Midlands Annual Progress Report 2019

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APPENDIX 5: KWAZULU-NATAL MIDLANDS
ANNUAL PROGRESS REPORT
CA FarmerInnovation Programme (CA-FIP) for
smallholders in KZNMidlands.
Period: October 2018-September2019
Farmer Centred Innovation in Conservation Agriculture in upper
catchment areas of the Drakensberg in Midlands of KwaZulu-
Natal
Compiled by:
Erna Kruger and Temakholo Mathebula
September 2019
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Project implemented by:
Mahlathini Development Foundation
Promoting collaborative, pro-poor agricultural innovation
Contact:Erna Kruger (Founder and Coordinator)
Address: 2 Forresters Lane, Pietermaritzburg, 3201, KZN
Email: erna@mahlathiniorganics.co.za, info@mahlathini.org
Cell: 0828732289
Time of operation: 2003-2018
Legal status: NPC
BEE status: 4. Certificate available.
Funded by:
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Contents
IDENTIFICATION OF THE PROJECT............................................................................................................ 4
DESCRIPTION AND SELECTION OF STUDY AREAS........................................................................................................4
APPROACH AND METHODOLOGY .............................................................................................................. 4
KEY ACTIVITIES: OCTOBER 2018-SEPTEMBER 2019.............................................................................. 5
RESULTS ACHIEVED TO DATE.................................................................................................................... 5
OVERALL PROCESS...................................................................................................................................... 9
Year 1:............................................................................................................................................................9
Year 2:......................................................................................................................................................... 10
Year 3:......................................................................................................................................................... 10
Possible agrochemical spraying regime options....................................................................................... 11
RUNOFF PLOTS ................................................................................................................................................... 11
PROGRESS PER AREA OF IMPLEMENTATION......................................................................................... 11
OZWATHINI......................................................................................................................................................... 11
Appelbosch/ Ozawathini - Swidi Group.................................................................................................... 14
Ozwathini - Gobinsimbi.............................................................................................................................. 16
Swayimane ................................................................................................................................................. 18
Cornfields ................................................................................................................................................... 22
Ntabamhlope ............................................................................................................................................. 26
THE SEASON -IN SUMMARY................................................................................................................................... 27
MAIZE YIELDS............................................................................................................................................... 28
CHANGES IN YIELD DISTRIBUTION IN THE 2018 AND2019 GROWING SEASONS ........................................................ 29
Gobizembe ................................................................................................................................................. 30
Mayizekanye 1 (Nomusa Shandu’s group) .............................................................................................. 31
Mayizekanye 2 (Thembi Mkhize’s group).................................................................................................31
Mayizekanye 3 (Dumazile Nxusa’s Group)............................................................................................... 31
Ozwathini.................................................................................................................................................... 32
Challenges with Maize Market.................................................................................................................. 34
Cornfields ................................................................................................................................................... 35
BEAN AND COWPEAS YIELDS....................................................................................................................... 35
COVER CROPS.............................................................................................................................................. 37
KEY RISK FACTORS, ADAPTATION STRATEGIES ........................................................................................... 39
BUDGET SUMMARY BY AUGUST 2019......................................................................................................... 41
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Identification of the project
Description and selection of study areas
The KZNMidlands programme has been expanding the CA Smallholder Farmer Innovation
Programme (SFIP)activitiespilotedin Bergville to other maize growing areas in the Midlands,
i.e. Estcourt, New Hanover and Wartburg for the last 2 seasons.
Communities targeted in this season expanded from Cornfields and Swayimanye (New
Hanover)to include 3new groups in Appelsbosch/ Ozawathini (Wartburg) and one group in
Ntabamhlope (Estcourt).
Approach and Methodology
The farmer-centred innovation systems research process underpinning the programme, which
is based on working intensively with farmer learning groups and local facilitators in each of the
villages, has been continued and strengthened.
Within the learning groups farmer innovators volunteer to set up and manage farmer-managed
adaptive trials as the ‘learning venues’ for the whole learning group. Farmer Field School(FFS)
methodologies are used within the group to focus the learning on the actual growth and
development of the crops throughout the season.New ideas(CA practices)are tested against
the ‘normal’ practise in the area as the controls. Farmers observe, analyse and assess what is
happening in the trials and discuss appropriate decisions and management practices. Small
information provision anddiscovery-learning or training sessions are included in these
workshops/ processes. These are based also on the seasonality of the crop and the specific
requests and questions from farmer learning group participants.
Local facilitators are chosen from within and by members of the learning group to be a person
who has the required experience, knowledge and a willingness to support the other farmer
innovators in their implementation. Facilitators are only chosen and appointed where people
with the appropriate skill and personality exists. Local facilitators receive a stipend for a
maximum of 10 working days per month, for their support to the farmer innovators. They fill in
detailed timesheets outlining their activities against which they claim a monthly stipend.
Learning group members agree to a season long learning process and put forward the farmer
innovators to run the trials. Each prospective innovator is interviewed and visited and signs an
agreement with the GrainSA team regarding their contribution to the process. They undertake
to plant and manage the CA trials according to the processes and protocols introduced as well as
a control plot of the same size. For the latter, farmers provide their own inputs.
The adaptive trials are also used as a focus point for the broader community to engage through
local learning events and farmers’ days. Stakeholders and the broader economic, agricultural
and environmental communities are drawn into these processes and events. Through these
events Innovation Platforms (IPs) are developed for cooperation, synergy between programmes
and development of appropriate and farmer led processes for economic inclusion. These IPs
also provide a good opportunity to focus scientific and academic research on the ‘needs’ of the
process.
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In this season (2018-2019) we have continued to focus on the following elements of the model,
namely:
a) Support farmers who are in their 1st, , 2ndand 3rd seasons of implementation
b) Intercropping and crop rotation
c) Late season planting of beans
d) Summer cover crops; sunflower, Sunnhemp, Babala, Dolichos beans
e) Continuation with experimentation with winter cover crops, including new species
requested by farmers (Lucerne, clover, turnips)
f) Continued support for VLSAs (Village savings and Loan associations) and small
business development training for these participants
g) Initiation of nodes for farmer centres that can offer tools, input packs and advice
Key activities: October 2018-September 2019
This season, farmers opted for different maize varieties; SC 701 in the Swayimane area as
farmers want to keep their focus of growing green mealies for marketing and PAN 53 and
Sahara in Cornfields where farmers were looking for hardy, drought resistant varieties. For
sugar beans, Gadra is well acclimatized and preferred by all farmers. Mixed brown cowpeas
were planted only in two of the areas, as farmers in the other villages were reluctant to plant a
crop that they no longer use.
The fourlearning groups in Swayimanye (New Hanover) have remained very active. Interest in
commercial maize production (green mealies) here is high due the community’s proximity to a
large town -Pietermaritzburg. Smallholder farmer groups, mainly women, have been organised
into cooperatives and are active in market gardening and field cropping.
The Cornfields (Estcourt area) focus has continued, despite the understanding both in the
community and by the facilitators that this is likelya very marginal area for maize production-
due to climatic conditions and extremely poor soils in the area. The learning group members
requested another final attempt.
Learning groups have been initiated in two new areas Appelbosch close to new Hanover and
Tabamhlope close to Estcourt. These are expansion areaswhere participants have attended
awareness raising days and requested initiation of the programme in their villages.
Innovation platform meetings and open days have not been held in the 2nd half of the season,
given time constraints due to late planting. The annual review and planning sessions with the
learning groups are presently underway and the learnings and issues from thisseason will be
discussed and included into the experimentation process for the coming season.
Results achieved to date
Sevenlearning groupshave been supported under this process. Training/learning workshops
have been conducted for the following topics:
How to implement CA:introduction to the principles, soil health, crop diversification
and different planting options for CA
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Working with herbicides and knapsack sprayers:information on different
herbicides,their uses and safety measures,as well as operation of knapsack sprayers,
protective clothing, etc.
Trial plot layout and plantingusing different CA planting equipment such as hoes,
MBLI planters, and animal drawn not till planters.
Top dressing and pest control measures for mid-season growth of crops and planting
of cover crop mixtures where people have been interested in this option
The learning groups provide the innovation platforms also for discussion of the value chain
issues, such as bulk buying, harvesting, storage and milling options and marketing.
The 2019 growing season has arguably been more challenging and somewhat confusing
compared to previous seasons. Natal Midlands, which is still relatively new compared to
Southern KZN and Bergville seems to have potential for expansion and different types of CA
experimentation processes, especially in Swayimane as the community is still quite involved in
farming. Cornfields,on the other hand has been somewhat bleak despite the participants’
persistent efforts to growmaize. It is noteworthy that most people in Cornfields have shifted to
goat and cattle farming due to the poor state of the soils in the area. The CA participants are
among the few leftwho still practice crop farming. The area has not seen any rain since
February this year. This then begs the question, how will the people survive in the next year,
five years or even ten years from now with such merciless weather conditions and virtually
lifeless soils?
