Research Report 2014/2015



Projects finalised successfuly or that showed progress (Annexures I and II)



Evaluation of PRF soybean elite lines under South African conditions

GP de Beer and WF van Wyk
Contractors, Protein Research Foundation

The PRF soybean Elite trials (2014/15) were planted at six localities:

  • Stoffberg – Representative of the northern Highveld
  • UP (Hatfield) – Representative of the southern Highveld
  • Brits – Representative of the warm Northern irrigation area – full irrigation
  • Potchefstroom – Representative of the western production area
  • Bethlehem – Representative of the eastern and northern Free State
  • Ukulinga (Pietermaritzburg) – Representative of KwaZulu-Natal

Sixty (60) lines from five different institutions from South America, together with five local controls were planted at the six localities to determine their adaptability to local conditions. The maturity groups differ from M.G. 4.0 to M.G. 7.0. Some of the lines delivered higher grain yields than the five local cultivars used as controls and should be considered for registration as cultivars locally.

This project, without a doubt, delivers information that can benefit the local soybean seed market and industry and should definitely be continued.



National soybean cultivar trials

AS de Beer, N de Klerk, NN Mogapi, HSJ Vermeulen and RC Ramatlotlo
ARC-Grain Crops Institute, Potchefstroom

A total of twenty seven and thirty one cultivars were evaluated, respectively for the 2012/13 and 2013/14 seasons in 45 field trials scattered over the production area representing the cool, moderate and warm areas. Conventional as well as GM cultivars were included in the trials and the trials executed in a conventional way (i.e. no Roundup application). A randomised complete-block design with three replicates was used for all field trials. Date of flowering (50% flowering), date of harvest maturity, length of growing season, plant height, pod height, green stem, lodging, shattering, 100 seeds mass, undesirable seed, protein – and oil percentage and seed yield was determined and the yield reliability of cultivars calculated. Yield reliabilities served as guidelines for cultivar selection. The mean number of days from planting to 50% flowering of cultivars for the cool, moderate and warm areas was respectively 74, 66 and 48 days. The overall mean oil content for cultivars was 17.95% for the cool, 19.19%for the moderate and 19.83% for the warm areas.

The overall mean protein content was 37.63% (cool), 37.26% (moderate) and 37.03% (warm). The overall mean yield was 3003 kg ha-1 for the cooler areas, 2773 kg ha-1 for the moderate and 3185 kg ha-1 for the warm areas. Cultivars with a high stability are important in the selection of cultivars by producers due to the reliability of the expected future yield. Cultivars which had high stabilities over the reporting period were Heron, Ibis 2000 and Dundee for the cooler areas, Marula and Sonop for the moderate areas as well as for the warmer areas. Cultivars with an above average reliability at yield targets from 1000 to 4000 kg ha-1 for three seasons or more can be considered the long-term high performers and deserve special mentioning. These cultivars were LS 61 64 R for the cooler areas, LS 6161 R, Sonop, PAN 1583 R, and Marula for the moderate areas as well as Egret, LS 6161 R, PAN 1666 R and PHB 95 Y 40 R for the warmer areas.



Etiology and population structure of Macrophomina phaseolina (charcoal rot) in sunflower and soybeans in South Africa

E Jordaan and JE van der Waals
University of Pretoria

This research aims to answer questions about the diversity of the Macrophomina phaseolina populations in sunflower and soybean growing regions in South Africa; and whether this diversity could be attributed to geography, environment and/or cropping practices. More than 100 isolates will be obtained from infected sunflower and soybean plants. Genetic diversity will be evaluated with the use of microsatellite markers and this will be compared to the diversity found in other in vitro screening trials. These in vitro trials will focus on growth rate of the pathogen under different temperatures, pH and in the presence of copper+/chlorate. Each isolate will then be compared for its pathogenicity and virulence on sunflower and soybeans in pot trials and in vitro and effect on seed germination. We will then be able to estimate if isolates group together based on geography, environment and/or cropping practices.

During sampling and isolation, in vitro trials were optimized using seven M. phaseolina isolates isolated from maize (2), potato (3), carrot and an olive tree to determine if the in vitro studies will be able to detect variations between the isolates. Thus far the areas sampled from include Dwaalboom in Greytown, Koedoeskop in Limpopo, Bronkhorstspruit, Petrus Steyn, Settlers, Bothaville, Wesselsbron, Frankfort and Brits. More than 150 M. phaseolina isolates have been obtained from these different areas throughout South Africa. Based on the results from the growth rate vs. temperature pilot in vitro trial the South African isolates grow faster than what is mentioned in literature. At 4°C none of the isolates grew, while at 45°C the carrot isolate had the highest growth rate, followed by one potato isolate and the olive isolate. No growth was observed for the other isolates at 45°C. For all isolates 25°C to 28°C was the optimal temperature for growth. In the growth rate vs. pH pilot in vitro trial the seven isolates were grouped into two distinct groups. Group one grew 20-30mm/day (olive, both maize and one potato isolate) irrespective of the pH, while group 2 grew 40-55mm/day (carrot and two potato isolates) and showed a slight increase in growth rate with an increase in pH from 4.5 to 7.5. From the growth rate vs. copper+/chlorate concentration pilot in vitro trial, copper at a concentration of 2.4mM showed a reducing effect on the growth rate of the isolates. Potassium and sulfate did not influence growth rate, while chloride affected growth rate at much higher concentrations.

