Climate change strategies
The last nine years have been the warmest on record since 1880. This is mainly due to global warming. Going forward, we can expect even more extreme temperatures with a higher variability. Climate change in South Africa is leading to higher night temperatures and less frequent, more unpredictable rainfall than previously experienced.
Normal crop prediction becomes more complex under these circumstances, and extremely wet days add to the challenge. Soil moisture also fluctuates every year. However, globally a concerted effort is being made to alleviate global warming.
In the long term we can expect a shift in agricultural production – production will expand more northward in the northern regions (areas where production is currently not possible) of countries such as Russia, Canada and the Nordic countries. It will likely become more challenging to produce in countries such as South Africa and South America as well.
The short-term solution lies in genetic improvements and management strategies such as adjusting planting dates. Research is required in respect of multiple stress factors and simultaneous effects instead of single events. The increase in grain weight amid a reduced number of grain kernels should also be a focal area.
Bioceres in Argentina has made excellent progress by commercialising the first-of-its-kind drought-resistant wheat and soya bean products. This has been widely accepted and registered in several countries, including China and now also South Africa. This is an important intervention. At the same time, however, we must improve rain forecasts and adopt simulation models, which have been successfully used in other countries such as Australia.
Next seasons for South Africa
Even though we experienced major flooding in the Western Cape, the probability is there that South Africa could be entering some dry years in especially the northern parts of the country. Given that we know these conditions are looming, it is crucial that strategies be put in place to mitigate the effects of these drier conditions.
Enjoy this issue of Oilseeds Focus which addresses a number of the aspects referred to. Also feel free to suggest topics you feel should receive attention in our pages.
DR ERHARD BRIEDENHANN