The table below outlinesactivities related to objectives and key indicators for the period of
October 2018-September2019.
Table 1:SUMMARY OF PROGRESS (OCTOBER2018 - SEPTEMBER2019) 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
- Printing of hand books
and learning support
materials for groups and
individuals
- Sharing of information
through innovation
platforms processes
-Articles and promotional
material
- 1 000 copies of Individual
savings books and 50 group
savings books have been printed
(100% complete)
-Appelbosch Open Day,
(50% complete)
-None (0% complete)
Reports
- 6 monthly interim report
and final report
(100% complete)
2. Increase
the
sustainability
and efficiency
of CA systems
1st level
experimentation:
38 (33)
- 33 participants in
Tabamhlope and
Appelbosch planted 100-
400m2intercropping trials
as advised.
- Basic CA design- intercropping
with maize beans and cowpeas
on a 100m2- 400m2plot, with a
control plot managed entirely by
the participant.
Adaptation trials will include late
season planting of beans with a
mixture of winter and summer
cover crops. (100% complete)
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2nd and 3rd level
experimentation:
47 (29)
-4 participants in
Cornfields and 17 in
Swayimane planted their
400m2intercropping trials.
- Participants opted to continue
with intercropping practice from
their 1st year. (45% complete)
- Crop rotation, SCC and WCC are
included in the experimentation
in Swayimane and Cornfields
(100% complete)
Develop and
manage PM&E
framework;
weekly and
monthly M&E visits
-M&E forms redesigned
and used
- Digital monitoring system
piloted
- Monitoring of planting and crop
growth completed, yearly
reviews in progress (%75
complete)
Facilitation of
innovation
platforms
-Co-facilitation of
information sharing and
action planning with
stakeholders and role
players
- A farmers day has been held in
Appelbosch Further stakeholder
meetings with DM, UKZN and
NGOs to be held. Initiate
discussions in potential
expansion and new areas. (60%
complete)
CA working group,
and reference
group
- Planned for August 2019
A performance dashboard is indicated below. This provides a snapshot of performance
according to suggested numbers and outputs in the proposal.
Table 2: Performance Dashboard: September 2019
Outputs
Actual (Sept 2019)
Number of areas of operation
4
Number of villages active
9
No of 1st level farmer experiments
33
No of 2nd level farmer experiments
29
No of local facilitators
8
No of direct beneficiaries
70
Participatory monitoring and
evaluation process (farmer level)
Yes
Soil biological assessments
76
Innovation Platforms
3
Due to late onset of rain and high temperatures, fewer participants planted than expected. Crop
growth and yields have been average, with higher than normal incidence of pests and diseases
in the maize. Showcasing of participants’ fields and crops have thus not been done this season,
opting instead for group based seasonal reviews in each area.
The table below summarises the planned and actual farmer trial implementation for the 2018-
2019planting season. A total of 85 trial participants volunteered throughthe planning
processes across 9 villages in four areas. Eighty-two (82) of these farmers planted trials.
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Table 3 : Summary of farmer innovation numbers and areas planted per village; KZN Midlands 2018-2019
Area
Village
2016
2017
2018
Inputs for
trials
2018
Planted
Experi-
mentation
Comments; incl
planters used.
Estcourt
Cornfields
8
9
10
8 (4)
Intercropping;
PAN 53, Sahara
(yellow maize)
Gadra, Mixed
brown cowpeas
Demonstration
plot at Mr Miya’s
homestead. Last
attempt given
lack of growth for 3
years running.
Planted
2018/12/10
Nkandla
10
Greytow
n
Mpolweni
8
New
Hanover;
Swayima
ne
Mayizekanye
1
6
8
7 (5)
Intercropping:
SC701, Gadra
beans
Hand hoes and
MBLI planters
used. Planted
2019/01/08
Mayizekanye
2
9
8
7
Intercropping:
SC701, Gadra
beans
Planted
2019/01/09
Mayizekanye
3
8
9
5
Intercropping:
SC701, Gadra
beans
Hand hoes and
MBLI planters
used. Planted
2019/01/10
Gobizembe
9
12
10 (7)
Intercropping:
SC701, Gadra
beans, mixed
brown cowpeas
Very active group
members: Planted
2018/12/10
Appelbos
ch
Ozwathini
15
13 (7)
Intercropping:
SC701, Gadra
beans, mixed
brown cowpeas
Hand hoes and
MBLI planters
used. Planted
2019/01/15
Tabamhl
ophe
De Klerk,
Emdwabu
23
20 (12)
Intercropping:
PAN53 PAN148
beans, mixed
brown cowpeas
Hand hoes and
MBLI planters
used. Planted
2018/12/10
TOTAL
9
26
41
85
70(47)
Of the 85 participants who startedout this season around 82% of them planted their CA trials
and their other field croppingplots and of those who planted around 67% managed to harvest.
The above figures apply mainly to direct beneficiaries and exclude spontaneous adopters and
other indirect beneficiaries who attend meetings out of curiosity.
Climate Variability
The global buzz around climate change may seem like a myth to some as they may perhaps
argue that harsh climatic conditions have been an issue since time immemorial. However,
climate change is a lot more complex than that, and although it takes a considerable amount of
time and data to attribute persistent weather patterns to this phenomenon, experiences in these
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communities over the last couple of years have shown extreme climatic events which seem to
hit hardest among those with marginal access to resources. Conservation Agriculture (CA), in
this context the SFIP, aims to promote farmer led research and increase food security aiming to
increase farmer capacity, adaptation and resilience to ever changing climatic conditions.
Swayimane seems to be quite flexible when it comes to planting as the climatic conditions allow
for planting to commence from September until January thefollowing yearfor maize. Beans are
planted until March where after the rains stop. Despite having generally good weather, ever
rising temperatures pose a real threat to their cropping systems as they seem to go hand in
hand with high intensity, low duration rainfall. Choosing the best time to plant is becoming a
delicate balancing act where proper planning is increasingly becoming a necessity.
In 2017, Cornfields planted on the 20th of December which was said to be very late as their
normal planting time used to be November. In 2018 planting took place on the 20th of January
due to absence of rain and all the crops which germinated were scorched by the heat and
withered. The farmers planted again during the second week of February as that is when,
according to them, the first summer rains came. The crops got off to a promising start and
seemed to flourish but the yields, or rather absence thereof show otherwise.
More attention will need to be given to experimenting with different planting times and
designing planting calendars that can accommodate for weather variability as much as possible;
in addition to trying out short season maize varieties.
Overall process
As this is an existing ‘technology’ the farmer level experimentation is in essence an adaptation
trial process.
Year 1:
Experimental design is pre-defined by the researchteam (based on previous implementation in
the area in an action research process with smallholders). It includes a number of different
aspects:
Intercropping of maize, beans and cowpeas
Introduction of OPV and hybrid varieties for comparison (1 variety of maize andbeans
respectively)
Close spacing (based on Argentinean system)
Mixture of basin and row planting models
Use of no-till planters (hand held, animal drawn and tractor drawn)
Use of micro-dosing of fertilizers based on a generic recommendation from local soil
samples
Herbicides sprayed before or at planting only
Decis Forte used at planting and top dressing stage for cutworm and stalk borer
Planting of cover crops; summer and winter mixes
Experimental design includes 2 treatments; planter type (2) and intercrop (2). See the diagram
below.
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PLOT 1: Hand HoePLOT 2: Planter
Maize1, bean 1Maize2, Bean 1Maize1, bean 1Maize 2, Bean 1
Maize1, Bean 2Maize 2, Bean 2Maize 1, Bean 2Maize 2, Bean 2
PLOT 3: OR repeat plot 1 and 2PLOT 4:
Hand hoePlanterHand hoePlanter
Maize1,cowpeaMaize1,cowpea
Maize1, Dolichos
Maize1, dolichos
Maize2, CowpeaMaize 2, Cowpea
Maize2, Dolichos
Maize2, Dolichos
10m or5m
10m or 5m
Figure 1:Example of plot layouts for the 1st level farmer trials
The basic process for planting thus includes: Close spacing of tramlines (2 rows) of maize
(50cmx50cm) and legumes (20cmx10cm) intercropped, use of a variety of OPV and hybrid seed,
weed control through a combination of pre planting spraying with herbicide and manual
weeding during the planting season and pest control using Decis Forte, sprayed once at planting
and once at top dressing stage.
