in plot 3 and 7 respectively.
The trials and the control were laid out and shown in the figure below.
Figure: The layout for the trial and control plots at Phumelele Hlongwane’s (Ezimbovini Bergville)
Clockwise from left: Sun hemp in the cc plot
flowering. Michael Malinga standing in the maize field during tasselling. A view of the
bean and maize intercrop plot in the fore ground with the cover corps (millet and
sunnhemp) behind that. Mrs Hlongwane standing in her maize and lab-lab bean
intercrop plot towards the end of the season in May 2016.
(1)
M + B
(2)Sunhe
mp +
Millet +
Sunflower
(3)
M + WCC
+SCC
(4)
M + B
(5)
LL
(10)
M + B
(9)
M + CP
M
(8)
M + B
(7)
M+CP
(6)
M +LL
Control
Control
Legend
M Maize; B Beans; CP Cowpea; WCC winter cover crop, LL -
lablab
MDFGrainSASFIPBergvilleAnnualReport2015-2016| 24
Soil compaction and tilth
Soil compaction was monitored to
get an estimate of soil tilth and root
resistance with a very simple test
using a pen. When compaction was
measured a day after a rainfall
event, it was observed that the soil
was a softer (less resistance) in the
CA intercropping plots as compared
to the maize sole crop planting
(control).
Right: The depth to which a pen - or
any narrow short (20cm long) rod could be pushed into the ground in the intercropped (trial) plot vs Far right: the
depth to which the pen could be pushed into the soil in the single planting (control) plot.
The difference in soil compaction and therefore root resistance between the control and the CA trial plot could
be attributed to less runoff, higher infiltration and increased soil water content under the intercropping plot as
result of extra soil cover provided by the secondary crop and the crop residues, and an increase in root mass. It
is even possible that an increase in SOM has already been realised after a few years under CA, but further soil
analyses will have to verify this statement. Little soil compaction was also measured in Plot 5 (the lab-lab plot).
In summary, soils tend to be softer and wetter in the CA maize intercropping plot compared to the maize sole
crop (control). This could be associated with a number of different factors as mentioned above. Considering
that measurements were taken a day after a rainfall event, the soil compaction can be associated with below-
and above-ground biomass and their effect on soil water content. This very qualitative result is to be expected,
but it still warrants further analyses of the bigger set of project M&E indicator data to confirm similar trends.
Yields for the different experimental and control plots at Phumelele Hlongwane’s (Ezibomvini
Bergville)
The maize was harvested and weighed separately for each of the experimental and control plots. Bean and
cowpea harvests were very low due to the difficult season. The Lab-lab beans had also not yielded seed prior to
the commencement of grazing by cattle.
Table: Yield calculationsfor eachof the different plotsin MrsHhlongwane’s experiment.
The yields were calculated using the effective plot size for each crop, so about 60% of each of the intercropped
experimental plots and 100% for the single crop control plot.
The yield summaries, averages and Land Equivalent Ratio (LER) are presented in the table below.
Experiment
Number of
bags
Average weight
(kg) of bag
Avarage weight
of cob (kg)
Avarage weiht
of grain (kg)
Weight of Cob
+ grain (kg)
% Grain
(weight)
Grain
weight (kg)
Area (m2)Area (ha)
Weight
(t)
Yields
(t/ha)
control 16 35,730,060,220,280,79450,90575,000,06 0,45 7,84
Plot 102,426,70,060,200,260,7850,0160,000,010,058,33
Plot 92,526,70,060,200,260,7852,0960,000,010,058,68
Plot 8326,70,060,200,260,7862,5160,000,010,0610,42
Plot 7226,70,060,200,260,7841,6760,000,010,046,95
Plot 6126,70,060,200,260,7820,8460,000,010,023,47
Plot 42,526,70,060,200,260,7852,0960,000,010,058,68
Plot 3226,70,060,200,260,7841,6760,000,010,046,95
Plot 1226,70,060,200,260,7841,6760,000,010,046,95
MDFGrainSASFIPBergvilleAnnualReport2015-2016| 25
Experiment
Description
Area (m2)
Yields (t/ha)
LER
control
Maize sole crop
600
7,84
Trial Plot 10
Maize (with beans intercrop)
100
8,33
1,08
Plot 4
Maize (with beans intercrop)
100
8,68
Plot 8
Maize (with beans intercrop)
100
10,42
Plot 1
Maize (with beans intercrop)
100
6,95
Plot 7
Maize (with cowpea intercrop)
100
6,95
0,99
Plot 9
Maize (with cowpea intercrop)
100
8,68
Plot 6
Maize (with lablab intercrop)
100
3,47
0,44
Plot 3
Maize (with cover crops)
100
6,95
0,88
Ave maize yield under inter cropping (t/ha)
6,7
Ave maize yield sole crop
7,84
Ave LER 0,85
Table11: Yieldsummaries, averages and LER ratiofor MrsHlongwane’splots.
Generally, the cobs from the maize single crop (control) plot were bigger than those from the intercropping
plots. However, the weight proportion of grain to cob for both maize
from the control and the trial were fairly similar (78.8% grain 21.2%
cob for control and 78% grain and 22% cob for trial). The maize yields
from trials (intercropping plots) ranged from 3.5 t/ha to 10.4 t/ha with
an average of 6,7 t/ha while that of the control was 7.8 t/ha. The maize
yield from the control plot is slightly higher than the average maize
yield from the CA intercropping trial plots (6.7 ton/ha) resulting in an
LER (land equivalent ratio) of 0.85.
Above right: Maize cobs harvested from Mrs Hlongwane’s control plot
Below right: Maize cobs harvested from Mrs Hlongwane’s trial plots,
separated according to plot number.
Yields of beans
A total of 7 kg of beans was harvested from a total area of 120 m2 (Plot
10, 8, 4 and 1) area of land under intercropping. This indicates that
under intercropping systems, the bean yields are around 0.58 t/ha.
Yields of cowpea
A total of 2kg of cowpea seed was harvested from an 80 m2 area, under
the intercropping system, indicating a yield of around 0.25 t/ha of
cowpea.
Yields of cover crops
Mrs Hlongwane planted a mix of three cover crops (sunflower, millet and sun hemp in a single block (plot 2)
and as an intercrop with maize (plot 3). The winter cover crop mix planted also in plot 3 (radish, black oats and
fodder radish - did not germinate).
The harvested seed of sunflower, millet, and sun hemp weighed 2.53 kg, 1.2 kg and 1 kg respectively. This
translates into yields of sunflower, millet and sun hemp of 0.316 t/ha, 0.15 t/ha and 0.07 t/ha respectively. The
MDFGrainSASFIPBergvilleAnnualReport2015-2016| 26
lower yields of millet could be due to that fact that birds ate most of the millet before it was harvested. Bird
damage seems tobe a major cause of farmers not realising good yields in the fields.
Lablab
During the last visit at Phumelele’s fields the lablab had been uprooted from the field and waiting to dry before
the seed was harvested. Most of the seeds were still green but were harvested by Phumelele due to her fear
that livestock would eat her seed.
Soon after flowering Phumelele observed that the lablab seeds and the pod produces a considerable amount of
oil (see photo below). She asked if there were options for growing the lablab in a large field and extracting the
oil from the seed. This shows that during experimentation, there are some lessons that smallholder farmers
learn on their own and that knowledge could help them explore more options for improving their livelihood.
Far left: lablab seeds still attached to the vine and
Left: MDF facilitator checking the oil in lablab seed
with the farmer
Uses of cover crops
Lablab leaves have been used to feed her goats and
Phumelele realised that they also love the sunhemp
seed. Cowpea leaves are cooked as ‘imifino’ or
traditional greens and the seeds cooked like beans.
As the millet seed harvest was quite small these will
be kept for replanting. She would like to use the
millet in future to feed her chickens. Sunflower seed
is also a good poultry feed.
Mr Dlezakhe Hlongwane (Stulwane)
Mr Hlongwane planted the PAN 53 maize hybrid, PAN 148 beans and a millet, sun hemp, raddish, fodder rye
and sunflower mix of cover crops. This makes his trial interesting for evaluating crops performances under CA
compared to traditional planting methods under drought conditions. Mr Dlezakhe Hlongwane experimented
with the following:
Intercropping of maize and beans vs. maize single crop
Beans single crop under CA vs. beans single crop under traditional planting method
All the trial and control plots were planted on the 27th of January 2016, with the exception of the maize single
crop which was planted on the 30thof January 2016. Mr Hlongwane applied Round-up herbicide three days
prior to planting. The most dominant weed in his plots is blackjack. He also applied Decis Forte pesticide 3
times during and after flowering of the beans.
Both the trial and the control plots were planted using a CA oxen drawn planter. 20l of MAP fertilizer was
applied in both control and trial plots.
The yield data for the various plots are sown in the table below
Table:Yielddataformaize single crops vs. maize and beans intercropping in Mr Dlezakhe
Hlongwane’sfields (Stulwane), for the 2015-2106 season.
