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2 Nov 2021
Ban TOXIC CHEMICALS in Africa
Ban TOXIC CHEMICALS in Africa

France and many other countries around the World, Banned a widely-used TOXIC Herbicide ...

So why is TOXIC Roundup is still widely used in Africa ??? ...


The sale of Roundup Pro 360 was banned in France, after a court found that regulators failed to take safety concerns into account when clearing the herbicide.
Roundup, owned by Bayer, contains the ingredient glyphosate, which causes cancer.

In 2015, the European Food Safety Authority concluded that the classification of glyphosate as a carcinogen was justified.

Hennie Groenewald, executive manager at Biosafety SA, said the debate around the use of glyphosate was complex.
He added that there were many economic considerations that needed to be taken into account when banning its use.
“We did produce food before Roundup, he said.
Glyphosate is carcinogenic ..

According to Angus McIntosh, a free-range pig, cattle and egg farmer near Stellenbosch and anti-glyphosate activist, the world could feed itself without genetically modified crops and herbicides such as Roundup.
He cited a case in the US, one of thousands around the world, in which Bayer was forced to pay punitive damages to a groundskeeper who had used Roundup and allegedly developed non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma as a result.
BOTTOM LINE ...
DON'T USE TOXIC CHEMICALS ...

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1 Nov 2021
Allelopathy
Allelopathy

Using Allelopathy in a Weed Management Strategy ...

What is Allelopathy ?...
The inhibition of one plant, or other organism, by another, due to the release into the environment of substances acting as germination or growth inhibitors.
How Does Allelopathy Work ? ... 
Plants release chemicals that affect other plants growth from their roots into the ground. The plants trying to grow near the allelopathic plant absorb those chemicals from the soil and are unable to live. ... 
Other plants absorb the gas and are stunted or die.
Allelopathy is a natural process whereby a plant produces one or more biochemicals that influence the germination, growth, survival, and reproduction of other plants.

Cover crop residue leaches allelochemicals, which help control weeds. But to achieve good, prolonged results, you will still need to implement effective weed control.

Using allelopathy in a weed management strategy ...
Weed management should focus on combining different methods to prevent and control weed populations.
“This is not only in the short term but also in the long term” says Dr Suzette Bezuidenhout, Scientific Manager of Cedara’s crop protection unit.
She adds that cultural weed management practices are important. These include production practices that improve crop competitiveness such as cover crops in combination with conservation tillage.
Suzette explains that allelopathic cover crops release allelochemicals into the environment and can be used to enhance weed management.
Researchers are constantly conducting field and tunnel experiments to evaluate the weed control abilities of various cover crops and cultivars.

Trials ...
Recently, researchers evaluated the effects of two cover crops, Italian ryegrass (Lolium multiflorum) and stooling rye (Secale cereale), without herbicide use, on the growth of maize and yellow nutsedge (Cyperus esculentus) in the field.
The trial involved three control treatments, namely weed residue left on the soil surface and weed control by hoeing.

In a tunnel experiment, oats, stooling rye and three cultivars of ryegrass were used to evaluate their influence on maize and yellow nutsedge growth and development.

The field experiment examined the desiccation times of cover crops before planting and at planting.

Minimum-till maize was planted into the residue and its growth and development were evaluated.

Results ...
In the first field experiment, maize emergence and growth were delayed in the presence of residues of both cover crop species, and especially in annual ryegrass residues.
C. esculentus growth was significantly inhibited in the area between the maize planting rows by the cover crops for the first 14 days after maize emergence. This growth-suppressing effect diminished after 28 days.

In the tunnel experiment, maize and C. esculentus growth were suppressed, especially by the root residues of the cover crops. The annual ryegrass cultivar Midmar was the most suppressive.

Adequate weed control was not achieved by applying only post-emergence herbicides.
Combining annual ryegrass residues sprayed at planting with only post-emergence herbicides applied later in the season resulted in the lowest maize yields.

Weed growth can be reduced by the allelochemicals leached from cover crop residues, but to achieve prolonged, effective weed control.

“More research is needed to establish principles of cover crop weed management in order to define its role in a weed management strategy,” says Suzette “The use of cover crops for weed control should therefore be considered a tool that is supplementary/complementary to standard weed-control practices aimed at managing weed populations in the long-term”

Source: Suzette Bezuidenhout, SR. ‘The use of allelopathy in a weed management strategy’. Department of Agriculture and Environmental Affairs, KZN. Retrieved from kzndard.gov.za/research-reports.

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31 Oct 2021
Transfarmation
Transfarmation

How 'Transfarmation' can Help the Climate ...

In their entirety, food systems are responsible for 26% of greenhouse gas emissions.
The bulk comes from agriculture and land use change, such as turning forests into farmland.

Which actions could help to reduce farming's emissions the most ? ...
There are a number of ways that agriculture can lessen its environmental impact. Some of these ways you might be familiar with, like reducing food waste or using water sparingly. 
But others might be a little less obvious to consumers, even though their impacts could be far greater. 
For example, Seaweed Solutions in Portugal are experimenting with seeding kelp forests in the Atlantic Ocean by spraying pebbles with kelp spores and dropping them in the sea. Eventually, these spores will bloom into forests 30m (98ft) high that could provide a source of food, animal feed or medicine and sequester carbon in the process.

Solutions like this sound surprisingly simple, but working out farming's environmental impact can be anything but. Some of the biggest agricultural contributors to climate change are a little less obvious.
One significant source of farming's greenhouse gas emissions comes from land use change, or creating new cropland from natural habitats like forests, peatlands and grassland.

