Reports / Research Reports / 2014/2015 / 2014 Overview

Research Report 2014/2015

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General overview


The PRF mission and vision appear elsewhere in this annual research report. The main objectives may be defined, briefly, as striving to replace imported protein for animal consumption with locally produced protein. Early in its existence, the PRF Board realised that there should be an instrument to measure the PRF's success and its own objectives. The use of the Nieuwoudt-McGuigan model, followed by the APR model were discussed in previous research reports. Particulars are also available on the PRF web site. Due to practical reasons over the past few years, it was decided to upgrade the Agricultural Products Requirement (APR) model. The work was done under guidance of Dr E Briedenhann, creator of the APR model, assisted by Prof F Meyer, Board member, but also the Bureau for Food and Agricultural Policy (BFAP) Director at UP. They were assisted by Dr Dirk Strydom, of the Free State University. The first results obtained with the upgraded model will be available in 2015.

The importance of technology transfer became more apparent and enjoyed much attention, locally and internationally. The international liaison with the PRF, helped the PRF to intercept the lack of research capacity and researchers in South Africa with the assistance of a number of international institutions (Read about the Elite Trials Project elsewhere in this report). As in the past years, various missions of international partners were accommodated in terms of Elite Trials. Similarly, international visits were facilitated. Mr Wessel van Wyk, soybean expert and PRF contractor visited Argentina as guest of DOW Agro Science. He also visited Zambia with Syngenta. The PRF, in co-operation with ARC, supported the South American visit of Drs S Lamprecht and Y Tewoldemedhin, to offer these two plant pathologists more exposure to corrective measures applied in South America to curb various diseases, pests and insects. Messrs GJH Scholtemeijer and AP Theron visited Europe on business and attended a canola congress. They also visited Brazil to observe soybean aspects. A new TCP (Technical Co-Operation Programme) was negotiated with EMBRAPA in Brazil during the visit.

In an attempt to ensure more effective technology transfer, the PRF became involved in various bulletin publications and magazines, specifically Luptec and Lupino, relating to the lupine industry, followed by Canola Focus that remains very popular. In terms of Canola Focus, the PRF resolved to apply new technology by phasing out published hard copy magazines in favour of an electronically published magazine.

For a number of years the possibility of a soybean magazine was contemplated, but a single industry did not really justify it. In 2014, Dr E Briedenhann, member of the PRF Technology Committee and vice-chairperson of the Oilseeds Advisory Committee, launched an initiative to publish an oilseeds magazine, "Oilseeds Focus". The first edition was published in 2015, to great joy of all participants within the oilseeds industry, including soybeans, sunflower, groundnuts and canola.

At an Executive Committee think tank, it was recommended that documentation used for bursary applications, funding applications for projects and other similar documents be checked to make them more user-friendly and present them in a more modern format to the benefit of potential users.

On the other hand, it is also true that projects that had been funded for the past 20 years or longer, have become very expensive. Currently the PRF considers whether, national cultivar trials in particular and in their current format, should be continued. A decision about this will be announced in 2015/16.

Based on the increased awareness of the importance of technology transfer, the Board also decided to redeploy contractors. Emphasis will be on the provinces with the best potential to establish soybean production in new areas.

The PRF noticed that there are various bottlenecks to resolve in terms of both canola and soybeans, before it will be possible to secure the best yields. Sclerotinia is the biggest enemy and the Board resolved that it is important to remain informed of the latest developments relating to sclerotinia in both canola and soybeans. In addition, root knot nematodes enjoy significant attention, particularly in sandy soil areas where it is difficult to grow soybeans. Findings in terms of these aspects and other problems, as well as the latest reportable news remain important parts of generic marketing. In this regard, the PRF can report, with true gratitude, that a hundred and four articles of importance to the PRF activities were published during the past year. Of those, sixty six were about soybeans and the other related mainly to canola.

As in the past, Board members attended various congresses and AGMs of technological associations and similar bodies. Sponsorships were approved in terms of various successful applicants, as well as other deserving congresses such as the annual "Soilborne Plant Diseases Symposium" held in Stellenbosch and the now well-known "No-Till Club" in KwaZulu-Natal.