Welcome to the second edition of the SmartAgri Barometer of 2019/2020


Climate change and the real effects of this challenge on countries all over the world is ever so evident with the media having a difficult time to cover all the stories related to climate change and the impact on especially the agricultural sector.

Our actions in mitigating and adapting to climate change is continuing at a rapid rate. In this edition, we bring you once again a very full basket of climate smart articles and we hope you enjoy the read. Please also disseminate to other interested parties!

For those who have not read about the SmartAgri plan, or seen our previous editions of SmartAgri Barometer, please visit or


During the second week of August, the Conservation Agriculture Western Cape (CAWC) Association presented their 7th Annual Conservation Agriculture (CA) Conference, consisting of a lecture and practical day. The CAWC, BLWK in Afrikaans, was formed 8 years ago and the association strives to enhance the knowledge base of CA in the Western Cape. The 2018 conference was presented in association with Landbouweekblad.



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The SmartAgri plan completed in 2016 by the department in collaboration with DEA&DP, and in its third year of implementation, serves as the roadmap for the sector and the department in adapting to, and mitigating, the challenges of climate change. The design and implementation of the plan will be evaluated in the 2019/2020 financial year and the outcomes of the evaluation will be used to improve the plan to ensure a more resilient sector and department.


Die Kwik Styg 2

Climate change is here to stay! Stay tuned on RSG on Friday afternoons at 12:45 when Lizma van Zyl, our presenter, informs, educates and empowers South Africans on climate change and relevant subject matters with world renowned experts as her studio guests.

Not close to a radio? Download the podcasts on or
The programme is funded by the Western Cape Department of Agriculture with Dr Ilse Trautmann as project leader.


Five years after the external evaluation of the Langgewens long-term trial in which producers farming on sandy soil indicated their need to have a similar trial based on their soil type, the first Hopefield Sand Field Day of the Western Cape Department of Agriculture was held during September.


The trial was established in 2018 and with the aid of the technical committee serving the trial it was decided to enlarge the trial area to include 8 more plots. Four of these were planted to cash crops and 4 to fodder crops. These are areas open to smaller trials such as cultivar evaluation of barley, canola, legumes and wheat.


Agriculture is periodically impacted by drought and other climatic disasters. Farmers across the Western Cape were harshly reminded of this during the recent severe drought (2015-2018 and ongoing in the Little Karoo). While individual droughts cannot be attributed to the changing climate, scientists at the University of Cape Town have calculated that the likelihood of this drought was increased by a factor of three as a result of the human influence on the climate. The accompanying high temperatures strengthened the impacts of this drought. A very similar situation is currently playing out across eastern Australia. Multi-year low rainfalls and extreme high temperatures have had a devastating effect on agriculture. Southern Queensland, for example, is experiencing the worst drought in living memory and dams are almost empty. Some farmers have been buying water from elsewhere to cart to their fields and animals. Further south in New South Wales and Victoria the situation is also very concerning.


African Youth Agripreneur Forum 2019

This year's African Youth Agripreneur Forum (AYAF), held for the first time in South Africa, focused on climate smart agriculture and innovations that make producers more resilient to climate change. The event had speakers from various sectors in the industry discussing key issues, as well as a pitching competition for innovative start-ups.


Agri-processing sector and sub-sector economic water resilience

The Department of Economic Development and Tourism (DEDAT) undertook the agri-processing sector and sub-sector economic water resilience project in the 2018/19 financial year. This project aimed to understand and reduce water-related risks to and build water resilience in the agri-processing sector and selected sub-sectors (dairy and fruit & vegetables). This sector was prioritised due to being a high employer in the Western Cape (79 000 workers), highly water intensive, key to the agricultural value chain (linked to major exports), the core of many municipal economies outside of the metro and a project Khulisa sector. .


Energy is one of the largest inputs to a business. There is a strong business case for investment into energy efficiency and renewable energy due to increasing electricity prices and uncertainty of supply, as well as decreasing technology costs.

10% of all Solar PV installations in SA is in the agricultural sector, with investment estimated at between R630 − 960 million of which R94 − 144 million is in the Western Cape. This translates into an installed capacity of 60MWp .


Undercover farming (UF) is a way of farming that allows for more favourable growth conditions, compared to open field farming. It aims to improve input efficiencies and quality of produce and is largely driven by climatic uncertainties. As shown in Figure 1 below, UF includes several forms of agriculture, e.g. controlled environment agriculture (CEA), indoor farming and vertical farming.


Climate explained: how much of climate change is natural? How much is man-made?

As someone who has been working on climate change detection and its causes for over 20 years I was both surprised and not surprised that I was asked to write on this topic by The Conversation. For nearly all climate scientists, the case is proven that humans are the overwhelming cause of the long-term changes in the climate that we are observing. And that this case should be closed.


Young people march against climate change

Thousands of young people in Cape Town joined their counterparts worldwide on the 20th of September 2019 in Cape Town. They are part of the African Climate Alliance and demanded more effective government action on climate change issues.

See below a press release from the Western Cape Government and the demands of the young people.


Interested persons who would like to get more information on SmartAgri and its related actions, are invited to contact Dr Trautmann and Prof Midgley. Please subscribe to the SmartAgri Barometer if  you would like to be updated on a regular basis.

Newsletter compiled by:

Dr Ilse Trautmann (Chief Director: Research and Technology Development))
Arie van Ravenswaay - Newsletter designer(Assistant Director: Innovation, Technology Design and Transfer)


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