Peat, a thick, dark, gloopy mixture of partially decayed vegetation that accumulates over millennia, is a critical carbon sink. Though they make up only 3% of the world's land, peatlands punch far above their weight when it comes to sequestering carbon. Globally, they store twice as much carbon as all the world's forests, which occupy more than 10 times the area of land.
But when disrupted, this powerful storage system can start spewing carbon dioxide. Agriculture is the main driver for this disruption. If a peat bog is drained of its water, the nutrient-rich soil left behind makes it a perfect environment in which to grow many crops. However, draining the water also enables the stored carbon to be released into the atmosphere. 
Peat, is an Organic material consisting of spongy material formed by the partial decomposition of organic matter, primarily plant material, in wetlands.

It is thought that 90% of peatlands have been disturbed to create agricultural land. Growing populations have raised the demand for more farmland, at the cost of natural peatlands.
Not only is this contributing to more carbon emissions, the dried peatland also becomes inflammable, which has led to hugely lethal fires. 

Peat is a desirable additive to soil. Most peat-based compost is used not by commercial growers, but by amateur gardeners. Peat-based compost has many valuable properties: it's versatile and absorbs moisture well.
Yet despite the climate benefits of peat bogs being kept intact, compost derived from peat bogs, which have traditionally been abundant, remains cheap.

There is an encouraging move away from peat, 
The need for this is clear. Because peat develops at a glacial pace – it can take thousands of years for peat bogs to form, with an average growth of just 1mm (0.04 inches) a year in some parts of the world – restoring bogs is less useful than simply keeping the peat in the ground in the first place. That's where peat bogs will continue with their slow and vital business of decomposing plant matter, while locking away massive amounts of carbon.

One way to reduce the amount of extra nutrients a farmer has to apply to their crops could be to improve the growing efficiency and yield of the plants. Project are currently experimenting with the way plants photosynthesise to maximise their use of sunlight. 
In a field of plants, the upper leaves are far more productive than the lower ones as they receive the most light. But if the genetics of a plant could be altered to make its leaves more transparent, the crop might grow more efficiently.

Agroforestry, or the integration of forests and farming, has been practised in some form for centuries. With climate change driving more extreme weather, the benefits are mounting for both livestock and crops. 
Trees on agricultural plots reduce landslide risk, for instance. As well, "the right design will provide very good shade for livestock and for crops. They will help slow the wind and help slow evapotranspiration rates [the combined rate at which water is lost to the atmosphere from the ground and from plants], improving the crop water efficiency. So they act as a bit of an insurance policy against drought" The benefits extend year-round. 

One type of agroforestry, silvopasture, interlaces trees and shrubs with pasture. Such land, including both the trees and the soil beneath the woody biomass, can sequester five to 10 times more carbon. However, the potential for increasing carbon sequestration depends on the conditions of the site. For instance, it may be less effective in areas that already have large amounts of soil organic carbon. Because trees are such powerful stores of carbon, their presence on degraded agricultural land makes good use of such land.

The mixture also helps diversify the output of a farm. The trees can generate other foods like nuts and mushrooms while the livestock graze between the trees.
"The systems have the potential to increase forage and wood biomass while promoting income diversification and contributing to food security, the restoration of degraded lands and the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions" 

It doesn't take as long as you might expect for the trees to start paying for themselves. Within two or three years, there can be visible benefits in terms of reducing soil erosion and providing shelter for livestock.

On a broader level, this approach to agriculture, "Not only has it got the climate benefits, but it's also helping to address the nature crisis", if native tree species are cultivated and plantation-style planting is avoided. "The same trees that are capturing some carbon, and helping the farm to adapt to climate change, are also delivering for nature"

Nurturing trees on farms isn't just about planting trees, which is far from a panacea. Planted trees can hoover up water and intensify drought in dry regions, for instance. Natural forest regeneration – essentially, leaving forested areas alone – can be a cheaper and more effective way to harmonise trees and space for livestock.

"We have to be careful with trees. Yet silvopasture remains an underappreciated form of agriculture that, if approached thoughtfully, can help address a whole wide range of issues and provide a whole wide range of benefits"

Dairy and cattle production releases 37% of global methane emissions, making it one of the biggest agricultural greenhouse gases contributors.

By introducing methanogenic bacteria to farm slurry and dairy waste, one can collect biogas to use as a clean fuel, and the remaining waste can be spread on the fields as an alternative fertiliser. 

While livestock farming can be made more climate-friendly, reducing the amount of animal farming – at least in industrialised countries with intensive animal agriculture operations – will make an enormous difference to greenhouse gas emissions.

Future of Agriculture has recommended reduced consumption and production of animal products, for example. And elsewhere, other farmers are already taking the initiative. Some transition farmers are even betting on cannabis as a more lucrative alternative to poultry.

Even so, demand for plant-based products is exploding. Diversified produce farms can be more profitable than the previous meat and dairy operations. However, these tend to depend on non-produce income, such as farm tours and events. 

Whatever form it takes, the call must be for the focus to be on food for people. "If you do food not feed – the food for the humans on the field, not to fatten up animals – then on a small scale you can feed so many more people" As the population rises along with global temperatures, sustainably producing more food for more people will be a pressing priority.

'Grow Your Own' ...
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30 Oct 2021
Govt failed to protect and provide for Small Micro Farmers & Businesses
Govt failed to protect and provide for Small Micro Farmers & Businesses

How Covid Created a Feast for the Big Guys ...
and a Famine for the Little Guys ...

It left big food producers laughing all the way to the bank, while small farmers, fishers and traders suffered ...
Informal traders were cut off from the permits they needed to work during lockdown, while government aid propped up big food businesses.