Finally a visual severity assessment key has been developed for M. phaseolina on sunflower and soybean seed, based on germination. Based on the pilot in vitro seed pathogenicity/virulence test potato, carrot and olive isolates caused 50-85% disease severity regardless of the presence of sunflower or soybean as host. The maize isolates however showed 20-50% disease severity on sunflower and 65-70% disease severity on soybeans.

This research will aid researchers and the industry in better understanding the growth rate of the pathogen under different temperature and pH conditions. A better understanding of the diversity in the Macrophomina population will give insight into areas of resistance breeding against charcoal rot. Pathogenicity and virulence trials will provide information about host preference and will allow for more effective crop rotation strategies and also aid in developing methods for quick screening of cultivar susceptibility to charcoal rot. Results will also give an idea of the reducing effect infection have on yield and the effect of cropping practices, geography and environment on the pathogen and subsequently on the disease incidence and severity. Future research from this project could be focused on resistance breeding, or screening for tolerant sunflower and soybean cultivars. With a better understanding of the population structure the movement of the pathogen can be monitored. Should a biological or chemical control become available, this research can aid in the forecasting of disease incidence and severity, and the need for application of control methods. Upon completion of the project, results will be published in peer review articles in scientific journals, articles in local media such as Farmers Weekly and presented at farmer days.



Management strategies for soybean soilborne diseases in South Africa

YT Tewoldemedhin and SC Lamprecht
ARC-Plant Protection Research Institute

In the surveys conducted in South Africa in cultivar trials and farmers' fields, 71 fungal and oomycete species were obtained from soybean crowns, hypocotyls, cotyledons and roots. Of the 71 fungal and oomycete species, Fusarium (F. begoniae, F. graminearum, F. oxysporum, F. solani) were among the root rot causing species, while Pythium spp. and R. solani (P. aphanidermatum, P. heterothallicum, P. irregulare, P. ultimum, R. solani AG-2-2 IIIB and R. solani AG-4 HG-III) caused root rot and/or damping-off. However, Sclerotium rolfsii is reported to cause southern blight and Diaporthe/Phomopsis spp. complex are causal agents of stem blight in South Africa. These soilborne diseases of soybean are reported to cause yield losses of up to 70% and in some cases plant losses and yield reductions of 100% have been reported in very susceptible soybean cultivars. In other countries, it is clear that integrated management strategies that include at least seed treatment, resistance/tolerance and proper crop rotation are essential to sustainably manage soilborne diseases of soybean in South Africa. Although management strategies have been tested in other countries, they have not been properly tested and applied in South Africa. In order to improve yield through management of soilborne diseases of soybean, it is necessary to evaluate these strategies under local conditions. Therefore the aims of the current study were to conduct glasshouse bioassays to control of pre- and/or post-emergence damping off, root rot, southern blight and stem blight of soybean by investigating

  • fungicide seed treatments
  • screening commercially available South African soybean cultivars for tolerance / resistance and
  • screening pre-crops as rotation crops to reduce disease pressure.

Apron XL (a.i. mefenoxam), Celest XL (a. i. fludioxonil + mefenoxam), DynastyCST (a. i. azoxystrobin + fludioxonil + mefenoxam), Maxim Quatro (a. i. thiabendazole + azoxystrobin + fludioxonil + mefenoxam), EverGol Energy (a. i. penflufen + prothioconazole + metalaxyl) and mixture of Apron XL (a. i. mefenoxam) + Celest XL (a. i. fludioxonil + mefenoxam) fungicides were evaluated as seed treatments for their effects on survival, growth and root rot of seedlings in soil infested with Fusarium spp. (F. begoniae, F. graminearum, F. negundis, F. oxysporum, F. solani), Pythium spp. (P. aphanidermatum, P. heterothallicum, P. irregulare, P. ultimum), and Rhizoctonia solani (AG-2-2 IIIB and AG-4 HG-III). The results obtained in the fungicide seed treatment trials showed that pre- and post-emergence damping-off of soybean caused by important soilborne pathogens of soybean can be effectively controlled by the mixture of Apron XL and Celest XL when applied as seed treatment. Even though application of Apron XL is effective in reducing damage caused by Pythium species, it was not effective against R. solani AG-4 HGIII. This is mainly due to the fact that mefenoxam is the only active ingredient in Apron XL, which was designed to control oomycetes including Pythium species. In addition, Celest XL was also effective in reducing damage caused by R. solani AG-4 HGIII. Though, Celest XL reduced damping-off of soybeans caused by Pythium species, it was not as effective as the mixture of Apron XL and Celest XL. Therefore, in order to get the most benefit from a seed treatment program, applying the two chemicals together would address the need of the grower tremendously. However, this result needs to be confirmed in the next season. DynastyCST and Maxim Quatro were not performing as effective as the mixture of Apron XL and Celest XL, although their active ingredients also contain fludioxonil and mefenoxam. However, during the visit to the Argentinian seed treatment facility, Dr M. Scandiani pointed out that the active ingredient azoxystrobin found in both DynastyCST and Maxim Quatro affect seed germination negatively. Therefore, in Argentina the product Maxim Evolution which contains the same three active ingredients included in Maxim Quatro, but without the azoxystrobin is used and it proved to be much more effective than Maxim Quatro. Our effort to import a sample of Maxim Evolution from Argentina for research purposes was unfortunately not successful.

