The inaugural expo provided for a technical speakers’ programme, agricultural-related companies to exhibit their vast range of products, rounds of golf, and an evening with well-known Springbok, Butch James and rugby player, Craig McIntosh. SA Canegrowers, SASRI and the FAS Agricultural Laboratory attended the expo and had stalls on both days, along with 55 other exhibitors. SA Canegrowers and SASRI scientists had time slots for presentations and welcomed growers and other stakeholders to the stand for information and conversation. The other exhibits displayed produce, technologies, innovations, implements, machinery, vehicles, and new methods of conducting farming activities.
The technical sugarcane presentations brought a rather unique ‘conference-esque’ spin to the show with internationally-recognised specialists presenting their published scientific and economic research. The focus was on technologies relevant to sugarcane farming, whose application or use may boost income and save costs, to promote the sustainability of sugarcane farming in a forever-changing agricultural environment.
Growers were given a chance to interact with specialists through these talks, allowing them to expand their knowledge on scientific advances being made in the industry.
Below is the list of speakers and topics covered:
Dr Abraham Singels
Review of the SA Sugar industry 2017/18 season as well as an insightful discussion into questioning whether less rainfall could be the new ‘normal’.
Effects of surface applied lime and gypsum on soil properties and yields of sugarcane ratoon crops.
Dr Neil Miles
Prediction of the contribution of soil nitrogen mineralisation to crop fertiliser nitrogen requirements.
Dr Riekert van Heerden
A new decision-making framework for developing variety specific chemical ripening recommendations.
Analysis of long-term rainfall in the Felixton mill supply area: An investigation of derivatives as a hedging mechanism against drought. Howes also demonstrated the Womoba drone and took aerial photographs of the expo.
Dr Thomas Funke
Biogas from sugar cane: A system for sustainability.
The event brought together a confluence of interests, from those who prefer a local platform to learn about scientific research to family-orientated fun. There were even drone demonstrations for the tech-savvy growers and helicopter flips for the whole family. The relaxed setting, array of activities and great weather created an ideal environment for networking opportunities. The show was a success in its very first year and a date has already been set for the next event. Be sure to diarise the weekend of 26 April 2019 for a weekend of MAXimum fun.
To keep up to date with future events or to check out this year’s show, Like and Share the Monzi Agri Expo Facebook page.
Kerisha Raghunandan is SASRI’s Publications Officer and Theuns Theunissen is Canegrowers’ Regional Manager: Northern Zululand & Elephant Coast