Area (m2)
Yields (kg/m2)
Yields (t/ha)
LER
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Trial
Control
Intercrop
Sole
crop
Intercrop
Sole
crop
Maize (intercrop vs. sole
crops)
540
900
8
2
0.15
0.02
7.5
Beans from
intercropping
360
29.971
0.83
Beans (CA vs. traditional
planting method
450
450
18.74
15.067
0.42
0.33
1.27
Looking at individual plots, there was a maize yield of 0.15 t/ha from the inter-cropped plot, while there was a
maize yield of 0.02 t/ha from a control plot (maize sole crop). This indicates a significant improvement in yield
in inter-cropping compared to mono-cropping. However, it should be taken into account that the intercropping
plot in Mr Hlongwane’s plot was planted using an oxen drawn No till planter, while the control was planted
using the traditional planting methods. Therefore, there improvement in yields could also be associated with
methods of planting. The LER for these maize plantings is 7.5, which is an extremely high value that should
continuously be verified.
The maize yields from both the control and the CA trial were low which could be attributed to late onset of
rainfall and late planting. There was a good germination of maize in both plots but the maize became water
stressed at the flowering stage. The yield of PAN 148 beans from the intercropping plot was 0.83 t/ha which is
significantly higher that of maize in the single cropped plot (0,42t/ha). This gives an LER for the beans of about
1.27 showing that 27% more land (or yield) would be needed to yield the same amounts as the yield from the
inter-crop; it again points towards significant synergistic effects between the crops in the intercropped plots.
The results also show that Mr Hlongwane obtained a yield of 0.42 t/ha of PAN 148 beans from the trial (CA
plot) compared to a 0.33 t/ha yield of PAN 148 beans obtained from the control plat (planted using traditional
planting methods). These results show that Mr Hlongwane has obtained a 0.09 t/ha higher yield of beans from
the CA plot compared to the control plot. The percentage germination from both the trial and control plots
were fairly similar, even though the plant population differed slightly.
In summary, under the drought conditions experienced in the 20152016 growing season, CA has shown much
higher resilience and produced better yields for both the maize and beans compared to traditional planting
methods and intercropping has shown a marked increase in yields compared to single block plantings.
LEARNING GROUP OBSERVATIONS FOR EACH AREA
Towards the end of the season a focus group review session was conducted with each of the learning groups.
Themes discussed included a review of their CA trials compared to the normal planting practices and an
assessment of the strengths and weaknesses of the approach. A discussion on inputs, supply, costs and a cost
benefit analysis of CA was done. Discussions regarding saving for inputs and bulk buying options were included
as were questions on joint actions in the learning group including joint storage, marketing and potential for
milling in the area. Cover crops were discussed including their potential for food and fodder production and
potential grazing management options in the community. See the Focus group discussion outline in Appendix 3.
In addition individual interviews were conducted for learning group members who agreed (See Appendix 4), to
glean more detail regarding specific practices for each farmer. In particular, food provisioning, sales and
incomes, and specific costs for each farmer was explored, as was other livelihoods information and specifics
regarding their farming practices.
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Interviews and focus group discussions were facilitated by the project team. The review also sets the stage for
the more detailed planning for the coming season and for starting to do entrance interviews, layout of plots, soil
samples and payment of subsidises.
STULWANE.
A summary of farmer participation during the 2013-2015 period is shown in the table below.
Year started
No of new
farmers
No of farmers active in 2015/16
2013
12
5
2014
7
6
2015
3
3
Cumulative no
22
14
A total of 22 farmers in Stulwane have participated in the CA trials from 2013 to 2015/16 season. Of this total 7
farmers have now practiced CA for 3 consecutive years, 9 for 2 years and 4 for one season. 2 Farmers have not
continued with the CA. For the latest season, 2015-2016. Some of the participant farmers did not plant due to
the adverse weather conditions, which is why the numbers in this paragraph differ from those in the table
above.
In this community initial success in implementation was somewhat hampered this year by drought and internal
strife. 14 of the 22 participants paid for inputs. They did not plant maize, but planted beans (end January 2016)
and a winter/summer cover crops mix (millet, fodder radish, black oats, fodder rye, sun hemp, cowpeas)
Cover crops are being accepted to a greater extent. Male farmers
prefer these as fodder for their livestock and the women prefer
to grow food. It is difficult for farmers to conceive of cutting and
storing fodder although a few have already started to do this.
Most of them let their animals graze in their fields, which is also
a preferred practiced if managed correctly.
Right above: Livestock graze freely and have caused a lot of
damage as they remained in the village due to lack of grazing
during the drought
Right below: the late season beans that were planted realised
reasonable yields and farmers have been very satisfied by this
People have observed that the CA has improved their yields and
reduced erosion. A few farmers are convinced that the
intercropping process works and they feel it increases their
maize yields and protects beans from heat and wind. It is
difficult to weed and harvest in these plots however. Some may
not use the intercropping in their control plots, even though
they have taken on the CA. 22% of participants for this
season feel that they will not continue with intercropping,
14% feel they will expand intercropping also into their
control plots and 64% feel that intercropping is good for maize production, but that beans should be
produced as single crops. Even though they see that weeding is reduced with intercropping, they feel that
MDFGrainSASFIPBergvilleAnnualReport2015-2016| 29
yields are also reduced, especially with beans and thus want to revert to single crop block planting, specifically
for beans.
With the animal drawn planting, the close spacing of rows becomes very complicated and about 70cm between
row spacing is the minimum that can be done. Most still use 1m row spacing with the animal drawn planters.
All participants who have been able to, have increased the sizes of their cropping plots and will expand again in
the future.
The savings group and bulk buying have assisted a lot in buying of inputs, despite poverty in the area, that has
been exacerbated by the drought. They prefer to work together in teams to reduce the workload and would
welcome a system of buying input packs and tools (either jointly or individually) within the community.
They do however not want to do storage jointly and feel that lockable storage drums for each household would
work well. There are individuals who would welcome starting a small business selling tools and inputs.
Generally, the communities find it difficult to trust individuals to provide this service for them. It is not easy to
choose a trustworthy person for the farmer centre; it appears that the women were more comfortable with
working with Makethi Dladla and some men more comfortable with Khulekani Dladla who took over in the 2nd
year. He assisted with spraying, but there was some unhappiness among the women participants that he did
not pass on their inputs to them as he should have. This process will need to be reviewed in the area.
COMMENTS FROM FARMERS
Bangeni Dlamini (49yr old woman):I have learned that it is
possible to plant/ grow crops without disturbing your soils and
get more yields from it. I think Conservation Agriculture can be a
solution to food insecurity and soil erosion. Intercropping helps
a lot in weed control. But with single plantings we get higher
yields for the beans than with the mixed planting and doing the
weeding is easier. The planters are good because they save
energy and time.
Thulani Dlamini (50year old man):It is the best way of
planting. I have learnt that it prevents soil erosion and
rehabilitates the soil. In addition, I can work alone as it does not
require that much labour, and my yields have improved. My
soil now has a darker colour which means it is more fertile and
it is also wetter. I have seen better germination of my crops in
the CA plots. It saves on costs and time and produced high
yields. Previously we would eat beans for about two months
after harvesting; now we eat beans for about six months. Yields
have increased by about 12%.
It has been very helpful working together in teams; we share
ideas and experiences, we help each other and it is fun to work
together.We have meetings to discuss issues together and try to resolve these problems
Dlezakhe Hongwane (50 year old man). I am keen to continue using CA and am already advising other
community members to use this method. Soil is protected by cover corps and residues and there is no erosion.
The production is increasing and the soil has no clods and hard structures anymore.
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With the cover crops (CCs) I cut and store this in bags to feed my cattle at times when fodder is scarce. This
helps a lot with keeping livestock alive and healthy in winter.
Because of the drought we have not sold maize or beans this year, but have managed to grow enough beans for
eating. Next year I would like to increase my fields to grow crops for sale.
Phasazile Sithebe (55 year old woman):I have been doing CA for 3 years now. The roots of plants go deeper
into the soil and there is much less wind damage on the crop in the intercropping plots. I have noticed that this
practice controls soil erosion.
Makhethi Dladla (47 year old woman): I have learnt how to apply fertilizers according to a given generic
recommendation, the importance of soil samples, the dangers of herbicides and the importance of covering the soil.
I used to experience a lot of soil erosion on my field with conventional agriculture caused by up and down
movement of tractors. Now that I use no-till I experience no erosion and my soils have recovered a lot, the
dongas are filled with soil now.
Cupile Buthelezi (43 year old woman): I use less fertilizer and put detail to everything that I do. The
intercropping has retained much more moisture compared to the single crops.Bean and maize residues have
increased the soil organic matter. Nutrients have also been replenished through minim tillage. We are more
concerned with our trials but we want to incorporate CA in our control plots as well. CA saves time, gives good
yields and is sustainable.
Nokwaliwa Hlongwane (62 year old woman): I would recommend this practice for other poor families to
also have food to eat every day. No till can be a solution to poverty in this community.
EQELENI
A summary of farmer participation during the 2013-2015 period is shown in the table below.
Year started
No of farmers
Years under CA
No of farmers active in 2015
2013
9
3
4
2014
8
2
2
2015
7
1
7
Cumulative no
24
13
Eqeleni is the ‘seed’ community for starting to work with Conservation Agriculture in the area. Here a group of
women in savings groups worked with Mr Madondo prior to starting this process. The ladies have been
extremely enthusiastic and committed to this process.