Twenty-seven soybean cultivars were evaluated against important soilborne pathogens of soybean (Diaporthe phaseolorum var. meridionale, Phomopsis longicolla, F. begoniae, F. graminearum, F. negundis, F. oxysporum, F. solani, F. virguliforme, P. aphanidermatum, P. heterothallicum, P. irregulare, P. ultimum, R. solani AG-2-2 IIIB and R. solani AG-4 HG-III, Sclerotinia sclerotiorum and Sclerotium rolfsii) under glasshouse conditions in order to determine resistance/tolerance in South African commercially available cultivars. From the results obtained, it is clear that there are differences in cultivar tolerance / resistance against the most important soilborne disease causing pathogens of soybean. For instance cultivar soy8 is highly susceptible to F. begoniae, F. negundis, F. oxyporum, and all species of Pythium and Rhizoctonia. In addition, tolerance reaction of cultivars differed against different species. For example, cultivar soy14 was found to have the highest resistance against R. solani AG-4 HGIII, but was susceptible to P. ultimum and Sclerotium rolfsii. Cultivar soy21 showed tolerance / resistance against all pathogens evaluated. All of the cultivars evaluated appears to be susceptible to F. virguliforme and S. sclerotiorum. Therefore, selecting a cultivar, with tolerance / resistance against soilborne diseases to plant in a field with a known soilborne disease problem, knowledge of the main causal organisms is essential. This is important, since most of the cultivars tend to have different reactions to different species of soilborne pathogens.

In order to investigate whether soilborne pathogens of soybean (F. begoniae, F. graminearum, F. negundis, F. oxysporum, F. solani, P. aphani­der­matum, P. heterothallicum, P. irregulare, P. ultimum, R. solani AG-2-2 IIIB and R. solani AG-4 HGIII) can affect the pre-soybean (rotation) crops that are used as rotation crops with soybean, six crops were identified and evaluated under glasshouse bioassays. The results of this study revealed that drybean is affected by all the Pythium species that are important soilborne pathogens of soybean. In addition, sunflower, sorghum, and wheat are also affected by Pythium and R. solani AG-4 HGIII. These pathogens caused considerable damping-off and root rot on these crops. The interesting observation was that important soilborne pathogens of soybean such as P. aphanidermatum, P. heterothallicum, P. ultimum var. ultimum and R. solani AG-2-2 induced significant damping-off on yellow maize (Maize1) as well. However, white maize (Maize2) was not affected by the presence of these pathogens in the soil. Therefore, in the absence of other management strategies it is important to rotate soybean crops with white maize in order to reduce the inoculum pressure for the following soybean crop without significantly compromising the production of the preseason crop.

Three management strategies were evaluated. Among the fungicides evaluated, potential fungicides suitable and effective as seed treatment on soybean were identified. Of the screened cultivars those with tolerance / resistance against the most important pathogens of soybean were also identified. Pre-crops (rotation crops) that are either non-hosts or have some degree of tolerance to the soybean pathogens were also identified, which will render them suitable as rotation crops. The ideal practice in combating soilborne diseases of soybean is to combine the best of the three strategies. This will ensure the sustainability of the management practice with considerably lower input costs. However, the results of this study need to be verified to be considered reliable. The repeat of this study is currently commencing and it will be available for the next progress report.



Studies on Lecanicillium muscarium as a myco­parasite of the soybean rust fungus, Phakopsora pachyrhizi

KS Yobo
University of KwaZulu-Natal

The soybean rust (SBR) fungus, Phakopsora pachyrhizi, causes significant crop losses in many soybean growing regions of the World. Different disease management tactics have been tested against SBR. These include use of fungicides, cultural practices and genetic resistance. At present the use of fungicides appears to be the only effective approach to controlling the disease. In South Africa, triazole and strobilurin fungicides are the most used groups of fungicides against SBR. However, fungicide resistance have been reported in Brazil to the triazoles. A few biocontrol agents have been tested against SBR fungus in an effort to find a more effective approach to manage the disease. These include agents such as Simplicillium lanosoniveum.

