Reports / Archives / Research Reports / 2000/2001 / 2000 Protein Sources

Research Report 2000/2001



Protein sources





The 1999 research report provided an analysis of all protein sources in respect of which the PRF had already commissioned studies. A report on a lucern project that was received during the year has already been discussed separately in this report. No further work in respect of lucern will be funded in the foreseeable future.

Due to staff turnover, no progress has been made in respect of faba beans in the Western Cape. It is hoped, however, that new information will soon be available which could possibly make faba beans a viable alternative.

In a further attempt to promote the three crops to which the PRF is currently attending, it was decided to invite experts in specific fields to address the different working groups from time to time. During the past year one such lecture on fertilization was presented to the Soya Working Group, while the Canola and Lupin Working Groups were treated to a very interesting lecture on agricultural meteorology. The latter gave rise to further interest in the field in an effort to help crop producers with their decision-making. Further information in this regard is awaited.

Oilseed production in South Africa encountered a serious problem during the year in that cheap oil was imported while demand on the part of local expressers for expressing material was at a minimum. An import duty on oilseeds and edible oil was announced during the year in an attempt to protect the local oilseeds industry and should contribute towards greater stability in the industry.

The expansion of production areas of these three crops received ongoing attention. Expansion of soya and lupin production occurred in Griekwaland East and the Eastern Cape, while canola was planted in various parts of the summer rainfall region. Progress in these areas is being monitored closely and will be supported if such support seems justified.

Co-operation with producers in the winter rainfall region also received a boost in that Agriculture Western Cape nominated producer representatives to the Lupin Working Group. The Canola Commodity Committee (CCC) has already been represented in the Canola Working Group for some time. Recognition must also be given to Ms L van Zyl for the secretarial services in the Western Cape and also to Agriculture Western Cape, who currently provides this service to the PRF on a contractual basis.




The Soya Working Group of the PRF continues to form the backbone of the PRF's efforts in aid of the soybean industry. Several experts have joined this working group and the group's activities are of a very high standard.

One of the most important aspects on which much time was spent during the past year is the correct calculation and analysis of the producer's input costs. An agreement was reached with co-workers that it would be senseless to look at the input costs for soybeans in isolation as most producers focus largely on maize and wheat. The comparative gross margins between, for example, maize and soybeans, on a single page have provided greater perspective in this regard. This aspect is of particular importance to prospective producers entering the soya industry.

Given lower than expected production in Mpumalanga and the eastern Free State, as well as the debate on row width, the PRF was requested by the Soya Working Group to make funds available so that producers in the aforementioned two areas could undertake a fact-finding mission to KwaZulu-Natal. This action was apparently highly successful and could possibly be used in future in areas that experience problems. The PRF is particularly excited about indications that plantings in the eastern Free State had increased during 2000.

The debate on row width also focused on planters. In previous research reports it was mentioned that the PRF, in collaboration with the Department of Agriculture in KwaZulu-Natal, had imported a Semeato planter from South America in an effort to promote minimum cultivation and narrower rows.

This was apparently very successful and led to an adaptation of a precision planter, which, at the request of the PRF, was tested by John Deere as a prototype in the beginning of the 2000 planting season. Both these planters are extremely successful but very expensive, with the result that the PRF purchased a cheaper Bramley planter to be used in trials. This planter seems to be highly successful at a very affordable price. The results will be processed during the coming year.

The testing of harvesters, on the other hand, gave rise to enormous frustration. The PRF examined three different possibilities to make cheaper harvesters available to soya producers. However, the PRF is not prepared to propagate such harvesters if they are not approved by the ARC Institute for Agricultural Engineering (IAE). Given various administrative problems experienced by co-workers, the IAE will only be able to test these harvesters next year.

The upward trend in soya production has given rise to the question as to whether South Africa has adequate capacity for processing soybeans. Although this aspect had already been addressed in 1998, the figures were updated and it now appears that we indeed have the processing capacity for approximately 350 000 tons of soybeans, compared to the current maximum crop of approximately 200 000 ton. Full-fat processing capacity, in particular, is increasing constantly and the PRF does not envisage problems with capacity for processing the soybeans produced. In the meantime it has also come to light that great progress has been made in the construction of a soya factory in KZN to serve the human market, and that more processing plants could possibly be erected in the near future.

The importance of technology transfer has been addressed repeatedly in this report and it is sufficient to say that the supersoya days in Dundee and Cedara have been a great success. This competition has been held in KwaZulu-Natal for ten years and the results speak for themselves. A similar supersoya competition held in Mpumalanga was also reasonably successful.

Certain processing plants need soya with white hilum to serve the human market. Earlier in the report it was mentioned that the ARC-Grain Crops Institute, in a PRF-financed project, had produced a cultivar that meets these requirements. This cultivar is subject to a contract and will in the near future start generating an income from royalties. Following an economic analysis on canola produced in a rotational cropping system, the Soya Working Group asked that a similar study be carried out in respect of soybeans. The Marketing Committee is currently negotiating with different organisations with a view to using the information available from the ARC-GCI's rotational cropping trial in this study.