Right: Nomavila Ndaba (Eqeleni) built a storage
structure to be able to store her much improved yields
under the CA process
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Right: Thembelephi Ngubane (Eqeleni) (2015). She
practiced CA also on her control plot (0,86ha) which
she planted using a hand hoe. Her maize yield here
increased from 0,54t/ha in 2014 to 1,2t/ha in 2015
for traditional maize
They regularly save R100 per month per person in
their savings groups for production inputs. The
women have mostly planted by hand using MBLI
planters or hand hoes and have expanded their
plots considerably from their starting points. It is
however not easy to manage very large fields under
hand tillage.
This past season has been extremely difficult due to the low rainfall. Planting only commenced around the 6thof
December and due to lack of grazing, cattle were not sent into the higher mountain pastures. This meant that
the women struggled continually with cattle invasions into their fields. They would like to fence off their fields,
but cannot afford this. They are prepared to save towards fencing if some support can be provided. Participants
also feel that it would be very useful to have input packs available in the community for sale.
For these participants, conservation agriculture is important as it turns field cropping into a viable operation as
long as one has the strength and commitment to work. It cuts on costs as tractors do not have to be hired for
land preparation and planting which increases the chances of reducing production costs enough to have some
returns. Environmentally CA has positive effects on the soil as it maintains soil structure, reduced the chemicals
in the soil, reduces erosion, saves water and rehabilitates the soil.
Above left: Busisiwe Mvelase’s intercropped plots towards the end of the growing season, showing good growth.
Above middle. Tolwephi Mabaso, also a 3rd year participant has done very well with her crop despite the drought.
Above right: Some participants battled with high levels of weed infestation towards the end of the season when
there were some rains as can be seen in Khishiwe Cebekhulu’s plot.
CA also builds up organic matter in the soil to increase the water holding capacity which makes it easy for crops
to grow when there is drought as water is retained in the soil.
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The one drawback experienced is the weeding pressure and the need to weed 3-4 times per season. The
women understand well that this improved production considerably but feel the pressure of this increased
labour. They would like to experiment with more ways to reduce the need for weeding.
This year, with the introduction of the subsidy payment a number of participants shed away from planting.
They had already paid for the Grain SA farmer support programme and feared production risks in the drought.
Cover crops were planted this season for the first time and include sunflower, sun hemp and millet, but seeds
were not kept as the crops either did not seed or were grazed by livestock. They would like to try out single
cropping as they have difficulties with the intercropping system, mulching (grass) to cover the soil and also
planting of sweet potato.
COMMENTS FROM FARMERS
Simephi Hlatswhayo; (61 year old woman). I thought it
was hard at first, but now I think it is actually easier and a
useful way of growing crops for food. There is no more erosion,
the soil becomes more fertile, it is wetter and promotes better
germination of seeds and my yields have increased
dramatically. There is more food now and one can plant
without using tractors.
Busisiwe Mvelase (32 year old woman):This method is
affordable and provides higher yields. It is also less work. The
fertility in my soil has increased and so have my yields.
Erosion is controlled to an extent where a flood came and did
not damage the crops.Intercropping is great for production
and maize yields but it makes it difficult to hand weed and
yields for beans are low, single planting for beans is great and
yields are better
Tolwephi Mabaso: In the three years that I have been part of
CA I have not bought any maize. I now grow my own.
EZIBOMVINI
A summary of farmer participation during the 2013-2015 period is shown in the table below.
Year started
No of farmers
Years under CA
No of farmers active in 2015
2014
11
1
8
2015
8
1
8
Cumulative no
19
16
This group has been active for two years and this year saw very enthusiastic implementation. One of the
programme’s local farmers days was held in Ezibomvini to showcase their intercropping, crop rotation and
cover cropping trials. Reasonable growth and yields have been obtained despite the drought and extremely
difficult planting and growing conditions. A few farmers did particularly well, with Phumelele Hlongwane for
example realising an average yield of around 5,45t/ha of maize on her CA control and trial plots. Mrs
MDFGrainSASFIPBergvilleAnnualReport2015-2016| 33
Hlongwane is one of the individuals who now uses CA in her control plots as well. See the case study in the
above section for an outline of all her different trial plots and yields.
Initially her beans did not germinate but she continued to plant cover crops and other combinations. Below are
a few pictures of her experimental plots
Above left to right: Phumelele Hlongwane’s experimental plots of maize and cowpea intercropped, sun hemp,
millet and Dolichos all growing very well
Farmers planted later than usual to adapt to the drought conditions which prevailed. CA worked well under
these drought conditions as the farmers did get yields from their plots. Mrs Hlongwane pointed out that CA has
a positive effect on crops in terms of retaining moisture in the ground. She has witnessed a build-up in soil
organic matter which has increased fertility. There have been real changes drawing from the results she
witnessed in the previous seasons; her hybrid maize for example has done just as well as the GM maize she
planted in front of her house. Her soil is much softer in the intercrop and cover crop plots.
Better yields are obtained under CA practices and less weed competition has also been observed by most group
members.
Three farmers planted cover crops and they understand the significance of planting cover crops replenishing
nutrients in the soil. Sunflower, sun hemp and millet are among the cover crops that were grown and all these
grew well. Even though indigenous chickens and small stock fed on millet and sun hemp seed broadcasted on
field at planting, seed that survived this grew well. School going children in the area appreciated the aesthetic
value of sunflower and harvested most of the mature flowers. Cutting and storing of CC’s for winter is what
farmers would rather do as opposed to cutting and carrying to the kraals.
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Sunflower is the most preferred CC, as it can be fed to the chickens. Cowpeas and Dolichos are used for human
consumption, with Dolichos likened to ‘imifino’ or traditional greens. Cowpeas on the other hand are
appreciated due toits low fat content, but some dislike it because of its taste which farmers believe has traces
of soil granules. Most farmers have not kept their
seed while some reported that they still have cover
crop seed - Mama Phumelele Hlongwane has kept
5l sun hemp, 3l cowpeas and 5l of Dolichos; Baba
Nkabinde has kept only 1 cup of cowpeas seed,
while Mama Velephi Zimba also kept 5l of sun
hemp seed
Right: Mrs Zimba planted sun hemp as a relay crop
between her maize and also did strip planting of
single cover crops. Visible here are Dolichos and sun
hemp.
Group members consider CA to be much more
economically viable than conventional tillage
quoting as much as 60% saving on costs although it is likely to be less than that as farmers didn’t factor in
herbicide and CA equipment costs into their estimations.
Farmers have a savings group where each member contributes R100 - R300 on a monthly basis towards
sourcing of inputs, which they think is enough for what they will need for planting. The amount contributed is
determined by the costs of production inputs in the local market. Input subsidies do assist them because they
end up having money to buy other inputs such as the preservative pill which prevents stored maize from pests
and fungi and they are also able to cover other needs. Farmers believe some of them wouldn’t afford the inputs
at the market prices because it is too expensive.
Currently the farmers do not sell any of their harvested yields simply because they do not produce enough to be
able to do so. They have however sold some maize to desperate neighbours given the difficult season at
around R60/20l of maize grain.
A commercial mill in Bergville town is accessible to the farmers even though quality control rules of the mill
present a barrier for farmers to be able to use its services, as they do not accept maize grain which is mixed
(white and yellow maize grain) due to consumer preferences for white maize meal.
Farmers feel that it would be a good idea to have their own mill established in the area. They feel having a mill
belonging to the project is better because it will be making money for the SCG (the savings and credit group),
but the question of where it is to be installed is still there. They are aware that individually owning a mill is also
an option.
MHLWAZINI
This area started the CA experimentation process in 2014 with 5-6 participants albeit not as part of the formal
trials. This year however the group was very active, despite the drought conditions and 19 participants planted
maize, beans and cover crops. Of these 19, 15 participants managed to keep their crops growing under the
drought and grazing pressure and 12 of these 15 managed to produce a harvest.
MDFGrainSASFIPBergvilleAnnualReport2015-2016| 35
Rainfall variability in the Bergville area, at a local
level, was quite extreme. Mhlwazini for example
received enough rain to realise reasonable harvests,
while areas like Vimbukhalo (about 3km away) had
no rain whatsoever until the end of January 2016.
Intercrop plots of 400m2 were planted between 7-16
December 2015. Although germination was
somewhat patchy due to the dry conditions,
subsequent growth was good.
Right above: Thembi Mbhele’s maize and cowpea
intercropped plot in Mid January 2016. Germination is
somewhat patchy but very good considering the
season.
Right below: Mantombi Zimba’s plot in March 2016. Growth of
beans and maize has been good, despite initial patchy germination
Farmers are looking at CA as a viable alternative not only for
reducing costs but also replenishing nutrients in the soil and
maintaining soil structure. In terms of labor, CA is not hard to do,
especially if they work in groups. Planting and preparation are
easy but maintenance is more difficult. Generally, on their control
plots, farmers only weed once a season. After having seen the CA
impacts they go in to weed a number of times in the season.
Weeding intercropped plots presents a problem where bean crop
flowers are disturbed; it’s also hard to weed properly as
everything is planted so closely together.