Coffee leaves infected with coffee rust, which were hyperparasitized by Lecanicillium sp. were sourced from the Assagay Coffee Farm in Cato Ridge, South Africa. From these samples, the potential mycoparasite L. muscarium was isolated on Sabouraud Dextrose Yeast Extract agar medium, which was used as a semi-selective media. The fungus was identified as Lecanicillium muscarium on the basis of ITS sequences and morphological aspects.

Bioassay studies using detached soybean leaves inoculated with P. pachyrhizi were conducted under controlled laboratory conditions. These demonstrated pathogenesis by L. muscarium hyphae on SBR sori.

The first co-inoculation studies of L. muscarium and P. pachyrhizi on soybean was done in the UKZN Plant Pathology disease garden. Observations were made using an Environmental Scanning Electron Microscope (ESEM). These captured the interactions between L. muscarium and P. pachyrhizi urediniospores. Long L. muscarium phialides were observed penetrating and wrapping tightly around P. pachyrhizi urediniospores (fig. 3 A and B).

Figure 3

(A): L. muscarium phialides surrounding and squeezing tightly SBR urediniospores and (B): penetration of L. muscarium inside urediniospore.

Figure showing A: L. muscarium phialides surrounding and squeezing tightly SBR urediniospores and (B): penetration of L. muscarium inside urediniospore

A study on optimum growth conditions for L. muscarium was done for both mycelia growth and for sporulation. Four different media (malt extract agar, potato dextrose agar, Sabouraud dextrose agar, and V-8 tomato juice agar) were used at five different temperatures (18, 21, 24, 25 and 28ºC). Mycelial growth was measured every two day for a period of 30 days. At 24ºC V-8 juice agar was the best medium for mycelial growth, with a mean of 52.2mm radial mycelia growth. A temperature of 24ºC was the best for mycelial growth on all four different media.

For conidia production, six different sources of substrates, viz, rice, millet cereal, pearl barley, digestive wheat bran and oats were used. Conidia were counted using a haemocytometer. The best substrate for production of conidia was millet cereal with a mean of 4.15×109 conidia ml-1.

Greenhouse trials were conducted to determine the most effective L. muscarium inoculum dose for field application. Three L. muscarium dosages were used (104, 106 and 108 conidia ml-1). It was found that 106 and 108 conidia ml-1 were the most effective in reducing rust infection under greenhouse conditions. Nevertheless, all the three L. muscarium doses were used for field application.

Field studies

Three treatments were used to monitor the effect of Lecanicillium muscarium in the field, (104, 106 and 108 L. muscarium conidia ml-1). The commonly used fungicide (Score) was included as a positive control to compare with L. muscarium. The fungicide was applied twice. The first spray was applied on the first sign of rust appearance and after 14 days. The biocontrol agent was applied the same time as the fungicide. The disease was assessed weekly for 7 weeks and data analysed using Area Under the Disease Progress Curve before subjected to (Analysis of Variance (ANOVA) analysis using SAS (Version 9.3).

There was no significant difference between the fungicide (Score) and two L. muscarium application doses (106 and 108). The three application doses of L. muscarium (104, 106 and 108) and Score reduced AUDPC units of the P. pachyrhizi control treatment from 1716 to 457, 202, 1186 and 172 AUDPC units respectively. L. muscarium and Score effectively reduced disease levels under field condition. However this is the first field test and will be repeated later this year.



Cultivar evaluation of oil and protein seeds in the winter rainfall area: Western and Southern Cape

PJA Lombard, L Smorenburg and JA Strauss
Department of Agriculture: Western Cape

National cultivar trials

The Western Cape Department of Agriculture conducted a range of cultivar trials during the 2014 season in the Swartland and Southern Cape. In the Southern Cape eight trials were planted and the data sets of six of these trials were used (2 were not statistically significant). In the Swartland seven trials were planted and only one trial was not harvested (herbicide damage).

At Langgewens the total rainfall during the growing season was below average, with only June and August showing above average rainfalls. The Swartland experienced a dry spell during September and October. Below-average rainfall during the spring in both the Swartland and Rûens coupled with above average minimum temperatures during August (+ 1.5ºC), shortened the growing season. At Tygerhoek the total rainfall during the growing season was above average. Above average rainfall during January and April created favorable seedbed conditions and therefore good germination. Tygerhoek received double the long-term average rainfall during June, but was followed by low rainfall during August and September. The minimum temperature at Tygerhoek during August, was 1.95ºC higher than the long term average.

