In order to be at the forefront of technological developments in agriculture, the Department provides timely and relevant research and technology development services in the six districts of the Western Cape. This ensures that all the agricultural role-players of the Western Cape are provided with the most advanced scientific and technical advice. Converting the research rand into an information rand is of utmost importance – this means that scientific information should reach the commercial and smallholder farmer at farm level, making our farmers more sustainable and competitive on local, national and international markets.
Because industrial development places tremendous pressure on our natural resources, the Department’s resource scientists and geographical information centre play a prominent role to ensure the optimum utilisation of our scarce resources, soil, water and natural vegetation. The agricultural practises which we apply and research are all focussed on optimal resource-use efficiency. The identification and prioritisation of research needs are of utmost importance, and networking with industry organisations and other partners are continuously strengthened and expanded.
The Programme is structured into the sub-programmes Research, Technology Transfer Services and Infrastructure Support Services and operates as the Directorates Animal Sciences; Plant Sciences and Research Support Services. The latter Directorate includes the sub-directorates Analytical Services and Farm Services.
The research portfolio of the Department is executed mainly within the Directorates of Animal Sciences and Plant Sciences, with a smaller research portfolio in the Directorate Research Support Services. The Programme also has seven research farms serving as open-air laboratories to support our research efforts in the districts of the Western Cape.
The Directorate: Research Support Services (Programme: Research and Technology Development Services) renders both decision support services and analytical services to our research team as well as external stakeholders. An analytical laboratory for soil, water and plant analyses and a diagnostic service for plant diseases provides a key service to scientists and producers in the Western Cape. It also provides soil science, climatological (risk and potential management), crop estimates and spatial analysis services (GIS) to an array of clients.
The Directorate: Animal Sciences conducts research on aspects of herd management, breeding, nutrition and welfare of dairy cattle, sheep, ostriches, and, to a lesser extent, aquaculture. The main focus of the research programme is to improve production efficiency, which contributes to the increase of nett profit and in turn the assurance of food security. The transfer of technology information to stakeholders forms an inseparable part of the research programme and new information from research efforts are published in both scientific and popular formats. This expertise is also transferred directly to farmers and relevant industries via advice and talks provided by the research scientists at the Directorate. Extensive research facilities includes a feeds laboratory, whilst the Directorate maintains eleven herds and flocks of national importance which are crucial in the research effort.
Did you know that the Directorate: Animal Sciences
- Conducts research in the programmes of feeding, breeding/genomics and management of dairy cattle, sheep, ostriches and aquaculture?
- Focusses its research on improving efficiency of production under a variety of environments?
- Has a world-renowned ostrich research team and facilities?
- Has two dairy research facilities at Outeniqua and Elsenburg?
- Executes projects at Nortier, Langgewens, Elsenburg, Tygerhoek, Oudsthoorn and Outeniqua and on various farms of producers?
- Collaborates with various tertiary institutions locally, nationally and internationally on various research programmes and projects?
The Directorate: Plant Sciences focuses on the areas of sustainable agronomic, vegetable, rangeland and pasture production systems, alternative crops, crop protection in the areas of weed science, plant pathology and entomology, as well as soil studies.
Did you know that the Directorate: Plant Sciences
- Conducts research on Conservation Agriculture in grain systems, potato production systems, as well as pasture systems for dairy?
- Has the only dairy pasture research group in South Africa linking biological soil management with pasture management and milk production, quality and ultimately gross margins for producers?
- Is pioneering soil biological research in pastures in the Southern Cape?
- Conducts research programmes on natural pastures and veld management, production of indigenous seed for arid areas, weed science, entomology, plant pathology, cultivar evaluation, vegetables and alternative crops?
- Has a diagnostic service for plant diseases?
- Executes research at Nortier, Langgewens, Worcester, Elsenburg, Tygerhoek and Outeniqua Research Farms?
- Has glass houses, laboratories, two indigenous seed production units at Worcester and near Lamberts Bay, implements and equipment for field trials?
- Executes large research trials on privately owned farms in the Southern Cape, which are now research hubs for the Western Cape in the field of grain production systems?
- Collaborates with various tertiary institutions in the Western Cape and other provinces, the ARC and various industry organisations?
The Directorate Research Support Services renders a support service to our research team and external stakeholders. An analytical laboratory for soil, water and plant analyses provides a pivotal service to scientists and producers in the Western Cape. It also provides soil science, climatological (risk and potential management), crop estimates and spatial analysis services (GIS) to an array of clients. The Directorate also includes infrastructure support services (farm services) with our research farms situated at Nortier (near Lamberts Bay), Langgewens (near Moorreesburg), Elsenburg, Worcester (Veld reserve), Tygerhoek (near Riviersonderend), Outeniqua (near George) and Oudtshoorn and operate as open-air laboratories where research projects of particular importance for that region, are executed. Projects and trials are frequently visited by producers and other role-players from these regions. Our farms also serve as research hubs for tertiary institutions, locally and abroad, and the institutes of the ARC.
Did you know that the Directorate: Research Support Services
- Also conducts research in the programmes of spatial analysis (GIS), risk and potential management and knowledge management?
- Conducts research on climate change and its impact on the crop industry in the Western Cape?
- Has extensive GIS expertise, infrastructure and equipment and provides decision making tools to internal and external clients?
- Plays a critical role in terms of the provision of information regarding crop estimates and the state of agriculture in the Western Cape?
- Serves a wide provincial and national client base, including other departments, local government, agri-businesses, other stakeholders and farmers?
The Western Cape Department of Agriculture manages 8 research farms in the Western Cape. Our scientists and technicians use these farms to conduct a wide range of experiments and research studies with the aim of improving all aspects of agricultural production in the province.