Mhlwazini is the only area where all members paid for their
subsidized inputs. They are aware that input costs are most likely
to go up given changes in markets and they are willing to pay the
requested amounts every year. They feel subsidised inputs are
affordable and proper; they get enough inputs for their plots that
can actually yield food. Sourcing inputs individually would prove rather difficult for farmers who are mostly
dependant on pensions and child support grants.
There is a savings group in the area where some farmers have membership. They are planning to start a
savings group specifically for inputs in the near future. They know that projects come to an end and want to be
prepared to continue on their own after the completion of the 4 CA project.
Open storage of harvests in the traditional “ohlakeni’ leads to a lot of wastage and spoilage. Rat infestation is
high and farmers lose a lot. They requested assistance with buying closed drums for storage.
MDFGrainSASFIPBergvilleAnnualReport2015-2016| 36
Right: there is an existing small scale mill in the
community that has been running for around 8 years.
This room sized hammer mill can process around
1000kg of maize a day and produces super fine maize
meal. Mr Mabaso who runs the mill also sells the grit
as animal feed. He is planning to upgrade the building
and the mill as it works well as a source of income for
him.
NDUNWANA
This is a new expansion area around Bergville for 2015. Of the 15 participants who registered, 11 planted their
basic 400m2 intercropping trials of maize, beans and cowpeas and managed to obtain some yields.
Most of the participants did not expect much because of the drought; they had no hope of their maize growing
so they planted partly for the programme’s sake, not expecting much from it. Others added that they would
rather have taken the chance and failed as oppose to failing to try.
The PAN 6479 hybrid seed seemed a good enough strategy to deal with the drought as it wasmore tolerant to
the drought when compared withthe traditional seed. Having not disturbedthe soil much also worked in their
favor; moisture was preserved in the plot. This was evident in the yields obtained by the farmers regardless of
the high temperatures and poor rainfall. The CA worked well since they had food to eat and required no tractors
to plough the soil.
Above left: Matozo Zondo’s plot in Ndunwane despite somewhat patchy germination of the intercropped plots the
maize and beans are growing quite well. Planting was done in December 2016. Above right: Shiyiwe Mazibuko’s
plot. Here the lack of soil organic matter and relative dryness of the plot has favoured the growth of the cowpeas.
Maize and beans have not germinated well.
For these farmers growing maize conventionally has a lot of costs associated with it and the yields and incomes
are too small to justify these costs. They have witnessed that CA requires more labour, but even in a bad season
such as this last season they had maize and beans to eat with their families. Farmers do feel CA has made a
difference; their maize cobs have more lines of pips/seeds in them, usually a cob has ten lines at most 12, but
MDFGrainSASFIPBergvilleAnnualReport2015-2016| 37
with this one season there are more than that. Also the cobs fill up very close to the tip which is not the case
with maize grown conventionally.
Farmers start measuring yields in their plots by looking at how many cobs one plant produces as well as how
many 50kg bags can be filled. They have not been getting anything for a few years now, but with CA they can
now say that they have bags full of maize.
Buying inputs at normal prices for crop production is not affordable for these farmers which is why they do not
buy seed and fertilizers. They appreciate the subsidised input packs and are willing to pay every year. Presently
they do not save for inputs, but are willing to start a savings group where they could save specifically for inputs,
up to a R100 per month. Having cheaper inputs helps a lot as they could now focus on other problems that need
money and also enables them to save for the future.
The mill in Bergville where they are milling at present is a bit far for them. They are interested to work together
as a group to run a local mill as a small enterprise that can make an income for the group and assist with sourcing
inputs.
VIMBUKHALO
This area joined in the experimentation in 2014, which was a very good season for them. This season however,
due to drought only 3 people in the group planted. For the most part, they planted beans only as it was too late
to plant maize. Their beans did remarkably well. There is still interest to continue into next season and a
number of new people have joined the group.
Above left: A view of one Mrs Zimba’s fields in Vimbukhalo in Mid January 2016. Beans have just been planted. The
lack of growth and rain in the area is visible in the complete lack of vegetation. Above right; Sibongile Mpulo
stands in her bean plot. To the left is their maize (not CA) that was also produced this year.
For this area participants have noticed the following advantages for CA: softer soil, better germination and
growth of crops and much cheaper production costs. It costs around R1/m2 for hired ploughing and planting
services and most farmers cannot afford the R1000-R2000 that this would cost them for their fields.
Members are aware of the subsidized input packages as a way to cushion the costs of catering for new
participants coming into the program and also that of getting farmers used to the idea of budgeting as well as
increasing their independency as a collective to plan and save for and source inputs.
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They feel paying the required amounts per trial size and clubbing together to save for inputs is way better than
working individually. They are planning to set up a savings group to assist. Cheaper inputs help them because
they can spend that cash on other requirements. They also appreciate the fact that the input packages provide
the required fertilizer, herbicides and good seed to ensure good yields. Farmers mentioned that conventionally
they are tempted to stretch one bag of fertilizer to their whole field to save costs. They feel that with CA they
get more than they put in.
Harvests are kept strictly for household consumption. They can sell to neighbors who are in desperate need,
but not those who have not taken the effort to farm. Rats are a serious problem in their open traditional maize
storage structures. This group also would prefer individual storage of their yields in closed drums as an option.
NGOBA
Ngoba is a new expansion area for 2015. The area was chosen in an attempt to create a positive collaborative
relationship with the KZN Department of Agriculture staff in the area who have also been introducing no-till in
their areas. For this area there was a group of farmers who wanted to start a cooperative and buy no till
planting equipment together and were working with Mr Bheki Msimang from the Department. This
relationship did however not materialize, but we continued to work with 6 participants from the group.
The area battled with the drought and cattle invasions into the fields. Of the initial intercropping trials, only 1
person managed to keep her maize alive and her cowpeas did quite well. The other participants replanted their
plots to cover crops and beans later in the season.
Above left to right: Ntombenhle Hlongwane’s cowpeas grew well despite the severe conditions and cattle invasions.
Sebenzile Hlongwane replanted her plot to a summer cover crop mix that di reasonably well and Thobile Hadebe’s
scc mix seeding with sun hemp, sunflowers and millet in evidence.
MDFGrainSASFIPBergvilleAnnualReport2015-2016| 39
Right: Mr Celani Mtambu was not part of the experimental group but
took on the CA planting of his maize in his fenced field. As can be seen, he
grew a good crop of maize.
NKANDLA
Vulamhlamvu
The Vulamhlamvo group, a cooperative of community gardeners
supported by the Siyazisiza Trust had opted to do all their trials in one
field donated by a member of the purpose. Trials were thus quite small.
One joint field was planted as a control plot. Initial growth was promising but due to cattle invasions, crops
were completely decimated in the latter half of the season and no yields were realised.
Members of the group are to continue (6 of 11 initial volunteers) and with some new volunteers, a total of 10
participants are to continue. A relative of one of the group members is to donate a further field to increase the
size of this demonstration and the trials will be undertaken again after Siyazisia has assisted in securing fencing
for the group.
Given the intense livestock pressure in the area and also the lack of real results it was considered that a further
‘demonstration’ year be attempted prior to people undertaking the CA on their individual homestead plots. The
latter are presently small and shared within the family as husbands have not been involved, their interest in
CA is small. The demonstration would be combined with stakeholder interactions and a farmers day to ensure
community awareness and buy in and also to start dealing with the issue of grazing management in the
community.
Mphotolo
The 6 farmers involved in this CA process continued with their animal drawn planting process on bigger fields
of 1-5ha. Summer cover crops (millet, sunnhemp and sunflower) were introduced in the fields in February
2016 to ensure some cover, as the growth of the maize had been extremely patchy. Even the cover crops
planted did not germinate or grow well due to the harsh weather conditions. Although interested, these
farmers could not assist in broadening the interest into the rest of the community being primarily focussed on
their work for and with the Department of Agriculture. A decision was made not to pursue activities with this
group any further.
SUMMARY OF FARMERS COMMENTS
Benefits of CA
Greater yields
Fewer weeds in the intercropped plots as compared with sole crop plantings
Greater water holding capacity and improved moisture retention in the CA plots. This is great in drier
years. In wetter seasons however, the beans tend to rot if there is a lot of rain towards the end of the
season.
Although growth is better in the intercropped plots, beans tend to pod less in those shaded conditions.
CA maintains and improves soil structure. It reduces erodibility and ‘compaction’ of soil.
MDFGrainSASFIPBergvilleAnnualReport2015-2016| 40
Soils in CA plots are softer than in conventional plots
Participants have noticed that maize grows better and stronger and that the cobs increase from 1 to 2
or 3 per plant. The cobs are also bigger.
Seed varieties
In the Bergville area farmers prefer the two white hybrid maize varieties over the OPV maize.
Specifically, PAN 53 has outperformed PAN 6479 and they like the larger seed type.
Some farmers prefer Ukulinga beans over the PAN 148 that has also been tried as they feel that it grows
well. It is however more susceptible to disease and wind damage and thus works better as an inter-
crop. PAN 148 is a short season variety and also liked by a number of participants. It is easier to harvest
as it matures over a short period and can be higher yielding than Ukulinga. A number of farmers
commented that PAN 148 appears to be more drought resistant than Ukulinga, as it yielded better
under this season’s dry conditions
Cowpeas grew a lot better than beans in general in this drier season. Very few however set seed and as
a result are not preferred by the women farmers even though they are a great cattle fodder.
