Reports / Archives / Research Reports / 2007/2008 / 2007 Protein Sources

Research Report 2007/2008



Protein sources





PRF activities centre around protein for animal consumption, as detailed above. Of the large variety of sources that were researched in the past, sunflower and fish meal remain very important to the PRF and to the South African livestock industry.

Under existing PRF policy no funding is made available for sunflower research, while because fish meal is presently used on a very small scale in animal feed in South Africa, no research funding for this protein has been requested. Other crops are discussed in more detail below.

Mr SJ Malherbe, the Trustee who represents the fishing industry on the PRF Board, made mention during the year that fish meal consumption in South Africa in 1995 was 283 00 tons, but currently the industry battles to sell 40 000 tons locally. This decline can be ascribed to its high price as well as the replacement of fish meal with other protein sources in the feeding of animals. The fish meal industry is under pressure due to problems with fish research: In certain sectors of the fishing industry there are hardly any scientists left to do research, but luckily in the mesopelagic sector there are scientists available for research (mention has already been made about the lack of scientists to do research in South Africa). For the sake of providing a full picture, it can be mentioned that the average price of fish meal in 2005 was R3 625.00 per ton and that it increased to an average price of R5 800.00 per ton in 2007. However, at times the price was as high as R6 500.00 per ton. This rise in the price of fish meal was partly responsible for the drastic decline in demand.

As reported in the policy decisions above, the PRF decided to terminate funding for Faba bean research after 28 February 2008.

A critically important means of advancing the production and use of protein sources is the Estimate of Income and Cost Budget compiled and continually updated by the Vice-Chairman of the PRF, Mr JSG. Joubert. A more in-depth report on this aspect of the activities of the PRF is given under the heading "Projects".

The biofuel policy announcement by the Government has dashed hopes of DDGS being an additional source of locally-produced protein. However, the PRF trusts that great progress will be made following the inclusion of soybeans as a possible feedstock for bio-diesel production.




Soybeans remain the most important protein currently funded by the PRF. Following a record planting of over 240 000 ha in the 2006/2007 season this declined to 183 000 ha in the past year. Indications for the 2008/2009 season are much the same as for the past year. The crop in the past year unfortunately ended up at only 205 000 tons against the 424 000 tons of the previous year. The PRF remains positive about the future of soybeans in South Africa and a number of measures have been put in place to assist with the expansion of their production. In the section on Policy decisions, above, mention was made, in more detail, of the Soy Think Tank that took place as well as the actions that followed that meeting.

The Soybean Working Group again made valuable contributions in the past year to promote the production of soybeans as well as the transfer of technology. The meetings were well attended and discussions were of a high quality. The Soybean Rust Task Team has been placed under the care of the PRF in the past year and is currently known as the PRF Soybean Rust Working Group. Valuable input is likewise made here and the cross-pollination among researchers is of a high quality.

Special effort is made on an annual basis to visit the National Soybean cultivar trials, and again this year a number of locations were visited by PRF Board members. Unfortunately, the personnel of the ARC-GCI working in this area are under tremendous pressure, due to the shortage of manpower. More on this subject is reported under projects.

The PRF confirms its gratitude for the work done regarding the Super Soya Competition by everyone involved under the leadership of Mr Carel Havenga (PRF contractor) and Mr Johann du Plessis, Chairman of the Super Soy Competition. The PRF would like to thank them and their teams for the continued commitment to this project. More on this is reported under projects.

The advent of bio-diesel production resulted in an increase in soybean prices worldwide. At current prices the production of soybeans is highly profitable and the PRF trusts that in the next few years it will result in significant expansion of the Industry. Similarly we trust that a bio-diesel plant will be built in South Africa which will use soybeans as feedstock. This will increase demand for soybeans resulting in the planting of larger areas of land under this crop.




Canola production stagnated in the past year and the change from wheat to canola was significantly less than in the previous few years. During the past season only 33 260 ha of canola was planted, with a total crop of 38 150 tons. From these figures it is clear that the yields of canola will have to be increased in order to compete with wheat. Although canola is a good rotational crop for wheat farmers, whilst a crop rotation system in which canola is included is also more economical, producers have still not committed to this idea. The excellent work of Dr Mark Hardy in both the Swartland and the Southern Cape will hopefully bring to the attention of producers the importance of canola in a crop rotation system (more detail on this under projects).

Canola Focus, funded by the PRF, is still the official mouthpiece of the canola industry and the PRF would like to express its heartfelt thanks to the editorial team and everyone who contributed to making this publication a success. All information previously published in Canola Focus is available on the PRF website.

Dr G Tribe is making exceptional progress in the work he is doing in an attempt to contain pests and diseases of canola (see projects). Damage is still vast and probably influences producers' decisions not to plant more hectares of canola.

The Canola Working Group of the PRF is one of the most successful of those operating under the banner of the PRF. The PRF is especially grateful that people from such a wide variety of disciplines attend these working group meetings on a regular basis. Exceptional inputs are delivered and accordingly the working group serves the special purpose of technology transfer of all aspects regarding canola.

Details of the so called 'Super Canola Competition', as well as the Income and Cost Budgets calculations referred to above, can also be studied under the heading "Projects".




Mr Herman Agenbag, a contractor to the PRF and outstanding expert of the lupin industry, resigned on 31 December 2007. The PRF would like to thank him for all the years during which he promoted the lupin industry and for his willingness to make himself available whenever problems arose.

Unfortunately, the lupin industry did not deliver the growth to justify the research funds invested in this industry. The PRF Board therefore made a final decision that no further funds would be made available for lupin research after 31 December 2008.

The information publication "Lupino" is still being distributed and we would also like to thank the editorial team for their input and for making "Lupino" a success.

In the last season, for the first time ever, brown leaf blotch made an appearance under lupins and will have to be monitored carefully in the coming season.

Lupins still remain an important source of protein and play a specific role in the rotational cropping systems in certain areas of the winter rainfall areas.

A handbook on lupins, which is being compiled by Mr H Agenbag, will be an important source of information for those who continue to produce lupins. The PRF trusts that this literary heritage will be proof of several million Rands that the PRF has invested in lupin research over the past ten years.