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Key Results

  1. After five years of no-till management, the structure and water-holding capacity of the farm’s soil improved, rendering it more drought resilient. 

  2. After 13 years of no-till management and four years of cover cropping, the soil carbon has increased by 35%, compared with neighbouring farms under conventional management. Maize yields doubled in 2022 (poor rainfall year), compared with conventional neighbouring farms. 

  3. In 2020, 60 hectares of cover cropping were planted and 212 weaners with an average weight of 105 kg were purchased. The weaners spent four months on the cover crop and 2 months on the maize stubble. By 20 July 2020, the average weight had increased to 187 kg, representing a 70% weight gain in six months. 

  4. In dry years, the large financial losses incurred through crop failure can be partially off set by no-till and cover cropping with livestock. In wet years, the maize yields are similar to conventional neighbouring farms, but the increased livestock component results in higher profits .  

  5. Although grain production has remained Hectares planted with cover crop (left axis) Cattle numbers (LSU) (right axis)more or less the same, their yields have improved during the drier years and livestock numbers have tripled, which has resulted in improved profitability.

  6. After the fi rst year of cover cropping, the maize fields had less diseases. As spraying for fungal or insect infestation was not required, some savings on cost was achieved and the soil was spared the damaging eff ects of these sprays.

  7. Biodiversity in the fields is increasing and the whole farm is more sustainable. 

  8. As the soil is covered for most of the year, the green growth remains in the fields for much longer.

  9. The increased production and profitability can now aff ord their two sons an earning future on the farm.

Farm Agagia

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Klaas Malan says that soil is not just dirt. Soil is home to millions of micro- organisms that want to work for you – to make you a more successful farmer. But you have to stop breaking down their house (soil structure), otherwise you will face trouble as a farmer. Changing to no-till and cover cropping has great potential for reviving the land, families and communities, but the transition must be done in a carefully-planned way.

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