A farmers’ day focusing on no-till and conservation farming will take place on 10 September on Hendrik Odendaal’s farm in the Standerton area. The technical presenters of this farmers’ day are from Argentina’s National Institute of Agricultural Technology (INTA).

Lees dit in Afrikaans.

“Hendrik has been practicing no-till for many years and uses Argentinian implements in his crop farming. It is therefore fitting to hold the farmers’ day on his farm,” says Hendrik Jordaan, an agribusiness consultant based in Argentina, who is involved with the arrangements for the farmers’ day.

“Production methods and conditions in Argentina and South Africa are very similar, but the scale of crop farming in Argentina is enormous. In addition, Argentina has been farming no-till for over 40 years, and they’ve gained a fair amount of experience they would like to share with others. The machinery they have designed for no-till practices also speaks of world-class quality without losing the hands-on philosophy. This is the reason why we’re having an Argentine farmers’ day on South African soil,” he explains.

Benefits of no-till planters

Hernán Ferrari is a mechanisation specialist involved with INTA. According to Hernán, the most important implements to be presented at the farmers’ day is the range of no-till planters.

Hernán Ferrari (middle) with fellow agricultural researcher Juan Pablo Vélez of INTA (left) and Hendrik Jordaan (right).

The primary feature of a no-till planter, he says, is that it is the only implement that penetrates the soil. “But this penetration is slight, as only a small furrow of 2 to 2,5cm wide is made.

“Another aspect that further distinguishes this implement, is that it cuts open the previous crop’s organic residue to reach the soil surface. A round coulter disc is mounted at the front of the planter. It cuts open a path for the planter, which follows directly behind the disc to place the seed.

“So, we are talking about micro-cultivation, which is done in such a way that allows for correct placement of the seed, and for easy and efficient rainwater penetration of the soil. The capillary effect between the soil moisture and the seed is not disrupted using this method.”

Depth control and row width

Depth control during the planting process is an essential aspect of no-till. For this, a depth wheel at the bottom and a set of shock absorbers on top of the planting train, are used. This gives the planter excellent stability, which means that every seed is placed at exactly the right depth, with the right spacing. The seed is covered in such a way that water penetration is optimised.

No-till planters taper the seed rows but increase the distance between individual seeds to fit as many seeds as possible into a square. This results in maize plants with better distribution and optimal use of air and nutrients by each individual maize plant, while reducing competition. The typical row width in Argentina is 52,5cm for maize, between 52,5cm and 35cm for soya beans and approximately 17cm for small grains.

No-till means that crop residues must be distributed across the area on which it has been harvested. This is of the utmost importance. To achieve this, the combine’s settings must be correct and the crop residues need to be distributed as wide as the combine header. The combine’s tyre pressure is just as important, because correct tyre pressure will keep soil compaction to a minimum. The main aim of a no-till system is to leave the soil structure undisturbed. This results in better moisture penetration, improved moisture retention (as much as 45%) and soil nutrients that are more readily available to the plants. As the cover on the soil improves, it increases the soil’s water holding capacity and reduces the risk of compaction due to traffic on the soil surface.

A no-till farmers’ day will be held on 10 September on Hendrik Odendaal’s farm, Holmdene, between Val and Villiers near Standerton, to introduce Argentina’s agricultural technology and machinery to South African farmers. Various implement and technology manufacturers will exhibit their products. Keep an eye on the press and social media for more information.

For more information, contact Hendrik Jordaan on +549 11 6274 5888 (WhatsApp or cell) or send an email to info@laurik.com.ar.