White leaf spot occurred at Grasrug and some other localities, however the disease was controlled chemically and the yield was acceptable after initial leaf loss. The average yield in the Swartland (2468 kg ha-1) was higher than in 2013 (2003 kg ha-1). This result can be attributed to very good cultivars and less TT-cultivars in the trial. The trial averages for the Swartland ranged between 2135.5 kg ha-1, for Eendekuil, and 2867 kg ha-1, at Langgewens (1st planting). Belinda was the conventional variety with the highest yield in 2014, followed by Hyola 50. The CL-cultivar 45Y88 produced the highest yield in the Swartland. The best TT cultivar was hybrid CB Atomic HT. The average yield of the TT cultivars was 17.3% lower than that of the conventional cultivars.

The average yield in the Rûens ranged between 1302.2 kg ha-1, at Swellendam, and 2855 kg ha-1, at Tygerhoek (2nd planting). The yield of the 2nd planting was higher than the 1st planting (white leaf spot occurred at Tygerhoek 1). The conventional cultivar Belinda had the highest average yield in the conventional group, followed by the cultivar Hyola 50. The cultivar 45Y88 produced the highest yield in the CL-group. In the TT group Hyola 559TT produced the highest yield followed by CB Atomic HT. The average yield of TT cultivars were 8.1% lower than the that of the conventional cultivars.



Boron requirements for canola

GA Agenbag and E Kempen
Stellenbosch University

Soils of the canola producing areas in the Western Cape often show low boron contents (< 5 mg kg-1 hot water extraction) and because boron is one of the eight essential micronutrients required for normal growth and development of most plants and canola (Brassica napus) has a high demand for boron, boron may be a yield limiting factor in these areas. For this reason a field study was conducted during the period 2012-2014 at Altona and Langgewens in the Swartland and Roobebloem in the Southern Cape. Foliar applications of 0.5, 1.0 and 1.5 kg Solubor® (20.5% boron) per hectare were applied at either 40 or 60 or at 40 and 60 days after planting and compared to control plots where no boron was applied. Applications at 40 and 60 days after planting, coincides in most years with the period from the start of stem elongation till before the start of flowering.

In this study, done on sandy loam soil, plants did not show boron deficiencies during flowering stage in spite of low or even deficient boron levels in the soil. Although increases in plant boron contents with boron applications were found on all localities, responses were variable and did not show a clear trend with increasing application rates or correlation with the boron content of the soil. A possible explanation for this tendency may because even the highest application rate of 1.5 kg Solubor® at both 40 and 60 days after planting add up to only 0.62 kg B ha-1 which is low when compared to rates recommended in countries such as Canada and may also explain why no toxicity symptoms on vegetative plant growthwere reported.

Boron (Solubor®) applications resulted in higher grain yields and grain oil content of canola and optimum application rates varied between 0.5 to 1.5 kg Solubor® ha-1 for different years at the same locality. Although rates of 2.0 and 3.0 kg Solubor® (applications of 1.0 and 1.5 kg at both 40 and 60 days after planting) did not show clear signs of toxicity on the canola plants, it also did not consistently resulted in higher yields and in some years even resulted in decreases in yield. For this reason an application rate of 1.0 kg ha-1 is generally recommended. Foliar applications should be done between 40 and 60 days after planting, but not later than the start of flowering.

Although these results clearly showed that foliar boron applications will help to increase the grain yield and oil content of canola produced in the Western Cape on soil with low boron contents, future research may include soil applications at time of planting and higher application rates, as recommended in some countries internationally.

Results of this study have already been presented at several Farmers' days and contributed to the general use of boron on canola in the Western Cape. Results will also be published in the South African Journal of Plant and Soil.



Sulphur (S) and nitrogen (N) canola fertilising

GA Agenbag and E Kempen
Stellenbosch University

Sulphur (S) is a very important factor affecting the grain yield of canola in the Western Cape, because canola has a very high need for sulphur and soils in these canola production areas often shows low sulphur contents. Sulphur may also help to increase the agronomic use efficiency of nitrogen. During the 2012 to 2014 production years, research was conducted on optimal application rates of sulphur and nitrogen, as well as time of application and source of sulphur on three localities in the Swartland and Southern Cape. The following results, presented on several farmers' days, have already help to stimulate the production of canola in these areas.

Sulphur applications resulted in statistically significant increases in grain yield on all localities, but no significant differences in grain yield were shown when sulphur application rates increased from 30 to 60 kg S ha-1. For this reason it is assumed that applications of 30 kg S ha-1 will be sufficient to produce high yielding canola crops in the Western Cape.

Literature showed that sulphur may successfully be use as topdressing in canola, but results of the present study did not always show increases in grain yield due to the split application of gypsum (CaSO4) between time of planting and applications at 30 and 60 days after planting. For this reason it is recommended that if gypsum is used as source of sulphur it is applied at or before planting. However, if sulphur is applied as a component of the nitrogen fertiliser, it may also be used as topdressing without any yield penalty because no significant difference in grain yield due to the source of sulphur used was, recorded.

