Secretary Ross in South Africa – Drought strategies in the Western Cape

By CDFA Secretary Karen Ross

THE WESTERN CAPE, SOUTH AFRICA – We were fortunate to be able to visit one of the largest plum farms on the African continent – getting a first-hand look at strategies to further conserve water and extend crop yield.

The stone fruit industry here is dedicated to export markets – with quality, yield and storage suitability being key attributes.

At Sandriver Fruit Farm, part of the Le Roux Group, the farming operation experienced complete surface water loss for almost six weeks during the summer of 2018, because the river that runs adjacent to the farm and through the local production region ran dry. Groundwater was not an option for these farmers and as a result, many strategies and approaches are now being used to extend water-use efficiency.

It is very encouraging to see similarities between farmers in California and the Western Cape in combating climate change!

By using netting on plum orchards, Sandriver Fruit Farm can experience water savings of more than 10 percent over traditional production.
Traditional wind breaks, consisting of trees, were replaced with netting to save water. The original windbreak tree trunks are used as posts.
Composting and mulching is becoming the norm in the Western Cape to maintain soil moisture.
In the Western Cape, 100 percent of stone fruit orchards utilize water-efficient irrigation – micro-sprinker (95 percent) and drip (five percent).
At Kanonklop, a winery in Stellenbosch, we observed cover-cropping under vines to conserve water and maintain soil moisture.
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