The OPV yellow maize (Colorado) grows and performs well. It is used as animal feed primarily.
OPV white maize (Border King) was not
preferred by farmers, as yields were lower and
large hard kernels proved difficult to mill.
Commercial mills will not accept this grain.
Right: An example of cobs of maize (2015 season) for
Border King (OPV) and PAN53 maize.
Inputs and input costs
Farmers are happyto follow the generic recommendations provided by facilitators and a number of farmers have
now also started to use those recommendations in their control plots. They feel that fertilizers work better than
manure. A number of farmers still place and incorporate small piles of manure in their fields as well.
Mostly they appreciate the use of pre plant spraying of herbicides and feel that this reduces the weeds initially.
Weeding during the season however is intensive. For the most part spraying is done for community members by
one or two individuals- so they are not aware of the herbicide used or how to do it. The women especially prefer
to have it done in this way.
The farmers know that the project will come to an end but feel that with the savings groups specifically for inputs
they are able to carry on after the project. They feel that having cheaper inputs save a lot as they have a lot of
problems to take care of that requires money.
The farmers do not keep track of how much it costs them to produce and how much they make after subtracting
inputs cost, mainly because most ofthem don’t sell. They are not aware of how much it cost to cultivate a 1ha
plot.
In the savings groups members choose a monthly amount to save according to affordability, rather than linking
it to the costs of inputs. Thus amounts ranging from R50-R100/ month are saved. In some groups members have
found this confusing, although it is in fact easy to record and manage
Labour
Generally this is reduced considerably except for weeding.
MDFGrainSASFIPBergvilleAnnualReport2015-2016| 41
With an animal drawn planter it is possible to plant 4 plots (x1000sqm or almost 0.5 ha) in a day with 3
people
Generally a plot smaller than 5 000 m2 can be planted by hand, but larger than 1 000- 5 000 m2 needs to
be planted using an animal drawn planter and larger than 1ha needs to be planted using a tractor.
Storage and marketing
Farmers prefer to store their yields in their own homesteads in drums where the fungi and pests can be
dealt with easily.
There is a distinct reluctance for joint storage options as they do not believe that people will be honest
and that conflict will arise.
Most farmers use closed drums and place ‘decab’ pills in the drums to control storage pests. Rats are a
major problem.
They sell some of the produce locally although most is kept for household consumption
This season beans were sold at R100/5l. (R21.66/kg)
Farmers do not like taking their harvests to the commercial mill in Bergville as they feel they have to
pay to have it stored and then also to buy it back as maize meal and feel that this is expensive for them.
They would prefer to be able to mill their maize locally STULWANE
Although rats consume stored maize, most farmers do not see this as a major problem and feel that
their storage practices are adequate
Drought
Herbicides were extremely ineffective this season under the drought conditions
For the CA plots there was more moisture than conventional and plants that did germinate, grew better.
Germination was still somewhat reduced under drought conditions but better than for conventionally
tilled plots.
Variability of rainfall between villages, even within one locality, means that each village or person really
has to make their own decision about taking a chance to plant.
This year, those that took a chance to plant after extremely marginal rain in December were mostly
rewarded for their efforts. Some participants had to plant a couple of times.
Planting late season beans is a good strategy for this area and worked well for all participants who tried
this strategy
Summer and winter cover crops that are more drought tolerant than maize were grown and performed
very well in some cases. These include millet, sun hemp, cowpeas, Dolichos, saia oats and radish.
Sunflowers did not mature, as their germination was low in comparison to other cc’s and also grazing
pressure on these were the highest. Fodder radish also did not do that well under these extreme
conditions.
Stalk borer infestations in the maize that was planted was much higher than in previous seasons. This
was attributed to the drought by the farmers
Cover crops, grazing, fodder and livestock management
There is a clear distinction in preferences for cover crop varieties between men and women. Women prefer
food crops and feel that growing the fodder crops would invite the cattle to invade their fields.
Male farmers like the idea of providing extra grazing for livestock, but have a problem with the idea of cutting
and feeding the cover crops as fodder, as they believe that this will still not solve the problem of cattle eating all
crop residues leaving the soil bare again. They do however feel that this is a very real option for them in terms
of providing extra fodder for livestock in winter so cutting and storage is a good option.
The main problem with the cover crops (apart from costs and accessibility) is that there is no livestock
management in the area in winter and it seems like an insurmountable problem to them. People are starting to
consider fencing their fields but do not have the finances for that and are asking for assistance. Participants
MDFGrainSASFIPBergvilleAnnualReport2015-2016| 42
have however already started to manage the movement of livestock in their fields to ensure that their own
livestock benefit- as opposed to any livestock in the village and some have started to cut and store the fodder
for later use. These practices can be promoted and built on to provide for a management process for cover
crops in these areas.
Millet grows well, especially in drier season, but is very susceptible to bird damage. Dolichos is good as an
animal fodder, but not a food crop as it is so slow to yield. In general terms women prefer food crops and thus
find growing a mix of summer cover crops difficult as there is no food value in these plantings. Men appreciate
the ability of the summer cover crops to provide fodder and feed for livestock (including cattle and poultry).
Participants like the idea of growing sunflowers. They would also like to try out turnips instead of fodder radish
as this is also a good food crop.
Learning, new ideas, adaptation
Generally farmers are not comfortable with the closely spaced intercropped plots promoted in the
experimentation. They do however see the advantages. Most groups would like to undertake implementation
that compares intercropping with single block plantings and also relay cropping. They would also want to
experiment with planting beans early and late in the season, having seen the late season beans perform very
well in this last season. The value of cover crops for the soil has been well noted and farmers appreciate the
additional benefits of food and fodder. Systems for setting up controlled winter grazing in the villages seem
very unlikely and farmers have pleaded for adapting the cover crop plantings to accommodate for this. In effect
the summer cover crops work well as they can be dried and stored in time for winter and can produce seed that
can be kept for re-planting. Attempts to get farmers to grow the winter cover crops in fenced-in areas to
produce and keep seed have as yet not borne fruit. Farmers are most willing to cut and store fodder for their
livestock in winter.
Farmers that have been a part of the process for 2-3 years, felt that the process of CA is easy and
straightforward and that they can now continue with this process by themselves. They feel confident that they
can help others in their community to start this process. They would like support to increase their yields even
more.
Soil health and fertility is still not understood well and farmers generally only relate soil fertility to yields, so
greater yields means greater fertility. Some of the more observant farmers have included visual characteristics
such as colour (darker means more fertile), lack of clods and ‘softness’ to fertility as well. A few farmers include
ease of germination of seed as a soil fertility characteristic
Regarding seed and seed types (traditional, OPV, hybrids and GM) farmers do not understand the difference
and use only visual criteria such as seed size to differentiate. There is extremely little appreciation for the fact
that all these types cross pollinate or the effect of such crossing.
Generally the feeling is that herbicides used before and at planting helps a lot as it reduces the need for hand
weeding. Some farmers have learnt the nuances of certain herbicides affecting certain plants and others killing
everything they come into contact with. They are aware to some extent that beans are more sensitive to
herbicides and especially Round-Up.
INNOVATION PLATFORMS
The building of social capital and self-organisation has been continuing and growing steadily through the
learning groups, joint working groups and the local facilitators in terms of sharing resources, tools and
equipment and provision of advice and monitoring support to the farmers.
MDFGrainSASFIPBergvilleAnnualReport2015-2016| 43
Savings and credit groups (SCGs) with the purpose of saving for inputs for production have been set up and are
now operational in three of the villages, with another four being set up for the coming growing season.
There are two groups respectively in Eqeleni (Masithuthuke and Masibambane) and Ezibomvini (Ukuzama,
Ezibomvini). An example is given below of a savings meeting for one of the groups that is nearing the end of its
yearly savings cycle. Shares are R100 each
Table12: List of Masithuthuke SCGmembersthat met on8 JULY 2016
NO
NAME
SURNAME
TOTAL
SHARES
TOTAL
LOANS
GROUP INFO
1
Simephi
Nkosi
19
500
Share price: R 100
2
Busisiwe
Mvelase
9
500
Share bought in July: R4300
3
Thulile
Zikode
14
Loans repaid in July: R2 670
4
Thembeni
Zimba
11
500
Loans taken in July R1 400
5
Welile
Hlongwane
11
6
Khonzaphi
Hlongwane
22
500
Cash in the box: R29 390.
7
Thembeni
Nkosi
12
400
8
Zanele
Mvelase
6
500
9
Nompumelelo
Hlongwane
13
100
10
Thandayiphi
Mdakane
8
11
Mzamo
Zikode
7
12
Khathaleni
Mlambo
6
1000
13
Kokiza
Zikode
11
300
14
Lungile
Msimanga
7
1000
15
Nelisiwe
Ngema
6
1500
16
Mtshengiseni
Hlatshwayo
15
1000
17
Hleziphi
Makhaye
9
18
Zanele
Mdluli
30
400
19
Nokuthula
Hlongwane
6
600
20
Bongile
Mbhele
3
900
21
Winile
Khumalo
24
1000
22
Khumbuzile
Zikode
40
1000
23
Nothando
Hadebe
5
1000
24
Ntombi
Khumalo
43
500
25
Sindi
Dlalisa
7
1000
This example indicates that members of this group have saved an average of R1 300 each. The most saved is
R4 300. There are still a number of small loans outstanding and already the value of cash saved is in the region
of R29,000. As the group nears its share out date in this case end September 2016 to accommodate for
buying of inputs, the number of small loans given is reduced considerably to ensure that all members repay
their loans before the share out day. On that day all cash will be divided according the shares bought by
members and the percentage interest they have earned.