For the tractor drawn two row planter the layout has been adapted to incorporate both close
spacing and inter cropping. Rows are planted with the following order and spacing; Maize-50cm
-Beans-25cm-Beans-50cm Maize
Year 2:
Based on evaluation of experiment progress for year 1, includes the addition of options that
farmers choose from. Farmers also take on spraying and plot layout themselves:
A number of different OPV and hybrid varieties for maize
A number of different options for legumes (including summer cover crops)
Planting method of choice
Comparison of single crop and intercropping planting methods
Use of specific soil sample results for fertilizer recommendations
Early planting
Own choices
Year 3:
Trials are based on evaluation of experimentation process to date; to include issues of cost
benefit analysis, bulk buying for input supply, joint actions around storage, processing and
marketing. Farmers design their experiments for themselves to include some of the following
potential focus areas:
Early planting; with options to deal with more weeds and increased stalk borer
pressure.
Herbicide mix to be used pre and at planting (Round up, Dual Gold, Gramoxone)
A pest control programme to include dealing with CMR beetles
Intercropping vs crop rotation options
Spacing in single block plantings
Use of composted manure for mulching and soil improvement in combination with
fertilizer,.
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Soil sample results and specific fertilizer recommendations
Planting of dolichos and other climbing beans
Summer and winter cover crops; crop mixes, planting dates, management systems,
planting methods (furrows vs scatter)
Seed varieties; conscious decisions around POVs, hybrids and GM seeds
Cost benefit analysis of chosen options
Possible agrochemical spraying regime options
1. Roundup 2 weeks before planting-if there has been some rain. DualGold at planting
(just after with Decis Forte/Kemprin).
2. Gramoxone at planting (just before or after planting) with or without Dual Gold and
Decis Forte/Kemprin Dual Gold does not work on dry soil (followed by heavy rain)
Runoff Plots
Runoff pans were installed in SwayimaneGobizembe on the 29th of January with the aim to
measure runoff on the trial (undisturbed plot) and control (tilled plot). The runoff pans were
installed in Mrs Ngobese’s trial on the maize and bean plot as well as in the plot with amadumbe
as a control.
The small table below summarises the available data for rainfall and run-off.
Table 4: Rainfall and runoff data for the period of Feb-April 2019 for Swayimane
Date
Rainfall
Runoff ml
mm
CA trial (M+B)
Conv control (Amadumbe)
Feb-19
61
1777
3786
Mar-19
26
150
30
Apr-19
226,5
12
23,5
Ave seasonal runoff
1939
3839,5
Overall the runoff from the untilled CA plot was 50% lower than an adjacent tilled plot.The
dramatic reduction of run-off in march and April are a combination of reduced rainfall intensity
afforded by canopy cover in the plots.
Progress per area of implementation
Information from the interim report is not repeated here. Given that most of the learning groups
in the midlands plant maize very late, and potentially even later this season due to late onset of
rain (January-February), the mid- season monitoring of the growing season is included here.
Ozwathini
The team monitored thethree groups in Appelsboch/ Ozwathini, namely Swidi, Gobinsimbi and
Hlathikhulu. The Mbalenhle and Mathulini groups did not form part of the final participants who
planted. The total number of participants in Ozwathini came to fifteen, of which 80percent are
women. All the group members are above the age of 50 years old and more than half of the total
participants are pensioners.
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Participants planted the first year 400 m2 CA trials. The overall growth of the trials was good
although most participants had a challenge with stalk borer ontheir maize, which appears to be
more aggressive in the current season. As a result, during monitoring the team discovered most
of the participants had already sprayed pesticide twiceand in two cases three times asthe stalk
borer has become resistant to some of the chemicals they were using. Kemprin was the most
widely applied and has become ineffective.The team supplied Decis Forte which had better
results. Other chemicals applied include Steward, Kombat granules, Ampligo and Coragen. Other
pests identified were black aphids, beetles and grasshoppers. Ravens were also identified as an
issue in maize causing some participants to replant.
In all three groups, overall germination was good for all three crops(maize, beans and
cowpeas), although beans and cowpeas did not do well subsequently. Cowpeas in particular had
significant insect damage on leaves and in some cases the leaves were curled up and starting to
dry out. Black aphids were also quite common on cowpeasin most of the trials. The overall
appearance of beans was good although in a few of the trials the leaves were yellow with
speckles, which the farmers attributed to too much sunlight.
The majority of participants made a noteworthyeffort to keep their trials free of weeds. In
cases where no weeding was done competition was visible as the maize was yellow and had
uneven growth. Common weeds were mainly yellow nutsedge, crab grass, Bermuda grass,
fleabane, gallant soldier andpigweed amongst others. Generally, the weeds were a combination
of broadleaf and grass species. Table 5on the following page gives a summary of the
participants and their CA trials.
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No NameSurnameM/F Age
Employment
Status
Yrs
sizeof
trialPlanterPlot 1Plot 2Plot3Plot 4Weeds Pests
presence of
pest at the
day of
Maize BeansCowpeas
1Martina
XuluF 64 Pensioner1400m2hand hoem+bm+cm+bm+c0-5%stalkboreryes98% 80%80%
2 Khithi
ZondiF 74 Pensioner1400m2hand hoem+bm+cm+bm+c0-5%
stalkborer, aphids,
CMR beetles,locusts
yes 95% 90%85%
3DollyLydia
Mwelase F55 Unemployed1400m2hand hoem+bm+bm+cm+c
nutsegde, crab grass,
dandelion,gallant
soldier
Stalkborer, grass
hoppers
yes 95% 95%95%
4
Aaron
Khethezakhe
Nkomo M60 Unemployed1400m2hand hoem+bm+cm+bm+c0-5%stalkboer yes98% 95%90%
5 Ndabenkulu
MyezaM 66 SelfEmployed1400m2hand hoem+bm+bm+cm+c0-5%nonepresentno 95% 90%90%
1 ThembeniMkhizeF67 Pensioner1100m2hand hoem+b0-5%
nonepresentno 100% 100%
2Philisiwe ZondoF57 Unemployed1400m2hand hoem+bm+cm+bm+c
(crab grass,
nutsedge, gallant
soldier)
stalkboreryes 95% 95%95%
3 NathanielZondiM71 Unemployed1400m2hand hoem+bm+cno
stalkboreryes85% 80%85%
4Bobo MchunuMUnemployed1
5 AmosZondiM65 Pensioner 1
1Ntomi JoiceMakhobaF72 Selfemployed1400m2hand hoem+bm+bm+bm+c0-5%
nonepresentno 95% 90%90%
2Thobile SollyHlopheF56 SelfEmployed1400m2hand hoem+bm+bm+bm+c0-5%
nonepresentno 90% 90%90%
3Delta JabulileBhenguF66 Self Employed1400m2hand hoem+bm+cm+bm+c
creeping sorrel, crab
grass, pig weed,
couch grass,
bermuda grass,
stalkborer,
grasshoppers,
beetles, black
aphids, cutworm
yes 95% 85%60%
4Sibongile MMkhlongoF77 self employed11000m2hand hoem+bm+cm+bm+c0-5%
stalkborer yes90% 85%85%
m+bm+c m+bm+c
5NcengeniDorisChamaneF55 self employed1400m2hand hoem+bm+cm+bm+c0-5%
stalkborer yes95% 80%80%
Gobinsimbi
DID NOT PLANT
DID NOT PLANT
PERSONAL INFORMATION
TRIAL LAYOUT
ISSUES
GERMINATION %
Appelsboch (Swede)
Hlathikhulu
Table 5: Growth monitoring information for Ozwathini; 2018-2019 (e-surveys)
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Appelbosch/ Ozawathini - Swidi Group
Aaron Khethezakhe Nkomo is a 60 year old unemployed male who lives with his wife and
grandchildren.He does not receive a pension grant as there were complications with his
identity document, his wife is the sole breadwinner. He derives some income from farming as he
normally supplies vendors who come to the area to purchase maize. He planted his CA
experiment in the last week of January and the trial appeared to be growing well and he planted
the control a week after (see figure 2below). His main challenge in terms of pests was
stalkborer; he sprayed Kemprin and Decis Forte to control it. A more pressing issue was his soil
condition as the field used to produce very good crops but this year he was not confident this
would be the case. Erosion of the top soil was suspected to be the primary cause of the
reduction in soil fertility. The control maize seemed to be worse off as there were patches where
there was no germination and he had toreplant. Most of the maize inthe control had purple
leavesindicating a phosphorous deficiency. A similar scenario was seen in some parts of the
trial plot although to a lesser degree. Mr Nokomo noted that intercropping provided much more
biomass and could be a solution to the soil issue as a lot of soil gets washed away when it rains
due to the steep slopes of the area.