Increases in nitrogen application rates resulted in significant increases in grain yield. Yield responses to nitrogen application rates were, however, higher if nitrogen was applied in combination with sulphur, resulting in an improvement in nitrogen use efficiency.

Although some more research is needed to determine the optimum time of application, this research has already made a meaningful contribution towards the objectives of the Protein Research Foundation to increase canola production in South Africa.



Evaluation of shortened canola production periods and the use of alternative crops for the sustainability of winter grain production under conservation farming practices on the Riversdale Flats

JA Strauss and W Langenhoven
Department of Agriculture: Western Cape

The 2014 season was the 3rd year of production of the new trial. Six cash crop systems are tested including shortened canola rotations and cover crops. A total of 60 plots were planted. The 6 systems tested are replicated 3 times and all crops within each system are represented on the field each year.

All trial areas were planted and managed according to the planned protocols (including appropriate weed, disease and insect control measures).

Riversdale received above average rainfall in the pre-season, but although enough moisture was available during the first part of the season, a lack of high rainfall events in the post season and subsequent early swathing of the crops resulted in lower yields than the 2013 season overall.

Canola production

  • Hyola 571 was planted at Riversdale at 3 kg/ha.
  • A total of 58 kg N/ha was applied to each plot (23kg N/ha at planting and 38kg N/ha topdressing).
  • Canola yields at Riversdale averaged 1430 kg/ha with all plots showing oil content above 40%. This average yield was 899 kg/ha less than in 2013.

Wheat production

  • SST027 was planted at Riversdale at 60 kg/ha.
  • A total of 61 kg N/ha was applied to each plot (20kg N/ha at planting and 38kg N/ha topdressing).
  • Wheat yields at Riversdale averaged 2657 kg/ha.

Barley production

  • Erica was planted at Riversdale at 53 kg/ha.
  • Barley yields at Riversdale averaged 3770 kg/ha.

Lupin production

  • No Mandelup was available, so a bitter lupin mix was planted at Riversdale at 100 kg/ha.
  • Lupin yields at Riversdale averaged 974 kg/ha.

Cover crops

Saia oats and a feed peas mix was planted at Riversdale at 30 kg/ha and 100 kg/ha, respectively. No other input cost occurred during the season except the herbicide cost to kill the cover crop following the information day.

Technology transfer

The following summarises presentations, reports and publications based on the crop production trials being conducted on the Riversdale data during 2014.

  • 1 Farmer's day
  • 1 technical meeting and report session



Promotion of canola as rotation crop within a conservation farming system in the dryland sowing area of the Swartland by means of a producer competition

IF Slabbert
Department of Agriculture: Western Cape

Fourteen (14) producers entered and all were evaluated. There were three participants in the Malmesbury information ward, four in the Moorreesburg ward, three in the Piketberg ward, three in the Hermon ward and one near Durbanville. Generally it was a good season. Initially the season started normally with rain at the beginning of May. Unfortunately rainfall was lower than normal in September. Temperatures were also a little above normal levels during the main flowering period in August.

At the September SKOG Day, demonstration trials and cultivar trials were inspected. The main speaker at the SKOG Day was Mr Briedenham. He talked about canola as a feed crop. Various farms where canola was planted were visited, to advise farmers.

The average yield for 2014 was 1,66 tonnes per hectare, while the average 2013 yield was 1,61 tonnes per hectare. Although the average yield for the competition was slightly higher than that for the previous year, general yields were lower.

Prizes awarded in 2014 applied only to participants with the highest yield, best gross margin and best yield per mm of rain. No prizes were awarded for runners-up.

One participant, Dirk Lesch from Malmesbury, received all three prizes. His recorded yield was 2,35 tonnes/ha, the gross margin was R5431/ha and his yield per mm of rain was 8,27 kg.



Promotion of canola as rotation crop within a conservation farming system in the dryland sowing area of the Southern Cape by means of a producer competition

JG Loubser
Contractor, Protein Research Foundation

Thirty canola producers entered the 2014 Southern Cape Canola Competition.

The information of all participants has been processed and included in the report.

The results were disclosed and discussed with the participants at the Overberg Agri Preplanting Information Day held at Rietpoel near Caledon on 12 March 2015.

The 2014 season was characterised by erratic moisture conditions.

During August the minimum temperature was 1.95°C higher than the long-term average temperature. The minimum temperature in September differed slightly from the long-term average temperature.

The growth season was shortened due to below average rainfall during spring, as well as above average temperatures which prevailed in August.

An increase in the appearance of Sclerotinia adversely affected the canola yield in some areas.

The average canola producer price was R4 150 per ton, the average yield 1.65 tons per hectare (2013 yield 2.26 ton per hectare) and the average gross margin R2 808 per hectare.

