About Us

Overview

The South African Sugarcane Research Institute (SASRI) is a world renowned agricultural research institute at the forefront of a thriving sugar industry. Research at SASRI is clustered within four multidisciplinary programmes, namely Variety Improvement, Crop Protection, Crop Performance & Management and Systems Design & Optimisation.

An Extension Service provides the essential link between researchers and sugarcane farmers. SASRI also offers a range of services including fertiliser advice, disease diagnoses and education courses.

Our Values

Customer focus:
We believe in excellent service delivery through a strategic and proactive approach.

Research culture:
We value a climate of creativity, innovation, and national and international cooperation.
We embrace a research ethos that includes honesty and integrity in all interactions.

People-centered:
We are committed to empowering people through participation.
We attach a great value to the diversity of background and thinking and are dedicated to the development of potential.

Our Purpose

Varieties

Develop and deliver new sugarcane varieties providing increased economic returns.

Research

Conduct research to advance sugarcane nutritional, agronomic and engineering technology.

Services

Provide services to support sugarcane farming best management practices.

Product Development

Transform research outputs into practical knowledge and technology products.

Technology Adoption

Facilitate the adoption of technology and best management practices that encourage responsible, sustainable and profitable land use.

Innovation

Generate new ideas to enlarge the scope of sugarcane agriculture and sustain the industry into the future.

Our History

In 1925, leaders of the SA sugar industry were prompted to established their own Experiment Station. The main reason for doing so was the need to introduce and select more productive and disease resistant varieties for the industry. At the time, the sugarcane disease, mosaic, posed a serious threat to the industry, as many promising varieties under test proved to be susceptible to the disease.

Dr WE Cross, Director of the Tucuman Research Station in Argentina, advised the SA industry not to rely on the inadequate number of government employed agricultural scientists working on several different crops, but to employ its own scientists in different disciplines to concentrate exclusively on sugarcane.

Management Team

Dr Terry Stanger

Director

Details

Director

Tel: 031 508 7400 (Switchboard)
Tel: 031 508 7404 (Direct)
Email: terry.stanger@sugar.org.za

Role & Overall Purpose
  • To provide leadership towards the realisation of the strategic vision of the institute, that assures SASRI’s position as a global leader in sugarcane research.
  • To facilitate the recognition for, and development of, exceptional research and appropriate services that addresses the productivity and sustainability imperatives of all sugarcane growers.
  • To enable the transformation of knowledge into technology products for delivery of rigorous specialist and advisory services that meet the needs of the South African industry and other sugarcane industries in Africa.
  • To sustain an environment that is conducive to the generation of innovation and responsiveness to the sustainability, productivity and profitability needs of our stakeholders.
Expertise
  • Plant breeding and quantitative genetics background, with application in the development of domesticated populations of tree species to provide base populations for tree breeding.
  • Development of improved seed of selected tree species, hybridization to combine complementary traits and the selection of clonal varieties for operational deployment.
  • Management of a diverse organisation and biological value chain to deliver a rateable and sustainable supply of raw material to the end user.
  • Extensive leadership, agricultural research experience and in-depth commercial knowledge.
Specific Interests

Enhancing SASRI’s standing as an influential and respected research institute, that delivers value to its stakeholders. Implementation and application of 4IR technology to optimise productivity.

Qualifications

BSc Agric, MSc Agric (University of Natal)
PhD Forestry, North Carolina State University, U.S.A.

Dr Derek Watt

Research Manager

Details

Research Manager

Tel: 031 508 7400 (Switchboard)
Tel: 031 508 7461 (Direct)
Email: derek.watt@sugar.org.za

Role
  • As part of the SASA leadership collective, to contribute to the fulfilment of the organisation’s mission and strategic objectives.
  • In conjunction with the SASRI Director and leadership team, to ensure that the management of the institute is aligned with stakeholder-ratified strategic objectives and good governance principles.
  • To determine the strategic direction of the SASRI research programme through internal and external consultation to promote the long-term sustainability of the sugar industry.
  • To provide pro-active leadership and effective management and administration of the SASRI research programme to ensure provision of relevant, practical and high quality agricultural solutions to stakeholders.
  • In conjunction with the research management team, to develop a programme of research and technology development that is precisely aligned with those of the SASRI operations, knowledge management and extension environments and which results in the development of cost-effective solutions that are seamlessly transferred and readily adopted by stakeholders.
  • To co-ordinate, guide and inspire the rigour and relevance of research activities and performance of SASRI Research Staff.
  • To develop and participate in initiatives that promote the well-being and professional development of SASRI Research Staff.
Expertise
  • Molecular plant physiology.
  • Research management.
Specific Interests

Regulation of sucrose accumulation, particularly the role played by sugar sensing and signalling mechanisms in mediating the relationship between source and sink activities.