These savings and credit groups are an extremely important factor in the coherence and sustainability
of the CA intervention. These groups allow the participants to buy the subsidised inputs and continue
production with a fair amount of independence from external assistance.
From individual household interviews conducted for 14 participants in Stulwane and 3 participants in Eqeleni
(in early July 2016) the following information has been summarised. See table 10 on the page below.
The average age of the participants in the Bergville CA project study area is 50 years, and 75% of participants
are women. Households consist of around 7-9 members of which 62% are children. Participants receive income
primarily in the form of grants (pensions and child grants) with some remittances from employed members of
MDFGrainSASFIPBergvilleAnnualReport2015-2016| 44
the family. None of the participants themselves are employed. The average household income is around R2 000
per month.
70% of these 17 participants belong to SCGs and saved between R300-R1200 for inputs in the 2015-2016
season. 47% of these participants participated in a bulk buying group for their production inputs. Most
participants use the harvests for household consumption. On average households have had 40kg of beans from
this last season’s trials. Maize and bean yields are enough to last households 5-6 months. Those who have sold
beans have made between R250-R2700 from their sales.
This indicates that the harvests from the trial plots alone are providing a considerable amount of food for the
families and contributing towards improving their livelihoods. Participants have provided maize and beans to
neighbours who have been struggling due to the drought either for free or at reduced sales prices.
Table 13: Summary of livelihoodsinformationfor 17 participantsfrom Stulwaneand Eqeleniinthe
Bergvillearea.
MDFGrainSASFIPBergvilleAnnualReport2015-2016| 45
Area
Surname
Name
Age
Gend
er
HH
no
Childre
n
Income
from Grants
Savings
group
Bulk
buying
Amt saved
for inputs
Costs
Sold
h/h
use(kg)
Months of
food
Stulwane
Dlamini
Bangeni
49
F
12
6
R1 500
Yes
yes
R 320,00
R 320,00
R
400,00
60
4
Dlamini
Thulani
50
M
10
8
R2 000
Yes
yes
R 600,00
R 320,00
R -
6
Hlongwane
Dlezakh
e
50
M
7
5
R1 500
yes
yes
R 300,00
R 320,00
R -
6
Dlamini
Mtholeni
66
M
9
4
R3 200
yes
yes
R 320,00
Gumbi
Matoloz
ana
64
F
10
6
R2 200,00
yes
yes
R 300,00
R 320,00
R -
37
1
Dladla
Khuleka
ni
43
M
3
1
R 1 400,00
yes
yes
R 300,00
R 320,00
Hlongwane
Nokwali
wa
62
F
5
2
R 2 000,00
no
no
R -
R 220,00
R
200,00
28
3
Nsele
Nelisiwe
44
F
6
4
R 2 700,00
Yes
no
R 300,00
R 220,00
R
160,00
37
3
Miya
Kethaba
hle
65
F
13
6
R 3 700,00
Sithebe
Phasazil
e
55
F
11
5
R 2 250,00
yes
no
R 300,00
R 220,00
R -
1
Dladla
Makethi
47
F
6
5
R 1 000,00
yes
yes
R 300,00
R -
10
Buthelezi
Cupile
43
F
9
7
R 2 700,00
yes
yes
R 600,00
R 220,00
R -
55,4
6
Dladla
Sithembi
le
34
F
4
3
R 750,00
no
no
R -
R -
R -
37
10
Zondi
Nothile
32
F
4
3
R 750,00
no
no
R -
R -
50
F=10,
M=4
8
5
R 1 975,00
R 276,67
R 233,33
R
253,00
42,4
5
Eqeleni
Hlatshwayo
Simephi
61
F
3
1
R 1 500,00
yes
no
R 1 200,00
R 318,00
R 2
700,00
10
Mabaso
Tolweph
i
55
F
10
3
R 2 000,00
no
no
R -
R 318,00
3
Mvelase
Busisiwe
32
F
7
5
R 2 250,00
no
no
R -
R -
6
49
F=3
7
3
R 1 916,67
R 400,00
R 212,00
R 2
700,00
6,33
MDFGrainSASFIPBergvilleAnnualReport2015-2016| 46
Farmers days and stakeholder interactions
In Bergville, due to the difficult dry season, it was decided to hold local farmers days events, rather than one
large event to ensure local participation and an opportunity to showcase the growth of the trials and cover
crops in these communities.
- Ezibomvini; 23 March. Around 100 community members from Ezibomvini, Eqeleni, Stulwane,
Vimbukalo, Magangangozi and Emangweni joined the farmers day. In addition, Mr Bright Mashiyane
from the KZNDARD gave a presentation on CA and other extension officers from Umzimkulu and Ixopo
joined the proceedings. Field workers and farmers joined from NGO’s including Farmer Support
Group (FSG), and ACAT. Testimonies were given by three farmers from Ezibomvini and Mrs Hlatshwayo
from Eqeleni. Field walks were organised to three different small farms to observe a number of
different trials including crop rotation, intercropping and summer and winter cover crops
Above left: Mrs Phumelele Hlongwane discusses her trials during the field walks; Above middle; the community
gathered for the farmers day and Above right: Mr Mashiyane from KZNDARD gives a presentation on CA to the
community at Ezibomvini
- Mhlwazini; 6 April. Around 83 community participants from Mhlwazini, Ndunwane and Ngoba joined
the farmers day. Field workers and farmers from Siyazisiza (an NGO partner) joined the proceeding as
did local extension staff from the department of Agriculture
Above left: Mr Michael Malinga from Mahlathini addressed the farmer gathering. Above middle: Trekking up the
hill to see the field trails and Above right: the community members attending the farmers day
In addition farmers attended events hosted by other organisations;
- Dundee Research Station Farmers day; 16 March; A big open day hosted by the KZNDARD
Presentation and demonstration by Mr NT Madondo of implements used in the smallholder farming
programme- hand held and animal drawn no till planters.
MDFGrainSASFIPBergvilleAnnualReport2015-2016| 47
Abov
Above left; Mr Bright Mashiyane discussing CA with the CA trials done at the Dundee research Station Above Right:
Showcasing peanut production.
- Reitz Green Tour, 17 March; A group of 7 farmers from the SFIP programme in Bergville joined the
Mahlathini field work team to attend this event. Here they could compare their implementation of CA as
smallholder farmers to the work being done by commercial farmers also implementing CA. This was a
great eye opener for them, providing them with insight into implementing CA at scale, but also an
appreciation of the fact that many of the issues to be dealt with are similar.
Above left; Mr Egon Zunckle presenting at the Reitz CA farmer’s day in the Free state. Above right: the group of
smallholders and Mahlathini staff in the field walks of the day assessing differences in long term CA trials done
on the farm.
- Hilton CA awareness raising workshop hosted by the KwaZulu-Natal Notill Club: A presentation
was given by Mr NT Madondo on this occasion on Smallholder implementation of CA and his trials and
successes.
In addition a poster has been presented at the WITS University Climate Change colloquium in early July 2016,
shown overleaf. A paper has also been accepted for presentation at the Landcare Conference in October 2016
entitled: Smallholder farmer innovation promotes climate change adaptation in conservation
agriculture.
MDFGrainSASFIPBergvilleAnnualReport2015-2016| 48
MONITORING
The use of the two monitoring frameworks for the CA scores and the VSA- Visual Soil assessment scores were
continued into the third season.
The CA score results for the past three seasons for the CA trial plots are shown in the table below for the
Stulwane participants .
Table 14: A comparison of the CA scores over 3growing seasons in Stulwane;2013-2015
Average of Overall score(10)
Year
Name andSurname
Year 1
Year 2
Year 3
Average
BangeniDlamini
8,25
8,13
5,80
7,39
CazileZimba
7,13
7,00
7,06
CupileButhelezi
6,00
7,75
6,30
6,68
Dlezakhe Hlongwane
7,13
7,56
6,50
7,06
Khetabahle Miya
7,00
6,20
6,60
Khombisile Msele
8,20
8,20
KhulekaniDladla
7,13
7,25
6,30
6,89
Landile Nsele
6,75
4,25
5,50
Makethi Dladla
7,63
7,88
7,60
7,70
MatolozanaGumbi
6,50
5,90
6,20
Mtholeni Dlamini
6,50
7,50
6,26
6,75
Nelisiwe Nsele
8,50
6,70
7,60
NokwaliwaHlongwane
6,70
6,70
Nothile Zondi
5,70
5,70
PhasazileSithebe
7,13
5,33
6,50
6,32
Thandiwe Mazibuko
6,56
6,56
Thulani Dlamini
7,46
6,30
6,88
ThulislieHlongwane
7,13
7,45
7,29
Xabanisile Mabaso
6,60
6,60
Zamani Dladla
6,88
7,75
7,31
Average
7,04
6,86
6,47
6,88
For the third season, very few control plots were planted given the severe weather conditions and late planting.