Figure 2: Left: Aaron’s CA trial with a good stand of maize, beans and cowpeas. Right: Aaron’s control plot. Here the
run-off is more obvious and the germination and growth of the maize were not as good as the CA plot.
Ndabenkulu Myezastrial showed the effects of run-off as well.The trial was planted in a field
below his sole maize crop. The control maize was planted in Novemberand had already reached
tasselling stage(in March, when the photos below were taken). The M+B intercropped plot
showed marked yellowing when compared to the M+CP plot
15
Figure 3: Run-off and yellowing in the maize and bean plots, compared to the maize and cowpea plot
Dolly Mvelase is a 55 year old female who farms mainly for
food production. She had similar problems as the
participant above, where she did not manage to do her
weeding on time and laos had a high infestation of stalk
borer, for which she was provided Decis Forte, given that
the Kemprin used most often in the area, was ineffective.
Figure 4: Mrs Mvelase spraying Deci Forte for a stalk borer outbreak on
her maize.
Khithi Zondi’s trial got off to a promising start but at four
weeks the maize started to turn yellow and showed
significant damage fromstalk borer.The legumes also
showed signs of stress and infestedwithaphids and beetles.
Mrs Zondi did not follow the recommended close spacing
and thus hada lot of bare soil in between her cropswhich led to run-off and erosion issues in
her fields. One of the outcomes of this was that LAN applied as top dressing was washed away.
The control maize plot had poor ground cover due to patchy germination of maize. It appeared
that years of mechanical tilling had caused a considerable amount of soil degradation.
16
Figure 6: Left and center; Mrs Chamane’s CA Trial maize and bean/cowpea intercropand Right, the control plot
Ozwathini - Gobinsimbi
Ncengeni Chamane is a 55 year-old female who supports her family through farming. She
supplies the informal market with a range of crops including maize, Ukulinga beans, amadumbe
and cabbage among others. Thetrial demonstration was carried out at her household. The
overall appearance of the trial was good and the maize and legumes had formed a canopy cover,
but the beans had slight yellowing of leaves. The control plot was also planted using CA.
Figure 5: Above Left to right: Mrs Zondi’s trial plot with yellowing maize, her conventional control plot showing run-off
damage and cowpeas with leaf damage from beetles and aphids.
Sbongile Mhongo planted a 1000 m2trial of maize and beans/maize and cowpeas. The trial was
looking good, however two out of the ten plots had patchy germination for both maize and
beans. According to Sibongile the maize was eaten by crowsbut it was not clear why the beans
did not germinate. Her maize did not appear to be affected by stalk borer as much as the other
participants as she sprayed early Kemprin to control the outbreak. The control plot did not look
good and had many patches, the soil was mostly bare as there was insufficient ground cover.
17
Figure 7: Delisile Bhengu’s CA Trial maize and bean (left), maize and cowpea (center), control plot (right
Figure 8: Mrs Makhoba’s CA trial plot
DelisileBhengu is a 66 year -old farmer and grows maize for household consumption and
selling surplus. There was a significant difference in appearance between the maize /bean and
maize/cowpea plots, where maize and cowpeas was yellow compared to maize and beans which
was green. Thecowpeas also had curled leaves that seemed to be drying out and thus had not
formed a ground cover in between the maize. The maize on the control plot was yellow due to a
high number of weeds.
Ntombi Makhoba planted her trial in the last week of January. She planted three plots of beans
and one plot of cowpeas asshe was not convinced the cowpea would germinate. Her trial
appeared to be growing very well and although there was stalk borer, the damage was not
extensive. Thebeans and cowpeas had formed a good canopycover and there were minimal
weeds.
Cover crops were distributed in the first and second weeksof March;the wintermaster mix
which includes Saia Oats, fodder radish and fodder peas to two out of the three groups
(Gobinsimbi and Swidi),to plant in between the maize where beans have been harvested and
where there is a lot of bare soil. Participants however did not plant these
18
Figure 9: Nomusa Shandu Trial (left), Control (right)
Swayimane
In this area, the CA experimentation process generally went well and the CA trial plots produced
good results. Overall germination was good as itwas above 85 percent for both maize and
legumes. Most trials did not have a high percentage of weeds as the farmers are generally
meticulous when it comes to weeding. With regards to plant spacing, many participants had
used a wider spacing than the recommended 50 cm and 25 cm inter row spacing for maize and
beans. The farmers are used to using large plant spacing of up to a metre in between rows for
maize as they believe that if the plants are too close together it will negatively affect the size and
quality of the cob. Their soils are starting to show signs of degradation due to years of erosion as
a result of ploughing and leaving large portions of soil bare. CA is a concept that the farmers are
still grappling with, although they are familiar with the concept of intercropping maize with
leguminous crops, many still believe ploughing is a necessity
Mayizekanye Group 1
Nomusa Shandu who is in her 2nd seasons of Ca experimentation, lives with her daughter and
four grandchildren. The family survives on child support grants and farming maize, potatoes
and taros(amadumbe). Mrs Shandu planted her trial in February2019. Although the trial
(bottom left picture) appears to be growing well, the spacing between rows is twice the
recommended spacing. The MDF team gave her winter cover crops to plant between the spaces
in order to ensure maximum cover.
Thepicture on the right is her control plot which is not doing well. Therewere many large gaps
in between the maize due to patchy germination, and generally the stalks appeared thin with
purple and yellow leaves. Mrs Shandu’sfield is on a steep slope henceploughing has removed
most of the top soil leaving a less fertile subsoil and subsequent reduced productivity.
Lungile Phungula, a 48 year-old participants wholives with her husband and childandmainly
grows maize, beans and amadumbe for household consumption, is also in her 2nd season of CA
experimentation. Last season, her CA plot performed very poorly, when compared to growth
19
Figure 10: Layout of trial (left), WCC in between maize (center), Gadra bean (right)
and production this season. She attributes the change to incorporating lime this season and also
in using her more preferred maize variety (SC701), which she believes is better adapted to the
area. This season she also altered her planting method slightly by first planting beans and then
planting maize just over a week later in order to give the beans a kick start, which turned out to
be a winning formula. She was very pleased with the results and said she plans on continuing
this way in the future. The MDF team gave her the Wintermaster mix which she planted in
between the maize as shown in the pictures below.
Eunice Maphumulo’s trial did welland both maize and beans were growing vigorously. She
planted three plots of maize and beans and one plot of maize and cowpeas. Germination for
beans however, was very patchy in some plots and she planted winter cover crops in the spaces
where the beans did not germinate to help create soil cover.
Figure 11: Left, Mrs Maphumulo;s CA intercropped maize and bean plot and right, winter cover crops relay cropped in
between the maize
Fikelephi Maphumulo is a 52-yearold lady who is unemployed and lives with her five children.
She planted two 200 m2plots of maize only and beans only and did not plant cowpeas. This
season she separated the maize and beans as she felt intercropping had an adverse effect on
beans after obtaining a poor yield for beans in the previous growing season. This season
20
Figure 12: Fikielephi Maphumulo (left), maize plot (center), bean plot, (right)
Figure 13: MaNene Mkhize's trial (left), own experiment, m+b in same row (center), cowpeas sole plot from saved
seed (right)
however was not much better, with beans rotting towards the end of the season due to high
rainfall in early March.
Her field isalso on quite a steep slope and like Nomusa Shandu she has started experiencing
problems with her maize crop on her control plot. Again,due to years of ploughing and leaving
large patches of bare soil, erosion has washed away a lot of the top soil. Furthermore, she plants
the same crop in the same field using the same method season after season.She relay cropped
winter cover crops into her CA maize plots to reduce the erosion, as she noticed other
participants in the area doing this, which provided for better soil cover in her plots towards the
end of the season.
Mayizekanye 2
Thembi Nene Mkhize was probably the biggest critic of CA in the previous growing season who
was not shy to say she planted simply out of curiosity but she knows her traditional planting
methods are far better. This growing season she planted againand her trial was growing very
well, except the one plot of maize and beans which had a yellowish appearance compared to the
other plots. She also planted cowpeas using seed she had saved from last year’s trial as a sole
crop as she wanted to see how it would turn out if not intercropped with maize. In a separate
field she planted 100 m2of left-over maize and bean seed, but instead of separating the maize
and bean rows, she planted the maize and beans in the same rows.
21
Qondeni Bhengu isalso a 2nd yearparticipant who decided to intercrop single rows, rather than
the tramlines suggested. Her trial grewwell for both maize and beans but she did have a slight
issue with stalk borer. There were no weeds in the trial at the time of monitoring.
