Agricultural Engineering Services
The main function of the sub-programme: Agricultural Engineering Services is to protect the natural resources of the Western Cape with the aim of maintaining a sustainable agricultural sector.
At the same time, we also deliver a number of specialised agricultural engineering services to our clients, as well as to all the Department’s research farms in the Western Cape.
Survey of area for new buildings or present buildings that can be utilised. Planning and design of economically viable animal housing and handling facilities for sheep, cattle, beef, dairy herds, chickens and pigs. Detailed costing of these facilities can be provided on request. The design of manure handling facilities, such as retention dams to prevent pollution of rivers and streams, are also catered for. We also do the design of affordable animal housing and handling facilities for small farmers.
The irrigation section provides advice and guidance to assist irrigators to use water more efficiently. These include the checking of irrigation system design and infield testing of irrigation systems to ascertain performance compliance. The running of programmes to promote the effective use of water is a main priority of this section. Evaluation of available water resources for small farmer schemes and the design of irrigation systems for these farmers are also undertaken. These include water infrastructure planning, design and construction supervision.
Through Fruitlook, satellite technology is used to analyse crop growth and water use. The technology has helped farmers to improve their production, reduce costs and has raised awareness around water use. FruitLook provides weekly updates on nine growth parameters such as actual evapotranspiration, biomass production and leaf nitrogen content which can help farmers understand the effects of farm management on their crop. On FruitLook, wine and fruit farmers can register (delineate) their irrigation blocks and analyse crop growth and water status over time and space during the growth season. FruitLook can help identify why yields in one field are higher than in the other and how irrigation scheduling effects crop growth. The dataset behind FruitLook presents huge opportunities for statistical analysis of wine and fruit cultivation in the Western Cape. This includes linking crop growth and water use to soil type, slope, aspect and weather conditions
Mechanisation planning services are provided to farmers to ensure the optimal use of agricultural implements. The promotion of Conservation Farming in the Western Cape (minimum tillage, management of crop residues to maintain soil moisture and the implementation of a crop rotation scheme) is the main priority of this section. We also provide advice and guidance on the conversion of existing implements to be used in conservation farming.
The focus of this section is value adding of agricultural products on the farm through processes like drying, cooling, canning and packaging to increase profitability and competitiveness.
The planning and design of advanced engineering structures, such as gabions, groynes, waterways and culverts, for soil conservation structures, including structures to prevent erosion of river banks.