There has been a definite decrease in the scores for the CA trials between the 2nd and 3rdseasons. It is becoming
apparent that using these scores to base incentives on- or as the basis of a PES (Payment for Ecosystems
Services) model, is going to be difficult given the variances in weather across the years.
The scores for the CA trial plots, when compared with control plots are consistently higher for the first two
years. These scores are a good indication of the improvements that CA can lead to. These results were
presented in previous reports.
The VSA (Visual Soil Assessment) scores, both the set of soil scores and plant scores show a similar trend of
reduction in this season as compared to the 2014-2015 season. The extreme drought conditions that reduced
ground cover and crop growth considerably affected the scores. This is shown in the figure below.
.
MDFGrainSASFIPBergvilleAnnualReport2015-2016| 50
Figure 9: A comparison of the VSA scores for two growing season in Stulwane.
NOTES: S1: Is the VSA soil scores or season 1 (2014-2015)
S2: Is the VSA soil scores for season 2 (2015-2016)
P1: Is the VSA plant scores or season 1 (2014-2015)
P2: Is the VSA plant scores for season 2 (2015-2016)
The generalised comparison of the CA scores, the VSA scores and yields that were made in the previous season
is shown in the small table below.
CA monitoring
scores
VSA Soil scores
VSA plant scores
Yields (Maize)
Above average
≥7
>28
>15
3-8.9 tons/ha
Average
5-6.9
11-28
7-15
1-2.9tons/ha
Below average
3-4.9
<11
<7
≤1ton/ha
In general, these relationships still hold, but it is considered that a simpler process for the incentives and
subsidy related criteria needs to be designed. This process will also need to include the social and
organisational criteria, such as group work and savings.
Dlezakhe
Hlongwa
ne
Khulekan
i Dladla
Bangeni
Dlamini
Makethi
Dladla
Mtoleni
Dlamini
Phasazile
Sithebe
Cupile
Buthelezi
Nokwali
wa
Hlongwa
ne
Kethabah
le Miya
Matoloza
na
Gumbi
Thulani
Dlamini
Nelisiwe
Dlamini AVERAGE
S1 31 29 22 29 29 24 31 26 20 29 29 3127,5
S2 20 25 22 22 30 24 29 26 22 29 25 2925,25
P1 17 17 17 19 16 16 19 16 17 14 16 1716,75
P2 17 17 16 17 14 14 14 16 14 14 17 1615,5
0
5
10
15
20
25
30
35
Scores
Stulwane VSA scores 2 seasons, 2014-2015
MDFGrainSASFIPBergvilleAnnualReport2015-2016| 51
Appendix 1: Table: Key activities, outputs and deliverables July 2015- September 2016; planned and actual.
Expenditure has been managed to be within the work plan and monthly budgets. An amount of R47 644,43 remains for the last two months August-September
2016.
EXPENDITURE
Milestones/
Outputs
Key activities
OUTCOMES/
DELIVERABLES
Budgets OctNovDecJanFebMarchAprilMayJune JulyAugSept
Actual
expenditure
per budget
item
Pd grainSA
TOTAL
EXPENDITURE
Documentaiton
Meeting and monthly
reports
R 89 000,00R 5 275,36R 5719,45R 11 844,75R 20 708,62R 7004,88R 4924,80R 6831,84R 6682,31R 68 992,01
Expeirmentation
List of participants,
interviews and
contracts, PID plans,
awarenes and training
R 337 000,00R 40 250,23R 23 362,09R 21 725,00R 24 200,00R 29 500,00R 37 989,06R 11 054,56R 7483,7629251,42R 46 300,00R 271 116,12
M&E
Quarterly reports,
monitoring reports and
forms, baselines,
presentations
R 104 000,00R 659,60R 23 362,09R 14 653,46R 12 771,67R 9243,54R 4860,00R 5209,92R 70 760,28
Platforms
Stakeholder meetings,
platform building and
events
R20 000,00R 1889,00182,00R R 2071,00
Captial equipmentR 46 185,19R52443,63R 48223,21R57 680,29R47 637,42R37 989,06R16161,36R 19 175,60R 29 251,42R58192,23R412 939,41
R 550 000,00R 83 008,00R69703,00R 32352,00R32 352,00R46 403,00R46 398,00R36398,00R 36 398,00R 36 398,00R46398,00R 36 398,00R 11 396,00
Aug-SeptR 47 794,00
Workplan budget
Oct-May
R 383 012,00
Actual Oct-April
89416,11RR 502 355,52
R47644,48
JulAugSept Printing
14478,1R74 249,24R120 184,8741087,79R250 000,00
sub TOTAL: Jul-Sept 2015
250 000,00RR61 916,00R66 916,00R121 168,00R162 255,79R250 000,00
Variance R0,00
Sub - TOTAL: Oct2105-Sept2016
INVOICES
Bergville Milestones: Farmer Centred Innovation in
CA. July 2015- September 2016
Farmer
experimenta
tion
Bergville
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Appendix 2: Soil health test results for 10 participants in Bergville, October 2015.
AREANAMEDATE SAMPLE
CO2-C
(ppmC)
Organic
C:N ratio
Total Org
C (ppm)
OrgN
ppm
Soil
Health
Score
Cover
crop
(legume/
grass)
N
release
d
N
reserve
Total N
(ppm)
N
available
(kg/ha)
Trad eval
N (kg/ha)
Differenc
e(Kg/ha)
Financial
valuefor
the
difference
P
available
(kg/ha)
K
available
(kg/ha)
Bergville
Emmaus
Hlatshwayo+MabasoSep-15Veld baseline sample128,921,5268 12,59,9460/406,26,313,416,130,215,9R 285,3811,60229,50
KhonzaphiHlongwane
Sep-15Veld baseline sample26,417,5368 217,370/3030,227,5516,6910,9R 194,6521,73175,84
SmephiHlatshwayoJul-152nd year intercrop trial179,110,792 8,1618,4420/808,6014,4633,2610,123,2415,03R 117,94285,49
SmephiHlatshwayoSep-152nd yearintercrop trial86,312,1148 15,910,6550/5015,9022,250,5111,638,9696,98R67,20252,00
TholwepiMabasoJul-152nd year intercrop trial179,110,7132 12,319,2820/8012,3015,434,615,429,2523,32R112,00268,10
TholwepiMabasoSep-152nd year intercrop trial113,211,4231 20,214,2440/6020,2028,563,8411,352,5941,37R73,81273,50
Khonzaphi Hlongwane
Jul-152nd year intercrop trial98,112,8103 89,4860/408011,225,206,718,5331,11R 71,23181,66
Khonzaphi Hlongwane
Sep-152nd year intercrop trial118,516,6148 8,99,560/408,9012,127,105,721,4383,28R 129,14124,99
Nomavila NdabaJul-152nd year intercrop trial62,710,7124 11,68,2460/4011,6014,231,8082,68829,1521,75R 32,93303,18
NelisiweMseleJul-152nd year intercrop trial128,912,1151 12,513,4140/6012,5017,639,428,431,0555,86R 45,36279,10
Stulwane
NokwaliwaHlongwane
Sep-15Veld baseline sample78,420,3385 199,6260/404,614,428,832,266,925,3453,52R 2,9136,85
Makethi DladaSep-15Veld baseline sample82,325,9177 6,85,6370/303,23,77,48,510,38,2146,49R 2,9186,24
Mtholeni DlaminiSep-15Veld baseline sample179,122,5374 16,613,35 40/608,18,518 21,280,2221,1R 377,264,37249,87
Makethi DladlaSep-15
2nd yr intercrop and
cover crops
134,1 16,8305 18,212,85 40/6016,11,626,856,3415,341,0 734,46R 24,1976,27
Nokwaliwa Hlongwane
Jul-151st yr intercorp52,39,697 10,17,45 70/3010,1024 53,7629,324,4437,46R24,5327,10
Sep-151st yr intercorp102,86,4129 20,119,320/8020,1054,6122,3073,948,4866,90R62,6151,63
Mtholeni DlaminiJul-152nd year intercrop trial179,112,189 7,416,4830/707,4010,824,307,317,0305,02R 60,59197,68
ZamaniDladlaJul-152nd year intercrop trial155,69,8111 11,318,0520/8011,3034,831,585,825,8461,55R 121,86311,81
Dlezakhe HlongwaneJul-152nd year intercrop trial179,113.1161 12,316,1530/7012,3021,335,846,629,2523,75R 63,84274,40
MDFGrainSASFIPBergvilleAnnualReport2015-2016| 53
Appendix 3: Focus group discussion outline
Focus Group discussions: July-August 2016
Inputs
1)What did you spend on input costs this year for your trial and normal planting? And in previousyears under
normal weather conditions (Divide them up into small groups to come up with figures if it is hard for
individuals to come up with answers)
2)What did you expect from your trial compared to your usual planting?
3)How do you measure yields?
4)Are you aware of payments for input packages? What do you understand about them?
5)How much do you spend on input costs for 1ha?
6)How do you plan to pay or save for them?
(a)Do cheaper payments/subsidies assist you? ……………………………………………………………………….
(b)How does having cheaper inputs help you?
(c)Does that mean that buying inputs at their normal price is not affordable? ………………………
(d)Does what you get from your production cover cost? .............................................................