Mr Pieter Dreyer of Raka Boerdery near Caledon was the participant who achieved the highest yield of 2.160 tons per hectare.

Mr Niel Neethling of Verfheuwel Boerdery near Malgas managed rainfall most effectively with a yield of 9.022kg seed per millimetre rainfall.

The participant who achieved the best gross margin of R5 171 per hectare was Mr Willie Smal of Hammansdal Boerdery near Caledon.



The development of a biocontrol agent for snails in South Africa

A Pieterse, JL Ross and AP Malan
Stellenbosch University

European molluscs (slugs and snails) have become significant economic pests in South Africa and are known to target canola, which is an important crop that is used for the production of animal feed protein and vegetable oil in the Western Cape. Current methods for controlling molluscs rely heavily on chemical molluscicides, but these are often ineffective and toxic to non-target organisms. As a result, it is important that a method of biological control be identified. The most effective commercial method for the biological control of molluscs in Europe is the mollusc-parasitic nematode Phasmarhabditis hermaphrodita. As a result of its high virulence and broad host range, P. hermaphrodita has been commercialised as a biological molluscicide in Europe, where it is sold under the trade name of Nemaslug®. Phasmarhabditis hermaphrodita is a lethal parasite to many terrestrial molluscs, including Agriolimacidae, Arionidae, Limacidae, Milacidae and Vagnulidae. To date, this product has not been able to be sold in South Africa due to the current legislation (amendment of Act 18 of 1989, under the Agricultural Pest Act 36 of 1947), thus an indigenous product of biological control must be developed. The aim of this project is to identify a local indigenous nematode isolate that can be developed as a biological control agent for molluscs in South Africa. Several nematodes have been identified through annual surveys that have been undertaken in the Western Cape province. These isolates have been identified using molecular and morphological data, and have undergone pathogenicity tests to determine their effectiveness for controlling molluscs. One nematode, which has shown promise for controlling slugs, is now undergoing efforts to develop and culture it (through the optimisation of temperature, overcrowding, inoculum density, and bacterial growth). In addition, we have continued to survey the province in order to identify further isolates. We are also comparing the pathogenicity of local isolates with that of the commercial Nemaslug® product. In conclusion, this project aims to develop an indigenous biological molluscicide, which will have a significant impact on the agricultural, horticultural and viticulture industries in South Africa.



Development of protein and phosphor feed ingredients from fish processing waste for the animal feed industry

N Goosen
Stellenbosch University

The aim of this research is to develop the technology required to produce high quality protein and phosphorous animal feed ingredients using low value fish processing waste from capture fisheries and aquaculture as feedstock. By establishing suitable technologies to produce higher value animal feed ingredients from waste products, economic incentive can be created to encourage utilisation of waste materials. Following this approach, it is hoped that the current project will contribute to the improved utilisation of natural resources, and increase the amount of high quality animal feed ingredients required to fuel growth in intensive animal production.

The overall investigation is sub-divided into three separate projects, each of which forms the basis of a Master's study. Firstly, the optimal processing conditions are being determined to selectively recover proteins and oils from fish processing waste, through application of enzyme technology. Secondly, the extraction of essential macro minerals (especially phosphorous) from fish bone material is being optimised, employing acid leaching. The third project (commencing 2016) will investigate the quality of these two feed ingredients in animal trials.

Good progress is being made in the two projects which have commenced. All experimental equipment for the first project have been procured and commissioned, and experimental work has already yielded important data. Different hydrolytic enzymes are being matched with a particular raw material originating from a large commercial fishery, and the products recovered are being characterised. For the third project (which commenced in 2016), all experiments have been planned, and consumables and analytical chemicals have been procured for the first section of experiments.

It is anticipated that the two projects which have been initiated will be completed within budget and on time, and the final project is on track to start as planned.



Income and cost estimates of soybeans and canola and a few competitive crops

JSG Joubert and SG Ferreira
Protein Research Foundation and Agriconcept

As a continuous project, income and cost estimates were prepared during the year under review for selected crops and regions within the summer and winter rainfall regions. Income and cost estimates are considered important tools for information purposes, as well as for producer planning purposes.

They may also be applied in terms of strategic planning and policy decisions. Agriconcept (Edms) Bpk. (Mr SG Ferreira) was contracted to do the preparation annually on behalf of the PRF.

Information is obtained with the help of agri-businesses within the summer and winter rainfall areas. The information obtained are repacked and presented in a comparable and user-friendly way, in both hard copy and electronic format. The information is made available to various individuals and organisations that wish to avail themselves of the information.

Input and output costs are obtained from various sources. Where agri-businesses cannot provide the information for preparing budgets, the information is obtained through group discussions.

The areas and crops that were subject to income and cost estimates are shown in Tables 1 and 2.