Fikile Maphumulo is an enthusiastic
farmer who grows maize, beans,
amadumbe and vegetables to
support herself and her family. She
is also in the program for a second
season and planted both maize and
beans and maize and cowpeas. Her
trial looked beautiful, especially the
maize and cowpea plots which had
formed a full canopy. Thebeans
were lagging slightlybehind but
were also growing well. No pests
were identified on the day of
monitoring and there was no presence of stalk borer and very few weeds.
Figure 14: Left, Mrs Maphumulos m+b intercrop, center m+cp growing very well
Mayizekanye 3
Dumazile Nxusa and her sisters, Khonzephi and Ntombiplanted a trial of 1200 m2 of maize and
beans and maize and cowpeas
together. This season, their trial did
not look good as they had problems
with crows and rats eating the seed
and also with browsing bybuck.
Cowpeas however grew well, as
these were not preferred by the
buck. As a result, they did not tend
their plots well andweeding was
done late.They have decided to
move their field closer to their
homestead in future.
Figure 157: Left, the Nxusa’s m + cp CA trail plot and Right , one of her m + b plots.
Babhekile Nene is a hard working farmer who lives with her husband, daughter and three
grandchildren. She also farms mainly
to support herself and her family and
grows primarily maize, beans and
potatoes. Her trial He CA trial plot
have done well in both seasons.
However, the maize intercropped
with beans was yellow and shorter
than the maize intercropped with
cowpea. The maize and bean plot, was
situated on the upper part of the field
22
which more likely has leached soils.
Figure 16:Left, Mrs Nene’s m + cp CA trial plot and Right , one of the m + b plots.
Ntombikhona Mchunu is another
participant that had a disastrous
first season. She did not obtain
any yields, which left her feeling
hopeless. This season, she moved
her cropping to a different fields
and results are more promising.
She reverted to the wider spacing
more common in the area, as well
as monocropping of cowpeas, as
she thought they would compete
with her maize.
Figure 17: Left, Mrs Mchunu’s cp CA trial
plot and Right , one of the m + b plots. Runoff in this plot is visible wide spacing and clearing of the ground during
weeding did not help
Cornfields
Cornfields has been a very challenging area to workin. The area is characterized by very poor-
quality soils that are shallow, rocky and light greyish in colour. The area also has many dongas
due to erosion which seemsto be getting worse each year. Nevertheless,a handful of farmers
have persevered and are determined to improve their situation.
The season started off on a seemingly hopeless note as rains took even longer to come this
season. In 2017/18, planting was done in December and the rains came on 20 January 2018,
however this season planting took placein late January and the rains only came at the end of
February when everyone had lost hope. In a courageous effort to take advantage of the late
rains, most of the farmers replanted where the maize had initially dried out and their leap of
faith has seemingly paid off as their trials appear to be performing better than in the first and
second seasons.
Progress
During the review meetings in 2018 the following resolutions were made:
RESOLUTIONS (2018)
PROGRESS (2019)
Trials:
Mr Mya, Mr Xaba and Mr Khumalo want to
increase their trials to 1000 m2in the
upcoming season. It was agreed that on the
bigger trials, the two row planter would be
used during planting and those going on to
their third year of CA will be required to pay
input subsidies.
Mr Miya increased the size of his trial to
1000 m2but Mr Xaba continued to plant the
400 m2trial.
During the planting demo, the haracca
planter was used to plant cover crops and
lab lab and the rest of the trial was planted
by hand.
None of the participants have paid inputs
subsidies
23
Figure 18: Left and Right, Fisokuhle Ngcobo maize and bean intercrop. The younger maize in the foreground was
replanted in March
Intercropping:
The team has agreed to introduce summer
cover crops to be intercropped with maize
at planting and also carry on with the maize
and bean intercrop in order to see if there
won’t be an improvement in the soil.
Summer cover crops including sunflower,
sunnhemp and millet were planted during
the planting demo at Mr Miya’s house and
the rest of the participants will plant them
this upcoming season
Seed Varieties:
There was a request from the farmers for
yellow maize as it has a wider range of uses
(also used as poultry feed) and is more
marketable than white maize.
Both white and yellow maize seed was
brought to farmers and they took their
preferred variety. Mr Xaba took yellow
maize and the rest of the participants
planted white maize.
Soil samples:
Collection of soil samples is one of the first
things to be done in the upcoming season.
Soil samples were collected in previous
season but could not be utilized as the
sampling method was not correct.
Soil samples were collected for all
participants in 2018 and according to the
results none of them have issues with
acidity, which was previously suspected to
be the cause of poor yield. Issues related to
yield seem to be more related to drought
and poor soil fertility.
Fisokuhle Ngcobo has been planting using CA since 2017 and is now in her 3rd season. She, like
the rest of the farmers planted in January and the maize dried out dueto the heat. She replanted
in February and March when the rains came and got a much better result. For the first time in
the three years her trial is looking good, the maize was dark green and the beans were growing
well. She did not plant cowpeas. Her only concern was how big the cobs will turn out as it as it is
already late in the season and the maize is still short.
24
Shintshile Mbatha also joined the program in 2017. Shehas a small 200 m2tCA trial. She did not
plant beans this year, due to the excessive heat
Florence Cebekhulu is in the program for a second season. She is a hard working farmer who
lives with her children and supports herself through social grants and farming. Her trial was not
looking good, as there were many weeds, the maize was light green and did not have uniform
height and the beans had very low germination. Cowpeas germinated well but due to
overgrowth of weeds
were not doing very
well and had not
formed canopy
cover. She said she
did not bother to
weed as shedid not
think anything would
grow but can now
see that there is
some progress.
Figure 19: Mrs
Cebekhulu’s CA trial plots;
better growth is for crops
replanted at the end of
February.
Mbuso Mkhize is afarmer who has been persistent from the beginning. Like Fisokuhle Ngcobo,
he has been resilient and has bounced back despite many setbacks. He believes CA hashelped
him a lot in terms of improving his productivity and there has been some improvement every
year. This year he almost gave up at the beginning, but also replanted, with better results.
Figure 80: Mr Mkhize’s CA trial plots. Patchy germination is evident as are weeds, but growth has been reasonable.
Right: Infestaiton of maize with a hairy caterpillar that feeds on the green cobs,was common in the rea this season.
Mdungeni Miya is a third year participant who extended his trial to 1000 m2. Planting took place
in January and he plantedmaize, beans, cowpeas, and lablab and summer cover crops. His trial
failed miserably due to the heat and lack of weeding. Even the cover crops were not doing well,
except for sunhemp which seemed completely immune to the adverse conditions. Millet also has
very good germination but was uneven in growth. Sunflower seemed to be the worst hit by the
25
Figure 21: Left, Mr Miya’s CA trial plot with stressed maize. Right, millet and sunnhemp survived the adverse
weather conditions quite well
drought and was hardly visible except for two or three plants. The rains did not seem to help Mr
Miya’s trial much, as his maize was thin and frail, and tasselled prematurely. The rest of the
plots were hardly identifiable as there was nothing but weeds.
etros Khumalo is a third year participant who enjoys farming and works in partnership with his
wife. This season she assisted him in planting the trial and decided to plant the maize together
with beans and butternuts in between as a way to create soil coverand hold moisture. The trial
grew exceptionally well and it was interesting to see that there was no competition between the
beans and butternuts as both were thriving. The maize was also growing very well.. Next to the
trial Mrs Khumalo also planted sweet potatoes and beans. It was great to see someone who
really understands the concept of diversification and intercropping. She is an example of
someone who implemented all three principles of CA, minimum soil disturbance, permanent
soil cover and crop diversification.
Figure 22: Left, Mrs Khumalo's CA trial bean,butternut and maize intercrop and Right, a butternut fruiting.
26
Ntabamhlope
This area was primarily managed by Lima staff members, as they are a partner in the
implementation process. CA has been introduced here as one option in a suite of climate
resilient agriculture practices.
Ntabamhlophe participants have completed their first year of CA experimentation. Thegroup of
20 participantsintercropped maize and beans on 100m2 plots as their first trial. All the
participants planted late,between the 15th and 18th of December 2018. This season was very dry
until early January and was characterised by heavy rainfall towards the end of season (March
and April) with late and heavy rains. This affected the maize yield with some of the participants’
maize rotting.
However, most of the participants shared that the maize cobs were generally of good quality
with a few exceptions were the maize was affected by stalk borer and rot. Low maize yields
were mostly due to livestock invasion in the fields. This is an issue in the community, where
cattle are released back into the village prior to people being able to harvest their maize and is a
trend in the whole region. As grazing for cattle isdiminished through a combination of climate
variability and lack of grazing management, the traditional authorities allow the cattle back into
the villages earlier; jeopardising harvests for those villagers who have produced crops.