Findings from an in-depth study on how Covid-19 lockdowns affected food systems have been revealed ...
They found the government response “protected and insulated commercial farming and corporate-owned businesses” at the expense of the informal sector, which plays a big role in food systems.

Small-scale farmers, fishers and traders have suffered huge business losses under Covid-19, depriving poor consumers of a crucial source of cheap, nutritious food.
This happened “while large, corporate food producers and retailers have reaped the profits”

The study focused on fresh produce in Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal and fish in the Western Cape.
According to the report, as much as a quarter of all food and an even greater proportion of fresh produce is bought from informal traders. 
The sector also provides livelihoods or part-livelihoods for 2.5-million small-scale and part-time farmers, 80,000 small-scale fishers and fish processors, and 750,000 street traders. 
“The small-business sector is large and crucial in providing livelihoods to millions of South Africans and needs to be recognised as such" 
Also, by offering food at lower prices, informal traders free up money in consumers’ pockets so their other basic needs can be met.
The research found that “street traders, sourcing food from municipal markets and directly from farmers, sell fresh produce at prices far below supermarket prices and create more livelihoods for low-income people in the process, including in the areas of employment-intensive production and processing, as well as in the transport and retail sectors”. 
Similarly, “artisanal fishers and local fish processors and traders play a key role in coastal communities, creating livelihoods and ensuring a supply of high-protein seafood at the local level”.
This backlash for informal traders in the food system took place against a backdrop of the only sector that grew.

In the first year of Covid-19 the economy contracted by 7%.
Bad Government decisions exasperated the rising inequality among the millions of people who derive their livelihoods from the production, processing, trade and sale of food and food products”

Mobility forever changed by the Covid pandemic ...
A ‘human cloud’ now works from home, supply chains have been reconfigured and lockdowns have affected everyone.

The researchers found that while supermarkets, food processors and commercial farms were largely able to sustain their businesses, small-scale farmers and fishers “lost access to markets as a result of a prohibition on street trade, curfews and a lack of storage and refrigeration — and also because of the collapse of the hospitality and tourism sector to which they had previously provided food”
Added to this was that the sale of cooked food on the streets continued to be prohibited even after restaurants reopened. 

Consumers also suffered, said the researchers. “The rising cost of a household ‘food basket’ of 44 items exceeded the R350 social relief provided by the so-called ‘Covid Grant’
“In other words, depending on household size, much or all of the ‘relief’ went to cover food price increases and thus failed to benefit households struggling with income losses, as jobs and livelihoods fell away under the pandemic” 

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* Free Assistance with your DIY Tunnel Installations ...
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29 Oct 2021
Earthworms
Earthworms

Keep Earthworms to Improve Soil Quality ...

Earthworms play a crucial role in improving soil quality, and every farmer should try to maintain a healthy population of these remarkable creatures.

Did You Know ? ...
An earthworm breathes through its skin, which also gives off a lubricating fluid that makes moving through burrows easier.

Earthworms are long, segmented worms belonging to the phylum Annelida. More than 2 000 species have been identified to date, and 300 of these have been recorded in South Africa.

A mature earthworm has a clitellum (a belt-like swelling) that forms part of its reproduction system.
It contains both male and female reproductive organs, but cannot fertilise itself.
Copulation takes place at night on the soil surface.
The worms press their bodies together and exchange sperm before separating. Later, the clitellum produces a ring of mucus around the worm.
As the worm crawls out of the ring, it fills the ring with eggs and sperm.
The ring then drops off and becomes a cocoon for the developing eggs. Each cocoon produces up to 18 earthworms. The tiny immature worms emerge from the eggs fully formed. They develop sex organs within the first two or three months of life and reach full size in about a year.

Earthworms are classified into three groups according to their behaviour and habitat:
• Epigeic earthworms do not tunnel, but live on the soil surface, where they feed on decomposing plant and animal material.
• Endogeic earthworms make horizontal tunnels in the top 10cm to 30cm of soil. They ingest soil, absorbing nutrients from organic material in the soil.
• Anecic earthworms dig deep into the soil profile during the day, and surface at night to feed and deposit their casts (droppings) on the surface.

How earthworms help the farmer ...
Earthworms tunnel through the upper layers of soil in a constant search for food, and this improves soil structure.
The tunnels aerate the soil and help with water drainage, and the action of tunnelling loosens the soil.

Earthworms also perform the following useful functions:
• They pull organic material down into the soil, which improves soil quality. In addition, nutrients in the organic material they consume are released for the plants to use.
• Earthworm castings give the soil an ideal, crumb-like texture. Studies have found that the casts contain more nitrogen, potassium, phosphorous, magnesium and calcium than is present in the surrounding soil.
• Earthworms help control nematode populations as well as pathogenic fungi in soil, ingesting these together with the organic material. 
On the other hand, the earthworms’ presence stimulates microbial activity. “Good soil microbiology is very important as soil micro-organisms and enzymes regulate nutrient cycling” 

The ideal habitat ...
Earthworm populations are dependent on the physical (temperature, moisture, aeration and texture) and chemical properties (pH) of the soil, as well as food availability.
Earthworms are less abundant in disturbed soils and are typically active only when enough moisture is present. Biological factors such as predators can also play a role in the success of an earthworm population, as a wide variety of animals, including rats, birds, moles, snakes, frogs, snails, toads, ants and beetles, feed on them.
The best habitat for earthworms is untilled soil, as this contains more plant residue, which earthworms feed on. Under tillage, the worms suffer and their benefits are greatly reduced.
In short, to increase the earthworm population, you need to reduce soil disturbance. Here are some other aspects to consider:

Crop rotation ...
Crop rotation with legumes increases earthworm numbers by providing a quality food source.

Soil pH ...
A low pH will lower the worms’ survival rate.