Table 1
Income and cost estimates in the summer rainfall area according to crop and region
Area Irrigation / Dryland Maize Soybean Wheat Canola Groundnuts Sunflower
Loskop irrigation scheme Irrigation X X X
North West / GWK Area
Brits/Koedoeskop / Makoppa Irrigation X X X
Bergville Irrigation X X X
GWK area
Central irrigation area Irrigation X X X X X
Eastern Free State – EFS VKB area
Reitz / Petrussteyn / Bethlehem / Warden Dryland X X X X
Frankfort / Vrede Dryland X X
Piet Retief Dryland X X
Kinross Dryland X X
Bloedrivier Dryland X X
North West / NWK area
Koster Highveld Dryland X X X
Lichtenburg / Ottosdal / Sannieshof / Delareyville Dryland X X X

Table 2
Income and cost estimates in the winter rainfall area according to crop and region
Area Wheat Barley Canola
Sandveld X X
Southern Swartland X X
Mid-Swartland X X
Red Karoo X X
Overberg Agri Area
Caledon / Riviersonderend X X X
Bredasdorp / Napier X X X
Central / Southern Co-op Area
Swellendam / Heidelberg X X X



PRF website

JSG Joubert, M du Preez and Y Papadimitropoulos
Protein Research Foundation

The Protein Research Foundation web site may be compared to a living, growing "community", because content such as newsletters, statistics, harvest estimates, newsflashes, workgroup minutes and other materials are published and updated regularly. There is always something new for a visitor to investigate.

POEMS and web site content

2014/2015 was a special year for both PRF staff and web site masters. The extended POEMS system was completed by mid-2014. POEMS is an acronym for "PRF OPDT Electronic Management System". The system was developed uniquely to manage running, as well as finalised research projects from within the PRF offices.

Although the biggest functionality of the system is behind the scenes, it affects parts of information that appear on the PRF web site automatically.

The system is being integrated into the web site according to certain phases. The first phase, completed in 2014/2015, is the categorised research database that includes management summaries, articles, popular and scientific publications and general information documents relating to projects. It adjusts these automatically on the site and places information such as the status of projects on the system as these are updated in the PRF offices.

The next phase is already being developed and aims to place .pdf articles, brochures and documents relating to the respective crops that are categorised on the site, dynamically, from the system onto the site. This phase should be functioning by mid-2015.

Work has started to place finalised projects by mid-2015 within the categorised research database, with photos, including the current photo gallery available on the site. These will be integrated with links referring to the specific linked project within the research database.

Website structure

Due to programming languages such as HTML, PHP and information control languages such as MySQL that are updated regularly and that are being replaced by new versions, the web site masters are constantly working to upgrade the PRF web site, allowing the latest programming syntaxes and codes to run on the system.

Search engine visibility

To improve the visibility of the PRF web site when using search engines such as Google and Bing, algorithms and trends used by the search engines are monitored continuously. These algorithms influence how unique page titles, descriptions and key words of individual web pages are created. With the exception of page titles that appear at the top of web pages ("tabs"), only in search engines.

For example, web site content is being evaluated based on the following by search engines:

  • Content: a minimum of 300 words per page (where possible);
  • Paragraphs and sentences are evaluated and graded for readability;
  • Page content, page titles and descriptions are searched for repetition;
  • Pages with photos or videos are more beneficial;
  • Pages with internal, as well as external links, are beneficial; and
  • Unique key words or phrases must appear verbatim in the contents.

The above are only six of the about 500 and more algorithms that are adapted annually, on average, by search engines.

The PRF is proud of its "Google page ranking" of 5 awarded to the site. It indicates a sound composition of information, links and visual elements. There is always room for improvement and the web masters submitted proposals to modernise the PRF web site visually and to integrate it more with social media.

One of the measurements, to determine user value of the web site, is the number of visitors and time spent on the site, including the number of pages read. The statistics below indicate the number of visitors per reporting year, since the inception of the web site.

Reporting year Unique visitors
Raw values *
Unique visitors
Google values
Visitors Pages Pages per visit
2004 1 691
2005 3 285
2006 4 552
2007 5 404 3 041 10 838 2.79
2008 11 104 5 274 18 829 2.82
2009 10 194 6 610 27 341 3.18
2010 11 812 6 054 23 347 2.98
2011 12 357 5 511 24 258 3.29
2012 16 306 6 909 28 206 3.12
2013 54 739 8 767 34 284 2.97
2014** 54 590 10 189 39 363 3.03

* Raw values indicate total interactions measured by the web server, while Google values only measure the visitors that link to the web site using a web browser. Visitors that link to the web site again, using the same browser are not counted again.

** Partial values measured from 1 January 2014 to 28 February 2015.

From the above table it is clear that the number of unique visitors increased gradually each year, based on the Google values.

In terms of the number of pages visited, the information shows 8 216 visited during the 2014 reporting year. At inception of the site in 2004 to 2006, the Google values were not available yet.