Below are a few small cases for yield measurements for individual participants.
CineleleSibiya has naturally assumed the role of local facilitator by visiting the trial plots of
other farmers in the learning group to monitor crop growth. As this was their first year, they
were not sure whether the maizewould grow and produce any yield. She shared this because
she has shallow sandy soil with
hard rock that does not favour
good crop growth.
She was happy with the ‘good
lines formedandwassatisfied
with maize cobs sizes. She
thinks the MAP (33) fertilizer
and lime used had a great impact
on the 41.607 kg yield
(~4,7t/ha) she harvested this
season and wants to continue on
with the programmenext
season.
Figure 9: Mrs Sibiya showing the quality
of maize cobs she harvested
Robert Gabuza frms with his wife
and they recorded the follwoign
27
yields for their trial, which they were more than satisfied with:
Maize = 53.258 kg (~6,08t/ha)
Beans = 5 litres (~0,7t/ha)
Figure 24:Robert Gabuza’s wife with the samples from his harvest.
Sibongile Zuma is a young farmer in the area. Sibongile’s plot was invaded by cattle and her
yields of both maize and beans were greatly reduced:
Beans = 1.850 kg (~0,054t/ha)
Maize = 18.520 kg (~2,1t/ha)
Figure 105: Sibongile showing a portion of her bean yield
Two other participantswhose yields were monitored; Vusi
Nkabinde (~0,7t/ha of beans), Thembi Xaba (~1,4t/ha beans and
2,3t/ha maize) shared that their yields were low due to cattle
invasions. They also felt that their cobs were a bit small and under-
developed and believed that this was due to the late planting. They
all felt that it would be important for them to continue their
experimentation with CA, as their harvests were nevertheless
better than before and they appreciate the idea that benefits from
improving soil health and organic matter would take a few seasons
to be seen.
Way forward
Being introduced to an existing group was beneficial because the participants were already
working together and identify themselves as part of acollective. There is potential to reach
other farmers in the communities who are grain crop farmers including those producing soya
beans. The partnership with LIMA RDF has been effective in introducing CA into the thinking of
the learning groups there, but more effort needs tobe put in engaging our partners throughout
the experimentation phase.
The season - in summary
Participants in the Midlands planted from the 15th of January to mid-February; which is
when the rains finally started. A number of participants had to re-plant due to initial lack
of germination.
This season has been characterized by very high temperatures and late summer rainfalls
which the farmers believe contributed to the outbreaks of stalk borer, both in
Gobizembe and Appelbosch areas. Mayizekanye (3villages in Swayimane) experienced
much lower levels of stalk borer infestation. Reasons for this will need to be discussed
with the learning group members, as build-up of stalk borer populations is related to
cropping practices and management.
This season a different Mazie variety, SC701 was used in Swayimane upon request from
the participants.
Due to the low performance of beans last season, some participants opted to plant
mono-cropped plots of beans and cowpeas. The performance of these plots wasn’t
markedly different from the intercropped plots (as expected by the facilitation team).
28
Run-off is somewhat of an issue in these Midlands sites; exacerbated in ‘difficult’
seasons, as the early canopy cover afforded by the close planting regimes does not
happen; leading to high weed pressure and or bare soils susceptible to erosion.
Relay cropping of the winter cover crops worked reasonably well this season
A number of participants included their own variations in the experimentation process;
one planting beans two weeks prior to maize- which worked very well; a few reverted to
the wider spacing and mono-cropping more familiar in the area, with negative results in
growth and much higher run-off and others used one row intercrops and included other
crops such as butternuts. Although, it is more difficult to monitor these high varied plot
layouts, it is considered a very positive sign that participants areundertaking their own
experimentation and learning from these exercises.
Maize Yields
Maize yields for this season turned out slightly better than expected although two out of the five
areas (that planted for a second season) experienced a dramatic drop in total yield. Gobizembe
and two out of the three groups in Mayizekanye saw an improvement in total yield with some
participants having managed to sell green mealies to local van traders. Mayizekanye 3 (Mrs
Nxusa’s group) saw the sharpest drop in yield out of the three Mayizekanye groups as most
people’s trials did not do well. The overall averagedyield for the group was 4,1 t/ha. Cornfields
is another group which also saw a dramatic drop in yield. Around 50%of the participants
obtained zero yield and only Mr Miyaseemed to have promising results, with a yield of 1,955
t/ha. Mr Miya managed to get a yield as he replanted towards the end of February. Thefigure
below shows the difference in total yields amongst second year participants for the 2017/18
and 2018/19 growing seasons.
Figure 26: Total maize yields for Midlands participants for 2017/18 and 2018/19
29
Changes in Yield Distribution in the 2018 and 2019 Growing Seasons
This season has not gone very well in most areas with most farmers lamenting over either a
reduction in yield or poor performance at the market, however it was good to see some
increases in yields among the groups that were planting for a second season. The benchmark
normally used to measure how well farmers are doing in terms of yield is calculating the yield
required for them to break even which comes to 4 t/ha. Most smallholder farmers obtain much
lower yields of 1 to 2 t/ha. Below is a small table summarising the average maize yields across
the two seasons. The average yield across the villages has remained constant at around 1,8t/ha.
Yields for Cornfields and Mayizekanye 1 and 2 increased slightly between the seasons.
Table 6: Yield averages for Midlands in the 2017/18 and 2018/19 cropping seasons
Area
2017/18
2018/19
Trial (t/ha)
Trial (t/ha)
Cornfields
2,0
2,2
Mayizekanye 1
1,2
1,5
Mayizekanye 2
1,0
2,8
Mayizekanye 3
3,2
1,2
Gobizembe
1,6
Ozwathini
1,3
Average yield (t/ha)
1,8
1,8
Note 1: Yields were not measured in Gobizembe this season, as yields were too low.
Note 2: Control yields are very difficult to assess. Farmers do not keep records and often eat this maize green.
Percentage increase/reduction was calculated for the three groups in Mayizekanye as well as
Gobizembe as all these were returning groups. In 2017-18, 47 % of the participants achieved a
yield between 0-1.5 t/ha and in 2018/19 the percentage of farmers in the same range increased
to 56%. The percentage of farmers between the range of 1.5-2.5 t/ha decreased from 32% in
2018 to 18% in 2019. The third range of 2.5. t/ha to 4 t/ha saw a further decrease from 22% in
2018 to 10% in 2019 and the highest range of 5-7.5 t/ha also saw a reduction in percentage of
11% in 2018 to 4% in 2019. This data clearly depicts the reduction in yield for the 2018/19
season for the majority of participants, losses due to variable weather conditions and associated
stresses such as livestock invasion, increased pest attacks and increased presence of cob rots.
However, from the pie chart
below, it can however be seen
that around 26% of participants
did in fact produce enough maize
to break even (the ~4t/ha
threshold), despite the harsh
conditions
Figure 27: Pie chart depicting the range of yields for Swayimane participants; 2018/19
30
Figure 28: Right, Ntombencane Gasa who got a very low
yield of 0.324 t/ha. Maize had very small cobs and half
of it went rotten
Figure 30: Right, Rita Ngobese trial maize (left),
control maize (right). Her yield as around 1,2t/ha
for her CA trial and 2,4t/ha for her control
Figure 29: Above, Khombisile Mncanyana's Maize.
Her yield was 3.02 t/ha
Gobizembe
Gobizembe participants saw an improvement in overall yield although only 70 percent of the
participants managed to harvest. Most of the farmers said that the maize quality was also much
better than in the previous season. However overall yields were still generally low, with the
highest yield reaching only 3 t/ha and the lowest being 0.3 t/ha. For 2019, the group changed
from PAN 53 to SC701, a more locally adapted variety.
Gobizembe Maize Yields
Name
Surname
Experiment
No of
bags
% Grain
weight
Grain
weight
(kg)
weight
(t/ha)
Ntombiyomuntu
Ngobese
Trial
3
0,846
36,341
1,211
CONTROL
Control
6
0,799
46,381
2,319
Janet Ntombencane
Gasa
Trial
5
0,169
6,483
0,324
CONTROL
Control
1
0,169
0,745
0,037
Lindiwe
Zondi
Trial
1,5
0,859
23,187
0,773
Busisiwe
Khoza
Trial
0
0,000
0,000
0,000
Khwezi
Majola
Trial
4
0,799
43,506
1,450
Khanyisile
Xasibe
Trial
0
0,000
0,000
0,000
Wandile
Shabalala
Trial
0
0,000
0,000
0,000
Thanda
Sithole
Trial
4
0,764
46,800
1,560
Khombisile
Mncanyana
Trial
8
0,850
90,353
3,012
Simephi
Choncho
Trial
1
0,803
9,693
0,323
Total
10,973
Average Yield
1,829
31
Mayizekanye 1 (Nomusa Shandu’s group)
Mrs Nomusa Shandu’s group also had an improved overall yield and some participants also
managed to sell to local vendors. Lungile Phungula obtained the highest yield of 3 t/ha and
Fikelephi Maphumulo had the lowest yield. In terms of sales,the farmers made between R150-
R360 from their trial maize and between R240-R1 500 from their control plots. The farmers sell
green mealies to local vendors/van traders every year in dozens at a costof R25-R35 per
dozen. Some participants had an issue with maize going rotten either in the field or in storage
due to excessive rainfall.