Irrigation ...
Good irrigation and drainage, particularly in sandy and clayey soils, as well as the addition of organic material, help make conditions favourable for earthworms.

All TOXIC Chemicals are harmful to earthworms. 
A farmer following conservation agriculture practices can use earthworm numbers as an indicator of soil quality.

'Grow Your Own' ...
Sustainable Organic Food Crops
in GreenAgric Greenhouse Tunnels ...
for Improved Health
for Food Security

Only GreenAgric Offers ...
* Free Delivery to most places on SA
* Free Assistance with your DIY Tunnel Installations ...
* Free Ongoing 'Best Help and Advice' for growing your own Food Crops ...

GreenAgric are the Very Best Value for Money Tunnels in Southern Africa ...

Contact The GreenAgric Group on .
+27 72 387 2293
or via Telegram*, Signal* or WhatsApp ...
on +27 72 387 2293
We are also available on Twitter*, MeWe*, Facebook and Messenger ...
Twitter : @GreenAgricThe
Email : Sales@GreenAgric.com
Please visit GreenAgric's Website ...
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Open 7 to 7 - 7 days a week ...

We look forward to hearing from you soon ...




28 Oct 2021
Drip Irrigation
Drip Irrigation

Cost-Effective Irrigation ...

Over-irrigating costs you money in terms of water and electricity, and may lower your crops’ potential. Under-irrigating is also detrimental. 
Learn to irrigate properly and at the optimal time.

Cost-Effective Irrigation ...
All too often, I come across farmers who do not irrigate practically or economically. Applying too much water ends up wasting money, while watering too little can stress the plants.

Many farmers use a weekly irrigation schedule: that is, watering once a week for a set amount of hours. But they do this without determining how much water the crops actually need.

To begin with, you need to know how much water is delivered per hour through the irrigation system. The next step is to determine how deeply the water penetrates the soil.

The rule of thumb is that 1mm of irrigation wets 1cm of soil. So, for example, 25mm of irrigation will wet the soil 25cm deep. But keep in mind that this is a very rough guide.

The soil moisture content at the time of irrigation will also influence how deep the water will penetrate. Carry a garden trowel and dig into the soil frequently to determine its moisture status.

You can calculate the delivery per hour easily by using the information provided by the irrigation equipment supplier. You can also set empty food cans in various positions around the crops and then measure the depth of water in the cans after irrigation. Comparing the cans will also help you establish whether the soil is being uniformly irrigated.

To get the irrigation right, use a garden spade, preferably a narrow one, and dig into the soil to the depth you need to irrigate. The next day, dig again after irrigating and check how far the water has penetrated.

You can then calculate how long you need to irrigate in order to reach the required depth.

Wasting Water ...
Any irrigation beyond the target depth is a waste of water and electricity. Moreover, irrigation beyond the reach of the root system will carry nutrients, especially nitrogen, to a point where they will be lost to underground water.

Too little irrigation, on the other hand, will prevent the crop from sourcing nutrients beyond where the moisture reached. Obviously, if far too little water is supplied, the plants will become water-stressed as well.

The key is to get away from a rigidly scheduled cycle of irrigation, as water loss from the soil depends on air humidity, wind and temperature, which are variable. The stage of crop development also plays a role in the amount of water lost through transpiration and in the depth of the plants’ root systems.

Learn to read the crop; it will indicate when it’s thirsty. Make a mental note of leaf colour and condition at the edges of the land.

Apply a light irrigation after a bout of rainy weather, as plants become soft under these conditions and will stress earlier. Also, if you wait too long after rain to irrigate, everything will dry at the same time and some crops may become stressed before you reach them.

Article Credits : Bill Kerr & Farmers Weekly

Note from GreenAgric ...
Drip Irrigation is by far the most beneficial and cost effective, as it delivers water to each plant, so less waste of this valuable resource ...

'Grow Your Own' ...
Sustainable Organic Food Crops
in GreenAgric Greenhouse Tunnels ...
for Improved Health
for Food Security

Only GreenAgric Offers ...
* Free Delivery to most places on SA
* Free Assistance with your DIY Tunnel Installations ...
* Free Ongoing 'Best Help and Advice' for growing your own Food Crops ...

GreenAgric are the Very Best Value for Money Tunnels in Southern Africa ...

Contact The GreenAgric Group on .
+27 72 387 2293
or via Telegram*, Signal* or WhatsApp ...
on +27 72 387 2293
We are also available on Twitter*, MeWe*, Facebook and Messenger ...
Twitter : @GreenAgricThe
Email : Sales@GreenAgric.com
Please visit GreenAgric's Website ...
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We look forward to hearing from you soon ...


27 Oct 2021
Carbon Farming
Carbon Farming

The Regenerative Revolution in Food ...

Half of the World's Land is Used to Grow Our Food.

Intensive agriculture deplete soils of nutrients and carbon over time, making them less profitable.

A new generation of 'carbon farmers' are making their land absorb greenhouse gases, rather than emitting them.

Driven by ever-dwindling productivity, the land has been pushed to its limits for decades – more passes with machinery, more fertilisers, more pesticides. These intensive agricultural practices kept farms 'afloat' but beneath the surface, the soil was dying. 
"The land had been farmed very conventionally, so the ground was overworked and had lost its Organic matter"

For the health of the land and its long-term yield potential ... The solution is resting beneath our feet ... Soil Carbon.
Panting a lot of ground cover plants like phacelia and black oats that capture carbon from air and trap it in the ground.

Farmlands cover half of the Earth's habitable land, and the global food system produces 21-37% of the world's greenhouse gas emissions from human activity. 
When fields are worked with heavy machinery, their soils, which store three times as much CO2 as the atmosphere, leach trapped carbon back into the air.

