AllyCAD Showcase

Agricultural Planning to maximise yield

Agricultural Consulters International

As Agricultural Consultant with Agricultural Consulters International (ACI), Daan Brink conducts soil surveys on behalf of farmers looking to optimise their yields and return on investments. The scope of the work includes plant manipulation, irrigation control and advice on the best type of fruit to grow with clearly defined guidelines as to the best position for planting the trees.

Soil Analysis
"It is the varied nature of each investigation that makes the science of soil analysis such an interesting practice. When we get an enquiry from a farmer we start by visiting the farm for an examination of the soil's potential. We then advise the farmers what needs to be done in order to achieve a maximum yield," says Brink.

The starting point for each project begins with soil surveys wherein profile pits are dug at intervals of 50, 75 or 100 metres apart and then examined for textural differences and individual soil characteristics.

Profile pits are usually 1,5m deep and are coded according to the South African soil classification standards. These codes are then used on maps in order to indicate the different soil areas.

According to Brink, farmers are particularly interested in establishing the most suitable fruit for the soil type and ensuring that these will yield 100% in harvest.

Mapping with software
"Larger farms require a different kind of planning as there is usually more than one kind of fruit that needs to be indicated on the map. This is also where the climate and microclimate is taken into account in order to ensure that the right plant is planted on the best spot for a 100% yield."

Maps are used extensively for soil management. This is where AllyCAD and Civil Designer have helped automate the tedious process of producing accurate maps for farmers in record time. These maps are then amended and adjusted regularly until the finished product is produced.

  "About three years ago we did everything by hand and spent many hours manually shading the various soil types and roads onto the maps. With AllyCAD it's so easy to update a map with changes and the program has made our lives a lot simpler."

Many of ACI's clients reside in neighbouring areas like Ceres, Stellenbosch and Grabouw but the company also has clients in the Free State, Gauteng, Lesotho and even Chile.

Referring to the Lesotho vegetable project, Brink says: "This rewarding project was a black empowerment initiative that required soil identification, farm planning and advice on the best drainage system to use on the farm. The community project was funded by government and we are pleased that we could offer the local team with some direction."

Brink finds all aspects of his work rewarding and is most gratified when visiting a farm one year after his first consultation and then seeing an orchard performing at 100% capacity.

"This is what makes soil science so fantastic. When you see the results in practice year after year based on your scientific methods and calculations: there is no greater feeling in the entire world!"

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