Research Report 2008/2009
The actions of the PRF centre around protein for animal consumption as well as better utilisation of protein as already mentioned. In the past, a large variety of protein sources was researched, but in accordance with the policy of the PRF, the current focus is only on those protein sources that have the potential to make a quantitative difference and progress in the local market. Subsequently, the protein sources that currently receive funding are limited to soybeans and canola. Although fishmeal and sunflower remain important to the PRF, no research funding was made available for these sources in the past year, mainly because they do not conform to the expansion possibilities as detailed above.
The generic marketing campaign which has already been approved with regard to soybeans and referred to above, should make a significant contribution to the execution of the vision and mission of the PRF. More results will be seen in 2009/2010, whilst canola will follow in 2010/2011.
The PRF is optimistic that soybeans are poised for strong growth in the immediate future. This is confirmed by the strong display of soya prices throughout the year, and soybeans have indeed become a strong competitor for maize. International proof of the advantages of rotational crop systems of maize and soybeans in a system of minimum tillage prompted the PRF Board to investigate the possibility of mounting a massive generic marketing campaign for soya and to implement this as soon as possible, as mentioned in paragraph 3.
For large parts of the year, soybeans traded above R4 000 per ton on Safex and continuously increased the gap with maize prices. Compared to 2006/2007 the hectare margin declined from 183 000 to 174 000 for 2007/2008 (substantially lower than the record of 243 000 hectares in 2005/2006, but the expected yield has increased from 205 000 to 328 000 ton). In contrast, the crop estimate for 2008/2009 is 224 000 hectares and 405 000 ton, the second highest numbers ever.
As mentioned already in this report certain policy amendments have placed the PRF in a position actively to promote soybeans. Ties specifically with Brazil and Argentina look promising and more detail will be supplied in the next research report.
The most important action, apart from identifying the correct cultivars, still remains technology transfer. Cooperation with Grain South Africa to publish articles in their publication, SA Grain, works well and the PRF would like to acknowledge their support. Great appreciation is often expressed by producers for the information distributed in this manner.
A soya think tank was planned during 2008/2009, but due to logistical reasons it had to be postponed to 2009/2010.
The Super Soya competition still continues and 19 years later remains successful (see Super Soya Competition). Cooperation with the No-till Club from KwaZulu-Natal was made possible thanks to Mr Johann du Plessis and indications are that great advantages are in store for even more successful cultivation of soybeans in the future.
Problems of a greater- and lesser extent were experienced this year. Seed companies threatened to withhold new cultivars from the industry should producers continue the practise of holding back grain for seed. Considerable attention was paid to this issue during the PRF Soya workgroup meetings, and Grain South Africa (GSA) is currently attending to this issue.
Several soya work group meetings were held again this year, with great success. The same is true for the annual PRF Soya rust work group and also the PRF Sclerotinia work group meetings. The PRF would like to acknowledge the National Crop Estimates Committee (NCEC) for their assistance with the questionnaires aimed at determining the incidence of sclerotinia. In addition, the PRF acknowledges all the co-workers who make these meetings the success that they are. Projects in this respect, as discussed above, are already receiving attention.
On the same topic, it has been decided to review and update the soybean rust pamphlet, and the PRF would like to thank Dr Pat Caldwell under whose guidance this has been achieved. This is still available in pamphlet format and also on the PRF website.
The PRF believes that there is still a future for canola in South Africa, especially in the light of the tremendous growth of canola in the rest of the world where more than 50 million tons is now being produced. It remains an oilseed that is in high demand and has also proven to be a useful rotational crop especially with wheat in the Western Cape. Yield is not yet what it could be and a small push is required to bring the profit margins of this oilseed in line with that of wheat, which would make it more competitive also.
As discussed earlier in this report, a substantial amount of canola research is still being funded, and there has also been a large investment in technology transfer in the past year. The PRF decided to pay considerably more attention to the promotion of canola in the coming year. One of the projects that will receive special attention will be the so-called Canola competition, discussed in more detail in paragraphs 5.16(a) and (b).
A highlight for the local canola industry was the publication 'Canola Production Guidelines' compiled by Prof André Agenbag being the outcome of a THRIP project. This publication is a valuable addition to the 'Canola Production Manual' previously published by Dr Jos de Kock, a Board member of the PRF. Both documents are available on the PRF website, whilst 'Canola Production Guidelines' is also available from the PRF in hard copy and on CD.
The Canola Focus which was sponsored by the PRF over the past number of years remains an important resource for conveying the latest information to producers. The PRF would like to acknowledge Messrs P Lombard, J Bruwer and Dr N Kotze who comprise the editorial team of Canola Focus, as well as all co-workers who continuously make contributions that ensure the success of the publication.
It was noted this year, after long delays, that the concept regulations regarding grading, packaging and marking of canola targeted for sales in South Africa, according to the Law on Agriculture Production Standards, Act 119 of 1990, was accepted by the Department of Agriculture.
Aside from several smaller information days, the Skog- and Riversdal days are still being utilised to introduce canola to increasing numbers of producers. The PRF is one of the principals of Skog and partly funds the project of Dr Hardy (see 5.19 above) which is conducted in Riversdal on the farm belonging to Mr Fanie Joubert.
The study tour to Australia, discussed above, was aimed at promoting closer ties and cooperation within the canola industry internationally. This mission was under the leadership of Dr Jos de Kock, a Trustee of the PRF, and included Messrs J Bruwer and P Lombard, in accordance with a new policy decision of the PRF discussed above. Progress resulting from this visit will be discussed in the following research report.
In an attempt to identify issues that hamper the progress of the canola industry, the Board has approved a project entitled 'Canola Adoption Decisions in the Overberg'. Unfortunately the project has not yet been initiated and will receive attention in 2009/2010.
All the above mentioned actions are aimed at breaking through the apparent stagnation of the industry and to promote significant annual progress. Following good initial progress, hectares under canola were as follows:
2006 : 32 000
2007 : 33 200 and
2008 : 34 000
In the research report of 2007/2008 it was mentioned that no further research funds will be made available for lupin research after 31 December 2008 and the necessary reasons were given for taking this decision. The past season yielded only 13 300 tons on 14 000 ha which once again reinforces our decision.
The PRF has however decided to see the lupin issue through to its logical conclusion. Seed from promising cultivars and lines in the possession of the PRF will be made available to interested parties together with the results of the past two years' cultivar trials. In an attempt to make a sufficient quantity of seeds available to such institutions, the process of terminating PRF funded lupin research will only be completed in the 2009/2010 financial year.
In the meantime it has also been agreed with the ARC-IGC that the lupin germ plasm in their possession will be transferred to the National germ plasm bank for safekeeping.