Mayizekanye 2 (Thembi Mkhize’s group)
Thembi Mkhize’s group also experienced an improvement in overall yield The highest yield for
the groupwas 4, 645 t/ha from Fikile Maphumulo’s trial and the lowest was 0,989t/hafrom
Nakeni Ngubane’s trial. Farmers pointed out that overall yields were much better despite initial
fears that the maize would not perform well due to theexcessive heat in January.
MAYIZEKANYE 2
Name
Surname
Experiment
Number
of bags
weight
(t/ha)
Qty
(dozen)
Price
Total
Qondeni
Bhengu
Trial
0
0,000
0
R0,00
R0,00
Thembi
Mkhize
Trial
5
2,725
5
R35,00
R175,00
Mambedu
Ndlela
Trial
6
2,808
0
R0,00
R0,00
Fikelephi
Maphumulo
Trial
7
4,645
0
R0,00
R0,00
Nakeni
Ngubane
Trial
3
0,989
0
R0,00
R0,00
TOTAL
11,167
Total sales
R175,00
Average Yield
2,792
Mayizekanye 3 (Dumazile Nxusa’s Group)
Dumazile Nxusa’s group had the lowest yields compared tothe other threegroups,as some
participants reverted back to their old way of planting and the trials that were planted did not
perform as well as expected save for Babhekile Nene’s trial. The group however did still manage
to make some income with Babhekile Nene having made some profit from her own fields but did
not disclose how much and Mrs Nxusa made R 1380 from the trial and R 2820 from the control.
MAYIZEKANYE 1 MAIZE YIELDS
Total Income from Maize
Name
Surname
Grain
weight kg)
weight
(t/ha)
Qty(dozen)
Price
Total
Nomusa
Shandu
52,232
2,176
5
R30,00
R150,00
130,579
2,176
8
R30,00
R240,00
Eunice
Maphumulo
27,457
1,144
5
R30,00
R150,00
Fikelephi
Maphumulo
7,387
0,369
0
R30,00
R0,00
Ntombi
Shandu
60,115
2,004
15
R30,00
R450,00
Lungile
Phungula
60,207
3,010
12
R30,00
R360,00
50
R30,00
R1 500,00
TOTAL
8,704
Total sales
R2 850,00
Average Yield
1,45
32
Figure 31: Right, Babhekile Nene's maize harvest. Some of
her maize was still slightly wet, she obtained an estimated
yield of 3.225 t/ha
Figure 32: Right, Eunice Maphumulo's maize
trial. She got a yield of 1.44 t/ha
The maize and cowpea plot from the trial was the only one which produced a good yield with
the other plots having only a few maize plants reaching maturity.
MAYIZEKANYE 3 MAIZE YIELDS
Total sales
Name
Surname
Experiment
No
of
bags
% Grain
weight
Grain
weight
(kg)
weight
(t/ha)
Qty
(dozen)
Price
Total
Babhekile
Nene
Trial
5
0,789
77,398
3,225
0
R0,00
R0,00
Agnes
Gabela
Trial
0
0,000
0,000
0,000
0
R0,00
R0,00
Mzenkosi
Maphumulo
Trial
0
0,000
0,000
0,000
0
R0,00
R0,00
Dumazile
Nxusa
Trial
0
0,000
0,000
0,000
46
R30,00
R1 380,00
Dumazile
Nxusa
Control
7
0,819
112,494
0,865
94
R30,00
R2 820,00
TOTAL
4,090
Total
sales
R4 200,00
Average Yield
1,226
Ozwathini
Ozwathini fared quite badly when it
comes total maize yields for both the
trials and their own plots. They also
experienced the same fate as the
Swayimane groups with regard to market and some have found themselves doubting if they will
plant in the upcoming season. Their biggest challenge this year has been the overall size of the
maize cobs which were smaller than usual.
This, they attributed to excessive heat and planting late. More than 80% of the farmers said that
if they had planted earlier they would have experienced better results but had opted for the 15th
33
Figure 33: (Clockwise from
top, 1. Mrs Mhlongo's maize,
2. Mrs Zondi's s maize, 3.
Mrs Chamane’s maize
of January as they were busy with their own fields inDecember but still wanted to experiment
with CA. For the trials, the highest yield obtained was 2. 396 t/ha and the lowest was 0.747 t/ha.
A total of 8 out of the 13 participants who planted managed to get a yield, although some had
already sold or used all their trial maize when team visited them for weighing. Income accrued
from trial plots ranged between R 210 and R 990 and for their control plots that amount was
triple and even quadruple that as their own fields are much larger in size.
Ozwathini Maize Yields
Total sales
Appelsboch
(Swidi
Name
Surname
weight
(t/ha)
No of
dozens
Price
( R )
Total
Khithi
Zondi
0,008
4
30
R120,00
Ndabenkulu
Myeza
1,728
7
30
R210,00
Hlathikhulu
Thembeni
Mkhize
0,000
2
120
R240,00
Gobinsimbi
Ntombi Joice
Makhoba
0,000
33
30
R990,00
Thobile Solly
Hlophe
0,000
24
25
R600,00
Delta Jabulile
Bhengu
0,747
0
R0,00
Sibongile M
Mhlongo
2,396
0
R0,00
Ncengeni
Doris
Chamane
0,000
25
30
R750,00
TOTAL
R2 910,00
34
Challenges with Maize Market
Most of the farmers were quite disappointed as they had to drop their price/dozen from R 35 to
R 30 and even R 25 per dozen for some as a new competitor has now risen in the form of a
commercial farmer from Richmond. The smallholder farming sector in Swayimane has survived
by taking advantage of the gap in planting times after they previously had challenges with
commercial farmers dominating the market. They planted in January as most commercial
farmers plant around October and November, however this year, a commercial farmer from
Richmond area decided to plant in January and sold his maize at R 20/dozen which proved quite
detrimental to smallholder farmers.
Mrs Nxusa’s group even commented that they used to make up to R 22 000 from their maize
fields but this year they only managed around 40 percent of that amount. Other farmers
expressed fears of not having enough money to purchase inputs in the upcoming season as they
use the income from green mealies to purchase inputs. Also, although the maize yields
somewhat increased, the quality left the van traders wanting ,as manycomplained that the cob
sizes were smaller than usual or smaller than those of the commercial farmer. Some farmers
ended up giving the maize to neighbours and leaving it in the field for people who normally
come to pick what’s left over after the farmers have sold the best maize.
The income for maize ranged from R 150 to R 1380 from the maize trials. A total of 12 farmers
were willingto share how much they sold with a few being slightly more conservative and
others having made no sales due to the size and quality of maize not meeting the required
standard. Out of the 12 farmers, 42% accrued between R150 and R300 and 33% made between
R 301and R 600. Thehighest range was between R 901 and R 1400 with 17% of the farmers
reaching this level.
Figure 34: Income from maize yields for Midlands learning groups; 2018/19
35
Cornfields
Cornfields has been quite challenging to work in although there have been some few instances
where things seemed like they were looking up. Maize yields for this season were very similar
to those in the 2017/18 seasonat 2,0 and 2,2t/ha respectively. Mbuso Mkhize, our most
consistent farmer who had steady increases in yield over the years got zero yield this year both
in his trial and his own field. For the first time the family has to purchase maize meal and beans
this year as they had previously acquired these from their CA trial which sustained them for up
to three months.