Carbon farming, on the other hand, seeks to capture emissions, not create them. The challenge has been to make this form of regenerative farming financially viable, paying landowners to rejuvenate degraded soils by turning their fields into vast CO2 sponges.

Achieving this requires a range of regenerative techniques ...
Cover cropping is particularly popular – fields blanketed with grasses, cereals, legumes and other plant life that pull carbon from the air during photosynthesis, then store it in the soil below. 

For its proponents, carbon farming promises a bold new agricultural business model – one that tackles climate change, creates jobs and saves farms that might otherwise be unprofitable.

Having spent decades on the fringes of the agriculture community, carbon farming is starting to catch on. 
The European Commission is promoting the practice as part of its new 'Farm to Fork Strategy' 
Similar moves are underway in the United States, with the recent passage of a carbon-focused 'Growing Climate Solutions' and in the UK, where private projects are springing up at pace.

The Sustainable Futures Carbon Bank is one such enterprise. 
"The enthusiasm around carbon capture has really increased in the last couple of years" 
Keen to kindle this growing interest in green farming, a recently established 'Carbon Bank' has been formed - a scheme that helps farmers harness, and ultimately profit from, CO2 sequestration.  

"We're on the frontline of climate change here ...
soon there will be whole transects of land that simply won't be able to be farmed like they used to.

Carbon farming helps to store carbon in the soil, removing it from the atmosphere and enriching the land.

CARBON COST ...
From carbon markets to flight levies, economic interventions have the potential to drastically reduce the world's carbon emissions. Carbon Cost analyses some of the most powerful economic measures that could reshape the way we live, and our relationship with the planet and nature.

Cattle farming can be an extremely carbon-intensive form of agriculture, responsible for 65% of greenhouse gas emissions from livestock. 
"Hooved animals are vital, because it's that hoof action that stirs up the grasses and seeds sitting dormant on the ground. The cows are key to activating the whole carbon capture process and speeding up photosynthesis"

There's no time to be half-hearted, and reneging on regeneration isn't an option. 
"There isn't any point trapping emissions in the soil if, a few years later, you're going to return to the same old intensive techniques, which will send a deluge of sequestered carbon right back into the atmosphere"
Certain crops, such as legumes, help to sequester greenhouse gases and store them in the soil. 

"There's a lot of momentum behind carbon capture schemes, but there's no global protocol for measuring, reporting, and verifying credits, because of this, there isn't yet a level playing field for farmers, or a set of protocols for them all to follow" 

Carbon farming can help provide an alternative source of income to farmers whose land is degraded, while improving the quality of the soil at the same time.
There's still plenty of value to be had from CO2 capture. 

In the future, beef, lamb and pork produce will be a byproduct of the carbon that is stored in the soil. 

'Grow Your Own' ...
Sustainable Organic Food Crops
in GreenAgric Greenhouse Tunnels ...
for Improved Health
for Food Security

Only GreenAgric Offers ...
* Free Delivery to most places on SA
* Free Assistance with your DIY Tunnel Installations ...
* Free Ongoing 'Best Help and Advice' for growing your own Food Crops ...

GreenAgric are the Very Best Value for Money Tunnels in Southern Africa ...

Contact The GreenAgric Group on .
+27 72 387 2293
or via Telegram*, Signal* or WhatsApp ...
on +27 72 387 2293
We are also available on Twitter*, MeWe*, Facebook and Messenger ...
Twitter : @GreenAgricThe
Email : Sales@GreenAgric.com
Please visit GreenAgric's Website ...
https://GreenAgric.com

Open 7 to 7 - 7 days a week ...

We look forward to hearing from you soon ...


26 Oct 2021
Tackling Climate Change as Individuals
Tackling Climate Change as Individuals

Climate change: Five things you can do to help fight climate change ...

Tackling climate change will require world leaders to take action on a global level.
But as individuals we also contribute to damaging emissions. Here are some things you can do to reduce your personal impact.

1. Insulate your home ...
From installing a reversible cycle heat pump to turning down the heating, there is a raft of changes around the home that can help the planet.
"Switching from a gas or oil-powered heating system to an electric reverse cycle heat pump makes a considerable difference, both in winter and in summer ...

"On a day-to-day basis, switching off lights and appliances when not in use can help us to save you money while reducing our impact on climate change."

Draught-proofing is one of the cheapest and most effective ways to save energy. This involves blocking up unwanted gaps that let cold air in and warm air out, such as around windows, doors or skirting boards.

Switching to a green energy provider or a green tariff can significantly reduce your household's carbon footprint. 

2. Cut out food waste and cut down on red meat ...
Livestock creates 14% of all greenhouse gases, with cattle being by far the largest contributor.
The simplest and most effective way to limit your impact is to reduce meat in your diet, particularly red meat such as beef.
Beef has the highest carbon footprint.

The world wastes between 25% and 30% of its food.
You can save money and reduce waste by making smaller portions and saving leftovers for later.

3. Drive less, fly less ...
Transport is responsible for almost a quarter of carbon dioxide global emissions.
Living car-free might be "the most impactful thing we can do to reduce our transport emissions"
However, ditching the car is not possible for everyone, particularly if you live in an area without good public transport, or work night shifts when it isn't running.
Small steps still have an impact, like walking and cycling to the local shops or sharing car journeys with friends or neighbours.

Electric cars are becoming more widespread, but it is only truly green travel if the electricity used to power the car comes from green energy sources, such as wind or solar. 