International prices of soybeans and soya oilcake have increased dramatically compared to last year, while on the other hand, the rand has weakened considerably. These two aspects have meant that soya prices in South Africa are also firmer, with soya production being a far more attractive option for the producer than during the previous report year. Sustainability in agriculture is important to the producer and aspects such as rotational cropping contribute towards a permanent swing in favour of soybeans as a very important alternative. An over-production of soybeans is not envisaged in South Africa in the short to medium term, and promotion of the industry is going ahead full-steam.




Although lupins remain one of the best sources of protein to replace imported protein for the stockfeed industry, growth in production is slow. This can be largely attributed to the fact that anthracnose continues to cause serious losses in some areas. This is especially true in respect of L. albus cultivars, which have a higher yield and higher protein content, but are also more susceptible. Research on anthracnose is addressed elsewhere in this report and we still hope that a solution will be found as opposed to abandoning the lupin industry. In the meantime Dr A van Jaarsveld is working on seed treatment products while clean seed also helps to combat the incidence of anthracnose.

Earlier in the report it was mentioned that the PRF is maintaining relations with Australia and had sent Dr D Berger of the ARC to Australia to liaise with researchers on biotechnical work to combat anthracnose. The PRF greatly appreciates the very comprehensive report and wide variety of recommendations submitted by Dr Berger. There can be no doubt that this visit had contributed tremendously towards efforts of the PRF to combat anthracnose. Results will probably be available by next year.

Over the past year pre-seeding contracts were made available to producers, which helped to give the industry the necessary boost. As protein prices become firmer, sentiments in favour of lupins will also become stronger.

Sensako had for many years undertaken the breeding of lupins in the Western Cape. Monsanto, which took over Sensako during the past year, decided to discontinue breeding operations. Negotiations are currently under way to maintain the germ plasm bank. In the meantime seed is imported successfully from Australia.

The 1999 research report contains a report on the international lupin congress, which was attended, amongst others, by Mr H Agenbag. Negotiations to import cultivars from Germany, Chile and Poland, including yellow cultivars with protein levels of more than 40%, were successful and the first cultivar trials were planted during the past year.

Mention has already been made of the fact that the canola newsletter was well received by producers and has made an effective contribution towards technology transfer. At the request of the Lupin Working Group in the Western Cape it was decided to publish a lupin newsletter titled "LUPINO". The first newsletter, which appeared in March 2000, was dedicated largely to suggestions for successful establishment of lupins. This was followed up with a second newsletter in June 2000 which focused on lupins as a rotational crop, especially in a wheat / lupin rotational cropping system. Price structures were also dealt with briefly. The third newsletter, which appeared in September 2000, focused on the financial benefits derived from lupins, with reference to lupin contracts for the year 2000, as well as international information. The latter will be a permanent feature in all newsletters distributed to producers.

The PRF hopes to have an indication by the end of 2001 whether the lupin effort should be continued, but in the meantime everything possible is being done to make a great success of the industry.




Growth in the canola industry is slower that was hoped but is nevertheless positive. Canola was planted under irrigation in several areas of the summer rainfall areas over the past year, and it seems that many more plantings can be expected in these areas in the next season. Demand for canola remains strong. Pre-seeding contracts are generally available at good prices and if the weather is favourable, canola should show the growth that everyone expects.

Whereas canola is still a relatively unknown crop in South Africa, the PRF and CDA-WC agreed to host a canola expertise forum during November 2000. At the forum researchers had the opportunity to give a brief account of their projects so that everyone involved in the canola industry could gain a better understanding of those aspects that are currently addressed by researchers.

In light of the successful supersoya competition held in Natal over the past 10 years, the PRF approached the CDA-WC with a view to hosting a similar competition to promote the production of canola in the winter rainfall region. After an in-depth study, the CDA-WC agreed to run the competition as a joint venture with the PRF. This project was officially launched in November 2000. The PRF expresses its appreciation towards the CDA-WC for this initiative and hopes that the success achieved in this regard will greatly benefit the industry in the Winter Rainfall Region.

Co-operation among agricultural companies and co-operatives had as result has meant that all major problems encountered in the canola industry are now under control. Problems relating to moisture during harvesting have been largely solved in that driers were installed so that canola could be dried to the prescribed levels rather than left on the land.

The Canola Focus referred to earlier played an important role in the transfer of technology. In February 2000 the results of the national cultivar trials of 1999 were published and in March 2000 the important issues of canola fertilisation was addressed. The July 2000 edition focused on insect control and the September 2000 edition, which was released at the SKOG farmers' day, dealt with long-term rotational cropping systems and the economic benefits of canola and lupins within such rotational systems. The PRF wishes to thank the editorial staff of Canola Focus as well as the parties who provided articles for inclusion in Canola Focus.

The PRF is satisfied with the progress made in the canola industry and believes that, depending on climatic and economic conditions, canola has great potential for success in the future.



Other protein sources

Brief mention was made of fishmeal, lucern and faba beans in the 1999 report. In light of the lucern report, which was discussed earlier in this report, as well as the results as reported, the PRF decided not to fund any more lucern projects at this stage.

Further information on faba beans is currently awaited. The Lantern fish project initiated by Pioneer Fishing two years ago had in the meantime been shelved as mentioned in the previous report. In light of discussions held during the past year, the PRF and Pioneer Fishing decided to scrap the project in toto until such time that fishmeal prices justify resumption of the project.

Although we are constantly seeking new economically viable sources of protein, there is at present no alternative for any of the crops identified by the PRF.