(e)Do you know how much you make after you have subtracted input costs?
7)Are you aware that the input subsidies programme is applicable for a certain period of time? (Yes/No)
8)If yes, do you have a plan to buy your own inputs? .................................................................................
Costing
1)Are you a member of a savings group? Yes/ No
2)If, yes how much are your monthly contributions in the group?
3)Do you contribute any funds directly towards the sourcing of the production inputs? Yes/No?
4)If yes, how much?
5)If no, why?
6)What factors determine the contributed amounts towards sourcing of inputs?
7)How does the amount contributed compare to actual cost of production inputs?
a)Is it a predetermined amount? (Yes/No)
b)Is it what savings group members can afford? (Yes/No)
c)Is the amount determined per growing season? Or cost of production inputs in local markets?
(Yes/No)
Yields
1)Did the use of the CA processes improve your yield? (Yes/no)
2)If yes, how has it differed compared to previous seasons?
3)How did you use your yield?
4)Do you store your yield? (Yes/no)
5)If yes, how?
6)If no, what do you do with your yield?
7)What storage issues do you face?
a)How do you deal with them?
b)From harvesting to eating, how much do you think you lose?
c)Would you need assistance on how to do it better?
8)What are your views on joint-storage of yields?
Markets and marketing options
1.Do you sell your yield? Yes/no
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a)If yes, where?
b)How much do you sell? How much?
c)If no, why don’t you sell?
2.Do you know or use any local mills? …………………………………………………………………………………………………
3.Is it a good idea to use a local mill?
Drought coping strategies
1.What has been the impact of the drought?
2.Did you plant during the drought? (Yes/No)
a)If yes, what are your adaptation strategies to ease the impact of the drought?
b)How have you tried to deal with drought?
c)Did you change your farming in any way to accommodate for the drought?
3.How did organizations work with you during the drought?
4.How did the CA work during the drought? …………………………………………………………………………………..
Cover crops
1.Did/ do you grow cover crops? (Yes/No)
a)What do you understand about the purpose of cover crops? ………………………………………….
b)Which one grew better? And why? …………………………………………………………………………………
c)Is there anyone still keeping seeds or is it possible to keep seeds?
2.Do you think using cover crops as fodder or as feed a good idea? (Yes/No)
If no why?
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Appendix 4: GrainSA Conservation Agriculture impact assessment questionnaire; July
2016
GENERAL INFORMATION
Name and surname……………………………………………………….M/F………………………………………..
Area/Village ………………………………………………………………ID No……………………………………..
Years under CA…………………………………………………………Size of trial…………………………………
No of h/h members………………………………………………….No of children………………………………….
Main source of income……………………….No of grants (Pension and child)………, ………..
Member of Saving’s group Y/N…………………Bulk buying group Y/N……………………
Amount saved for inputs……………………………………….
GENERAL CA
After one/two years being involved in this project, how do you feel about CA/No till?
What was your perception about CA before you join this project and what is your perception now?
What are the things you have learnt about CA?
Will you encourage your neighbours to practice CA and show them how to do it?
What change have you observed in you plots ever since it’s been planted CA method? Eg (Positive and negative
and describe)
1.Erosion
2.Soil Fertility
3.Moisture…
4. Productivity/ yield ……………………………………………..
SOIL HEALTH
Do you know how to identify a fertile/infertile soil? Yes/No
What are the characteristics that you look for to identify a fertile soil?
1.……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………
2.……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………
3.……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………
4.……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………
5.……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………
By your own observation, has the CA improved the soil fertility in your trail plot?
Yes/No Why? ....
COVER CROPS
Have you planted cover crops? Yes/No……………2015…………………………………2104…………………
If yes, which ones did you plant?
Summer
Tick
Winter
tick
Millet
Black oats
Sunflower
Fodder raddish
Sunnhemp
Fodder rye
Cowpeas
Vetch
Sorghum
How did you plant the cover crops?(In between maize or separate)………………………………………………
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Please comment on the growth (Which ones grew well, which did not and why……
Which Cover crops do you prefer and why ?(Food, fodder)
Have you harvested seed from any of the cover crops?( Which ones, estimate amount or yield)
Grazing of summer and winter cover crops? Please explain how this happens
Is there a better way to manage the razing? (Give some ideas)
Cutting and taking to kraals? Or drying and storage for later use? Please comment on these options
FARMER TRAINING
Has the training (demonstrations and workshops) helped you to increase you knowledge about CA
Yes/No How has it helped ?
Are you able to practice the principles/guidelines of CA training on your own? Yes/No
Why?
Did you follow principles that you learnt from CA training to plant your control plots at planting?
Yes/No Why? Would you want to get some more training about CA? Yes/No
Would you recommend CA training to other community members? Yes/No
Why? ..................................................................................................................................................................
EXPERIMENTAL PLOT QUESTIONS
Please describe which planters you have used and how this has worked for you (MBLI, Matracca, Animal
drawn,.. Haraka) (Incl comments on how to use, how to calibrate, maintenance)
Do the planters work better than the hand hoes Y/N. Please explain why or why not
Based on your observations, are the herbicides/pesticides we have been using before planting effective?
Yes/No Why
Do you know the dangers/disadvantages of herbicides? Yes/No
Do you know how to use herbicides/pesticides? Yes/No
How effective are herbicides compared to hand weeding?
Has it ever happened that herbicides did not work in your plot? Yes/No
Do you know why sometimes herbicides don’t work?
What is the contribution of inter crop in weed control?
Has the number or type of weeds decreased/increased in your tail plot ever since you started planting CA
method? Yes/No
How do you think farmers can improve the method of weeding in No Till plots?
Which maize/bean seed did you like and you have seen more productive? (trad. OPV,Hybrid, GM) Do you know
the differences in these varieties? Yes/No
1.………………………………
2.……………………………….
3.………………………………..
4.…………………………………
5.…………………………………
6.………………………………..
Why?
Which type would you prefer to continue planting?
1.
2.
3.
Do you know how planting all these different types of maize close together affects the seed?
Yes/No
Is the crossing between the different types of maize a problem? Yes/No
If so, what suggestions do participants have about keeping different types of seed pure?
MDFGrainSASFIPBergvilleAnnualReport2015-2016| 57
What were the challenges you encountered during the planting season?
What time do you think is conducive to start planting?
How is planting using mixed planting method different from single planting?
Have you observed the benefits of mixed-cropping in your trial plots?
Yes/No Why?
Would you extend mixed cropping to your control plots? Yes/No
Why?……………………………………………
Do you know any other methods of CA planting apart from mix-cropping and have you ever used them? Have
the yields in trial plots improved? Yes/No ,... By how much?
If not what do you think is the problem?
If yes, what do you think has influenced the increased in yields?
CROP GROWTH
What are your perceptions on using generic fertilizer recommendations
Do you use these recommendations on your control plots Y/N…. .. If not, please explain why
Please describe what pest and disease issues you have noticed on the trial plots and what you did to solve these
problems
Have you noticed any differences in crop growth and yields from the first and second years on your trial plots?
(Please describe how crops have germinated and grown this season and compared previous years if you
planted before) Yes/No
Have you wanted to commit to increasing your sizes of land for cropping? Yes/No
Give estimates of how much food there is now compared to previously (maybe in no of people in a household
and how long they can eat form the harvest)
Is it possible to give an indication of what has been sold, some idea of how much and to whom? And the income
you have generated (for both maize and beans)
HARVESTING AND STORAGE:
What is your perception around the harvesting process?
Do you have any suggestions to make it more efficient?
How do you tell whether the maize is dry enough, both for harvesting and later for storage?
Does the present system of storage work well?
What are the problems?
1.
2.
3.
4.
What are some suggestions to make storage more efficient?
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
Are there problems with mould and fungi as well as pests in the stored maize? Please describe these problems
and how participants deal with these?
Any further thoughts about individual/ joint storage options that would work for participants?
Social issues
LABOUR:
What are the issues with labour with CA as compared to conventional cropping?
MDFGrainSASFIPBergvilleAnnualReport2015-2016| 58
1.
2.
3.
4.
Is there a saving in labour? Yes/No
Is it more or less for preparation, planting, weeding etc?
What size of land can one person comfortably work on by themselves?
How has working together in teams worked?
Do you have any suggestions about dealing with some of the problems that may arise with this?
What size land can be hand cultivated, cultivated with oxen drawn planters and what size will need a tractor
drawn planter?
What is the present situation with access to tractors and ploughing, what are the options for using tractor
drawn no till planters?
COSTS:
Do you have an idea of how much inputs costs for 1ha? Yes/No
What inputs do you normally buy?
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
What inputs do you think you will need to buy as well to ensure that you maize grows better?
1.
2.
3.
4.
How much can you afford to pay? Please give a minimum and maximum range.
For those participants who are saving, how much will you save for your input costs?
EXPERIMENTATION:
Are there other people in the community who want to join in the experimentation?
Yes/No (List)
Can you as more experienced CA participants give advice to newcomers? Yes/No
Can you buy as a group/individually some of the tools and equipment? Yes/No
Is it an idea to have input packs available in the community for sale? Yes/No
Is any individual interested to try and run this as a business, or would they rather do it as a small group?