Unfortunately for keen travellers, flying is one of the most carbon-intensive things we can do as individuals.
Domestic flights have the largest emissions per person per kilometre.
Train journeys can have less than a fifth of the impact of a domestic flight.
"For those who fly a lot, reducing the number of flights you take will make a considerable difference to your personal footprint" 

4. Think before you buy ...
It takes 3,781 litres of water to make one pair of jeans, taking into account cotton production, manufacture, transport and washing.
Buying second-hand can reduce waste and save you money too.
You can limit your impact by repairing minor faults in clothing rather than replacing, donating rather than throwing away and choosing higher-quality items that you think will last longer.
An increasing number of companies are offering clothes to rent, which helps reduce waste in the fashion industry. 

Choosing the right household appliances can also have a positive effect on your carbon footprint. Make sure you are buying the most energy-efficient products, such as washing machines, when they need replacing.

5 ...
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25 Oct 2021
Garden Weeds
Garden Weeds

Control Garden Weeds Organically ...

Use these Organic weed-control methods to control common garden weeds so that your vegetable garden can thrive.

Most of the things we do in a garden also encourage weeds. Bare soil in any form is an invitation for weeds to grow because weeds are nature’s opportunists. Most weed plants grow faster than food crops, so weeds will shade or starve out your plants unless you protect them. In addition to basic Organic weed-control methods, such as hand-weeding, shallow hoeing, and deep mulching, innovative techniques, such as creating “weed moats,” can help control common garden weeds such as Bermuda grass, puncture vine, and other troublesome plants.

Weed Control Basics ...
Weed prevention follows a predictable pattern in the vegetable garden. About 10 days after you plant a crop, the bed or row will need careful hand-weeding, followed by a second weeding session 10 days later. Slow-growing, upright crops, such as carrots and onions, may need a third or fourth weeding to subdue weeds, but they’re the exception. After a month of attentive weeding, most veggies will be large enough to shade out weedy competitors. Plus, you can use mulch to block the growth of weeds between widely spaced plants, such as tomatoes and peppers.

Weeding Tools to Topple Weed Troubles ...
* Scuffle Hoe ...
Use a scuffle hoe to go up and down the rows right after germination and then again one to two weeks later, depending on the crop’s growth.
that hand-weeding is usually needed after the second hoeing, but it’s quick — hoeing between the rows cleanes out most of the weeds.
Scuffle hoes, have blades with two opposing sharp edges that cut when pushed and pulled, and most gardeners with big plots consider them essential equipment. 
Sturdy weeding knife, often called a hori-hori.weeding knives feature long, sharp edges that shave down weeds, and have a pointed end for prying out strong taproots, such as those found under dock weeds or dandelions. Many folks also consider hand-weeding, with follow-up mulching, effective and rewarding work.

A couple of thorough weeding sessions early in the growing season, when weed seedlings are small, can greatly reduce weed issues through summer.
 
Most organic gardeners depend heavily on mulch, grass clippings, old leaves, or straw, to control even the most aggressive weeds.

Surface mulches deprive weed seeds of light and increase their natural predation by providing habitat for crickets, ground beetles, and other seed-eaters. The cool, moist conditions under mulch will also cause many weed seeds to rot, so mulches that give good surface coverage can both prevent and cure seemingly overwhelming weed issues.

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23 Oct 2021
Honeybush Tea
Honeybush Tea

Making the most of wild-grown honeybush

While many farmers have had their fingers burnt in the production of honeybush, the crop can be highly lucrative, and Quinton Nortjé of Melmont Honeybush Tea can attest to this.

The past few years have seen growing interest in honeybush (Cyclopia spp) production, but quality and taste have not always been up to standard, resulting in poor returns. The situation was exacerbated by COVID-19-associated trade disruptions, which brought exports to an almost complete standstill.

However, Quinton Nortjé of Nooitgedacht farm, who harvests wild honeybush from the Kouga Mountain range in between the Langkloof and Baviaanskloof, is one of the few farmers who has managed to more or less continue with business as usual.

“Aside from a few hiccups during Level 5 of the COVID-19-related lockdown, we haven’t really been affected, and even employed a few extra people to alleviate the impact of the lockdown on employment in our community,” says Nortjé.

Nortjé and his wife Eunice run the business together, and ascribe their success to a combination of teamwork, a sought-after product and a secure market.

Access to overseas markets ...
Nooitgedacht, located near the town of Kareedouw in the Eastern Cape, has a rich history of honeybush production, and Nortjé is the third generation to harvest the plant from the wild.

Deregulation in the 1990s opened up new market opportunities, initially to Germany and the UK, but Nooitgedacht struck it lucky when a South African tea trader living in Japan chose the farm to supply the Japanese market with honeybush tea, following visits to numerous producers.

Husband-and-wife team Quinton and Eunice Nortjé have built a solid brand for their honeybush tea over the years.

“Farmers often make use of agents when they struggle to sell their tea. Unfortunately, many of these agents don’t add value to the industry, and merely shift product from one place to another. Our trader, however, gives market feedback and actively promotes our tea. Sales might sometimes decline, but [we’re confident that we won’t] lose our market, because someone is looking after our best interests,” explains Nortjé.

Today, approximately 80% of Nooitgedacht’s annual harvest is exported, with about 50% sent to Japan. The rest is exported to the US, UK, Germany, the Netherlands and Switzerland, or sold at selected local farm stores and health shops.

The exported tea, in 20kg bags, is repackaged and branded once it has reached its destination, while the rest is sold locally under the Melmont Honeybush Tea brand.

“Branding our tea helps us differentiate our product from others and build loyalty,” says Nortjé.

Samples of each batch have to be sent to overseas buyers before it can be exported. Before it is shipped, the tea is also chemically analysed to ensure it complies with export market standards.