Cornfields MAIZE YIELDS
Name
Surname
Experiment
Number
of bags
Grain
weight
(kg)
area
(m2)
Weight
(t)
weight
(t/ha)
Zakhe
Xaba
Trial
5,5
106,857
300
0,107
3,562
Fisani
Ngcobo
Trial
2
11,216
200
0,011
0,561
Gwaja
Khumalo
Trial
2
38,589
300
0,039
1,286
Florence
Luthuli
Trial
4
62,804
300
0,063
2,093
Shintshile
Mbatha
Trial
1
26,689
200
0,027
1,334
Moses
Sthomo
Trial
3
53,743
300
0,054
1,791
Control
35
518,977
1600
0,519
3,244
Mbuso
Mkhize
Trial
10
100,649
300
0,101
3,355
Control
14
151,902
400
0,152
3,798
TOTAL
21,024
Average Yield
1,998
Mdungeni Miya
Mr Miya was quite surprised by the performance of his maize as like many, he had lost hope
anything would grow after the scorching heat damaged most people’s crops. Although he
managed to harvest 12 crates (100 cobs each) from his trial, the cob sizes were generally small
and some of the maize had been eaten by birds and chickens. Nonetheless he washappy to get
any yield at all. In terms of his control plot, Mr Miyahad not yet harvested but was expecting to
get around 25 crates as the yellow maize seemed to have fared much better and had
considerably larger cob sizes.
He attributes the performance of his crops to replanting later than everyone else. It was quite
surprising that he managed to obtain a yield whereas Mbuso Mkhize and Shintshile Mbatha who
are not very far from him experienced the opposite. Even the cover crops seemed to have fared
quite well under the dry and hot conditions although sunflower flowered andwent to seed early
due to the lack of water.
BEAN AND COWPEAS YIELDS
Bean yields across 2017/18 and 2018/19were similar, albeit low for both seasons. Farmers all
seem to experience similar challenges with beans,which is field rotting due to dampness and
they often experience the same fate with cowpeas. Pests were not a major problem this season
36
Figure 36: Right, Mrs Ngobese’s
cowpeas (left) and Mncanyana's
and Rita Ngobese;s bean yields
Figure 37: Below, images of bean
and cowpea yields for Ozwathini
with only a handful of famers reporting issues with CMR beetles and cutworm. Farmers also had
an issue with beans getting spoiled while in storage due to them harvesting the beans before
they dried out properly due to wet weather conditions.
With regards to cowpeas, most participants did not obtain any yield, some due to leavingthe
cowpeas in the field and others lost their yield toboth excessively dry and wetweather
conditionsduring the season. Cowpeas did surprisingly well in Ozwathini with over 80% of
participants obtaining a yield whereas only about 30% of participants normally obtain a yield
for cowpeas.
Figure 35: Comparison of bean yields for Midlands groups 2017/18 and 2018/19
Cover Crops
Winter Cover crops were distributedin Ozwathini, Gobizembe and Mayizekanye , comprising of
a mix of Saiaoats, fodder radishand forage peas. Only one farmer in Ozwathini managed to
plant them as the others said it was too late to plant since they would only harvest beans in May.
In Mayizekanye and Gobizembe the cover crops performed very well with more than 80% of the
farmers who received them havingplanted. Fodder radish grew most vigorously,followed by
Saia oats. Theforage peas were much less visible except in one or two households. The team
visited each farmer for a close inspection of how they planted the cover crops and to monitor
how they were growing. Results are summarised in the table below.
Table 7: Winter cover crop planting monitoring for Midlands; 2810/19
Name of
Participant
Cover Crop Mix
Quantity
Method of PLANTING
% Germination
GOBIZEMBE
Rita Ngobese
WCC (black Sia oats,
fodder rye, forage peas)
3 cups
In maize row
90%
Lindiwe Zondi
WCC (black Sia oats,
fodder rye, forage peas)
3 cups
In maize row
95%
Khombisile
Mncanyane
WCC (black Sia oats,
fodder rye, forage peas)
3 cups
Did not plant
n/a
Smephi Chonco
WCC (black Sia oats,
fodder rye, forage peas)
3 cups
Relay cropped cc with
beans
98%
Thanda Sithole
WCC (black Sia oats,
fodder rye, forage peas)
3 cups
In maize row
Already grazed
by cattle
Mayizekanye
Ntombi Shandu
WCC (black Sia oats,
fodder rye, forage peas)
3 cups
Intercropped with
maize
70% (too many
weeds)
Nomusa
Shandu
WCC (black Sia oats,
fodder rye, forage peas)
3 cups
Did not plant
n/a
Eunice
Maphumulo
WCC (black Sia oats,
fodder rye, forage peas)
3 cups
In between maize and
in spaces were beans
did not germinate
85%
Fikelephi
Maphumulo
WCC (black Sia oats,
fodder rye, forage peas)
3 cups
Intercropped with
maize
30% (degraded
soil)
Lungile
Phungula
WCC (black Sia oats,
fodder rye, forage peas)
3 cups
Planted cc between
maize and beans
90%
Mrs Ngubane
WCC (black Sia oats,
fodder rye, forage peas)
1 cup
Broadcast cc on
separate plot
Already eaten
Thembi Mkhize
WCC (black Sia oats,
fodder rye, forage peas)
7 cups
Planted cc alone in
separate plot
98%
Gogo Ndlela
WCC (black Sia oats,
fodder rye, forage peas)
Was not available
n/a
Dumazile
Nxusa
WCC (black Sia oats,
fodder rye, forage peas)
9 cups
Did not plant
n/a
Mrs Mchunu
WCC (black Sia oats,
fodder rye, forage peas)
Did not plant
n/a
Babhekile Nene
WCC (black Sia oats,
fodder rye, forage peas)
Planted in between
maize rows after
harvesting maize and
beans
Already grazed
by livestock but
farmer said
germination was
very good.
38
38
Figure 39: Right, Simephi Chonco's cover crop. Quite an
improvement from last season where she only planted a
handful. This year she relay cropped them with beans
Figure 40: Rita Ngobe's cover crops; she
had started to allow her livestock in for
grazing
Below are a few indicative
pictures
Figure 38: Right, Mrs Eunice
Maphumulo's cover crops which
she also planted in patches
where beans did not germinate
39
39
Figure 41: Thembi
Mkhize's, she was so
keen to try them out she
demarcated part of her
field just for cover crops
Figure 42: Nomusa Shandu's
cover crops grew quite well but
most had already been grazed
except for radish
Key risk factors, adaptation strategies
The key risk factors for CA in the Midlands is weather variability and eroded soils. In the
upcoming season the following suggestions will be given some attention.
More attention will need to be given to experimenting withdifferent planting times and
designing planting calendars that can accommodate for weather variability as much as
possible; in addition to trying out short season maize varieties.
More attention needs to be given to high pest loads and pest outbreaks; such as stalk borer,
beetles and caterpillars using an integrated pest management approach.
A much ore concerted effort is to be made to diversify cropping options for the majority of
participants including summer cover crops, Dolichos beans and fodder options.
Specific interventions to control run-off will be required for the majority of participants.
Ideas hereinclude planting across the slope where participants are still not doing this,
40
40
contouring, mulching with weeds (which participants are reluctant to do, but is important),
strip cropping, grass strips and agroforestry option.
Participants from the newer villages in Appelbosch and Ntabamhlope, need to be introduced
to their co-experimenters in the Swayimane area, as rich interchange and shearing of ideas
is possible.
Running farmer level symposiums on soil fertility and soil health issues, including soil and
water conservation strategies is seen asimportant,as farmers still do not fully appreciate
the significance of their management practices on the condition of their soils. They tend to
focus more on weather conditions and crop varieties.
There may be a need to separate the expansion and awareness raising aspects of this
programme to an extent from the research aspects-
oFurther funding is required for the expansion, both in terms of resources for the
inputs required for the farmer experimentationand therequired logistical
capacity to service many different areas
oResearch requires greater focus, time and technical expertise than some of the
fieldworkers have and specific staff may need to be employed for this.
Instrumentation and analysis is generally too expensive to fall within the
present budgets
Bringing other potential donors on board is important both for the research and the
expansion as is the initiation of smaller, dedicated research projects within this process.
Opportunities exist to work within the realm of climate change adaptation and payment
for ecosystem services schemes, but this aspect is complex and will require focussed
attention.
Partnerships with government departments such as Agriculture, Rural Development will
continue to be sought.
41
41
Budget summary by August 2019
Date of transaction
Type of transaction
Amount ( R )
2018/10/08
Monthly expenses
64 191,04
2018/10/18
Monthly expenses
50 514,33
2018/10/26
Monthly expenses
75 856,43
2018/12/11
Monthly expenses
50 470,63
2018/12/11
Monthly expenses
90 960,00
2019/01/30
Monthly expenses
46 029,16
2019/02/28
Monthly expenses
38 631,50
2019/03/29
Monthly expenses
33 963,06
2019/04/30
Monthly expenses
42 412,30
2019/05/31
Monthly expenses
31 817,79
2019/06/30
Monthly expenses
29 874,16
2019/07/31
Monthly expenses
30 472,72
TOTAL AUG 2019
585193,12