Quality is king ...
The Nortjés have gained a reputation as producers of sustainable, premium-quality honeybush tea.
“You need to decide which game you want to play. If you produce a mass of mediocre-quality tea, you’ll always be vulnerable to price fluctuations. Top-quality products, by contrast, are always sought after and fetch premium prices,” says Nortjé.

He adds that their tea is not certified organic due to auditing costs, “but it’s as organic as you can get”.

The farm produces honeybush from the C. intermedia species of fynbos, which grows naturally on the cooler and wetter southern slopes of the Kouga range, at 1 000m to 1 200m above sea level. According to Nortjé, this species is superior to all others in terms of quality. The only problem is that it is difficult to cultivate, and most of the cultivated plantings contain the C. genistoide and C. subternata species.

Rhodes University, in collaboration with Living Lands, a not-for-profit environmental organisation, is developing a way to address this issue through the use of boiled water to artificially germinate the C. intermedia seeds. These seeds have been planted at Nooitgedacht, and Nortjé is optimistic about the results so far.

“The ability to cultivate the plants will significantly reduce risk by enabling farmers to plant the species in new areas and replenish wild plantings following outbreaks of drought and fire,” he says.

Like most other fynbos, honeybush should be burnt by the time it is about 20 years old to retain the balance between species. Burning the bushes before 12 years, however, causes severe damage, and the recovery time is lengthy.

Finely honed production techniques ...
Having the highest-quality honeybush species is important, but it’s just the start; the crop has to be expertly converted into a superior and standardised product.

“Over the years, I’ve worked with botanist and researcher Dr Hannes de Lange, researchers from the Agricultural Research Council, and scientists from various universities to find ways of unlocking the full potential of honeybush,” says Nortjé.

After many trials, he was one of the first farmers to ferment honeybush in stainless steel bins rather than in heaps outdoors.

“It doesn’t pay to sell a health product if it’s contaminated with pathogens. I found pathogen counts to be low in the centre of the heaps, but high on the peripheries.”

Initially, he struggled to cut the shoots into adequately fine pieces, but solved this problem when he acquired a tobacco carver at an auction, following the tobacco industry’s crash in the 1990s.

Once the honeybush has been cut, it is fermented for 70 hours at 70°C in a 2,4m-long stainless-steel bin. Nortjé uses alien black wattles cut down from his and a neighbouring farm as fuel to heat the bin.

“The trick is to use at least two layers of bricks between the fire and the bin, otherwise the temperature will fluctuate too much,” he explains.

After fermentation, the tea is placed on racks to dry in the sun, which can take a day or two, depending on climatic conditions.

“The racks are raised off the ground to prevent contamination. At night, they’re placed on top of one another in drying chambers inside the processing plant. The drying rooms are closed off with nets to facilitate air movement, and prevent insects and rodents from entering them,” Nortjé adds.

Sustainability ...
Nortjé follows a meticulous management programme to ensure sustainable production. “We have 700ha under honeybush, but harvests are capped at 20t per year, and less if the plants are under stress because of drought or other setbacks.”

The land is subdivided into smaller camps, and the harvesting is rotated between them. The honeybush is left in the camps for at least four years before being harvested for the first time. From then on, the camps are harvested every four to five years, depending on the condition of the bushes.

“Plants grow more slowly during dry spells, so we take that into account. On the upside, dry conditions usually result in tea of superior quality. Fortunately, we rarely experience long periods of drought, as the plants grow so high up on the mountains,” he says.

The bushes are harvested with sickles to a height of 10cm above the ground, and thorough records are kept of when each camp is harvested.

Staff ...
The Nortjés have 12 permanent employees who have years of experience working with honeybush. “They really know the ins and outs of harvesting and processing, so I’m confident that they harvest responsibly,” says Nortjé.

The plants are harvested on cool days all year round; this produces a continuous supply, creates year-round employment, and takes full advantage of the farm’s processing capacity. Cool conditions are a prerequisite, as the alternative would result in a lower-quality product and would make conditions unpleasant for the workers.

“Harvesting honeybush is highly labour-intensive; you really can’t expect people to do it when the weather’s hot,” he says.

Over the years, Nortjé has developed systems to improve labour efficiency. For example, where donkeys were once used to take the bundles of harvested honeybush from the top to the bottom of the mountain, a pulley system is now used.

While honeybush is their main source of income, the Nortjés also run sheep and cattle as a way of diversifying production risks.

“Our son, Scheltema, is the livestock farmer. He prefers to farm Bonsmara cattle, because they’re well adapted to extensive production conditions and mountainous areas. They also have good mothering instincts, which helps prevent predation losses.”

Nortjé is keen to add a honeybush tourist centre to his processing facility. “I’d like to create a place where people will be able to taste different kinds of honeybush tea, as at a wine tasting, and see first hand how the tea is produced.”

Article Credits : Glenneis Kriel & Farmers Weekly

Click on this link to read the ...
Health Benefits of Honeybush Tea ...

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22 Oct 2021

Chilli Producer Achieves Success with Bio-Farming

Chillies are a difficult crop to market; demand is limited and retailers’ requirements can be tough to meet. Mpumalanga Farmer Chris Roux overcomes these challenges by planting a wide and colourful range of chillies and using Biological Farming techniques.

The declining profitability of sugar farming prompted Chris Roux, owner of Paradise Creek Farms in Hectorspruit, Malelane in Mpumalanga, to diversify his operation in 2016 by including sweet peppers.

The following year, when his sons Antonie and Eugene were looking for ways to earn some pocket money, they planted a few rows of chillies.
“But we struggled to sell them,” recalls Roux.
“The market is sensitive and if the volumes are too high, there are few buyers. So I looked for a more formal market, approaching packhouses that supplied chillies to supermarkets. We ended up being asked to supply a wide range of chilli varieties on a consistent basis, so we expanded our production.”

Since the cultivation of peppers is similar to chillies, the addition of the spicier variety fitted well into the production cycles on Paradise Creek.

A wide range ...
Paradise Farms has 6ha planted to chillies. These comprise six types and a total of 17 varieties, including cayenne, Habanero, serrano, jalapeño and bird’s eye.
Roux explains that they are still in the process of evaluating which varieties work best on the farm, hence the wide range of chillies within each type.
“I also base my decisions on what the market wants, and on the sizes and colours that are available at certain times of the season. The biggest challenge is to get consistency in the product right through the year, as this is what earns a premium. But this is what we strive for.”
Yields range from 5t/ ha to 15t/ ha, depending on the variety.

Production ...
The Hectorspruit climate is well suited to chilli production, with winter temperatures seldom reaching below 10°C and summer highs of up to 45°C. The seedlings are planted around March, with the chillies harvested from May to December.
The added compost which comprises of sugar cane plant waste (bagasse) is obtained from the nearby sugar mill, and citrus peels from juicing factories.
The composting process has to be managed carefully to produce the optimal balance of temperature, moisture and air for breaking down the materials and killing any harmful pathogens. In particular, the compost must not be too dry, otherwise the beneficial organisms go into dormancy and composting slows down.
“Our soil is quite heavy, and we struggle to get enough aeration, so the compost helps improve the soil structure,” explains Roux.
“It’s important that the roots are not submerged in water for long periods as the trees will drown.”

Seeds are sent to a nursery to germinate, and the seedlings are planted 30cm apart in the row, with a 1,5m inter-row spacing.
Professionally germinated seeds are the key to success, stresses Roux.
“Germinating seedlings is a science of its own, and one needs to choose a nursery very carefully. If the roots are not developed correctly, the plants are weak, which results in lower yield.”

The chillies are drip-irrigated and require approximately one hour of irrigation in winter. This is lengthened as the temperature rises.

“We try to farm biologically as far as possible to keep our maximum residue levels (MRLs) low and so maintain market access. I believe that farming biologically is the best way to do this,” he says.
A key step in the biological farming process is to ensure that enough organic matter is applied to the soil, he adds. Compost feeds beneficial micro-organisms in the soil, increasing their populations and thus helping to protect the plant against soil pathogens. This applies particularly to newly planted seedlings, which are more vulnerable.

“Damping off can also be a problem, so the plant must not be planted too deep,” says Roux.
“If the stem is surrounded by damp soil and remains wet for too long, it develops a fungus and rots off. To counter this, we use fungi to treat the soil at planting, and take care to plant the seedlings level with the soil. Fungi works against harmful insects and organisms and feed the plant so that it is more resistant.
Roux and his team also add fungi to the irrigation water and apply it again later as a foliar spray. The fungi act like parasites on harmful insects and effectively disrupt their life cycle.
“The problem is that we struggle with diseases like powdery mildew, which is a fungus. This is by far my biggest challenge as a biological farmer: trying to manage the process of growing a good crop without chemicals.”
Roux uses products containing seaweed extract in his irrigation cycle; these act as immune boosters of sorts and strengthen the plant, while feeding beneficial micro-organisms.
Adding Bacillus subtilis bacteria also aids healthy soil and microbial life. All of these help create an ideal environment for the plant, resulting in a strong tree that is pest-and disease-resistant. 
Roux laments, however, that while there are many biological product solutions on the market, few people understand how to use them correctly in combination.
“There are products for insects and fungi, but using them in such a way that the beneficial insects and fungi remain, while the harmful elements are eliminated, is a challenge.”

Harvesting is labour-intensive; it requires about 20 people per 10ha and takes place weekly as the plants produce fruit constantly.
“The smaller the chilli, the more is needed to fill a crate, so it can take one picker an entire day to fill two crates. People are paid per kilogram picked, so those who work hard earn more. Each person has a tag that is scanned when the crate is weighed, and the money is allocated accordingly. This makes it easier to budget, as we can see over a season what the harvest has cost us per kilogram, and compare it with income actually received,” says Roux.

Paradise Farms is GlobalGAP-accredited, but as its packhouse is not accredited to pack for supermarkets, the chillies are sorted on the farm and then sent to an accredited packhouse for packing.

Securing a market ...
Roux notes that most chillies produced locally are Thai types sold on the hawker market.
“Some years work out well, others not, depending on how many farmers decided to plant chillies. It’s a small market that’s sensitive to fluctuations in volume.”

Planting for retailers has its own set of difficulties ...
“They want a certain type, size and colour at certain times of the year, or even all year round, which is even more challenging. A chilli tree doesn’t produce the same size chilli throughout the season, so we need to have a variety of cultivars and sizes.”
Roux thinks the market for chillies is expanding due to the growing number of South Africans who enjoy hot food.
“Jalapeños didn’t have much of a market before chilli poppers became popular. But overall growth is somewhat limited. We won’t see the same growth as in avocados, for example.

“My advice to new growers is to first find a market and then plant. To plant in bulk and hope you’ll get everything sold seldom works and isn’t sustainable.”

Article Credits : Lindi Botha & Farmers Weekly

'Grow Your Own' ...
Sustainable Organic Food Crops
in GreenAgric Greenhouse Tunnels ...
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for Food Security

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20 Oct 2021
FREE Community Project
FREE Community Project

Are you a Sustainable Organic Food Crops Grower ?

Big or Small ...
Do you have excess crops that you would like to sell ?

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*** Crops Must Be ***
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