Key Outcomes
  • In conjunction with research collaborators and post-graduate students:
    Demonstrated that the sink strength (stalk sucrose content) is an important determinant of source activity (leaf photosynthesis), a relationship that may underpin certain agronomic phenomena (e.g. reduced spring growth).
  • Identified commonalities in the signalling and transduction pathways for aluminium-induced and oxidative stress in sugarcane roots.
  • Through gene expression profiling, found evidence that hypoxia may play a role in the regulation of stalk carbohydrate metabolism.
  • NRF-rating.
Key Production

Van Heerden PDR, Donaldson R, Watt DA & A Singels (2010). Biomass accumulation in sugarcane – unraveling the factors underpinning reduced growth phenomena. Journal of Experimental Botany 61: 2877-2887.

McCormick AJ, Watt DA & MD Cramer (2009). Supply and demand: sink regulation of sugar accumulation in sugarcane. Journal of Experimental Botany 60: 357-364.

McCormick AJ, Cramer MD & DA Watt (2008). Culm sucrose accumulation promotes physiological decline of mature leaves in ripening sugarcane. Field Crops Research 108: 250-258.

McCormick AJ, Cramer MD & DA Watt (2008). Differential expression of genes in the leaves of sugarcane in response to sugar accumulation. Tropical Plant Biology 1: 142-148.

McCormick AJ, Cramer MD & DA Watt (2008). Regulation of photosynthesis by sugars in sugarcane leaves. Journal of Plant Physiology 165: 1817-1829.

McCormick AJ, Cramer MD & DA Watt (2008). Changes in photosynthetic rates and gene expression of leaves during a source-sink perturbation in sugarcane. Annals of Botany 101: 89-102.

Qualifications
  • Honorary Senior Lecturer (University of KwaZulu-Natal, Howard College).
  • MSc (Witwatersrand), HDipEd (PG) PhD (Natal).

(vacant)

Finance & Admin Manager

Details

Finance & Admin Manager

Tel: 031 508 7400 (Switchboard)
Tel: 031 508 7471 (Direct)
Email:

Role
  • To manage a comprehensive financial and administration service to SASRI.
  • To ensure continuous assessment of business risk and good corporate governance practices in accordance with SASA policies and procedures and legislation.
Expertise
  • Finance
  • Budgeting
  • Contracts
  • Administration

(vacant)

Operations Manager

Vacant

Operations Manager

Tel: 031 508 7400 (Switchboard)
Tel:
Email:

Role
Leading and managing the co-ordination of internal resources and resource structures to optimise delivery to research and technical services, and facilitate a strategic relationship amongst the resource and research environments.

Facilitating and supporting the delivery of cost-effective specialist and advisory services to the industry. Identifying, initiating and maintaining relationships with third parties to enhance delivery on industry needs.

Expertise
Good practical understanding of the sugarcane crop and general farm practices.
Specific Interests
The intricacies of the business environment in an innovative research organisation positioned within the broader context of the SA sugar industry.
Qualifications

Catherine Botes

Human Resources Manager

Details

Human Resources Manager

Tel: 031 508 7400 (Switchboard)
Tel: 031 508 7505 (Direct)
Email: catherine.botes@sugar.org.za

Role & Overall Purpose

Manages the HR Department at SASRI which facilitates functions related to the attraction, selection and retention of high calibre employees.

Responsible for creating an environment that fosters development and growth thereby allowing for individuals to make their optimal contribution to the institute. This is achieved through work in the following areas:

  • Recruitment and Selection
  • Training and Development
  • Performance Management
  • Industrial Relations
  • Employee Wellness
  • Policy, Benefits and Administrative Management and Systems

Ensures that all these functions take place within the legislative framework governing the workplace in South Africa.

Rowan Stranack

Extension & Biosecurity Manager

Details

Extension & Biosecurity Manager

Tel: 031 508 7400 (Switchboard)
Tel: 031 508 7459 (Direct)
Email: rowan.stranack@sugar.org.za

Role
  • To provide overall strategic management of the risks associated with biosecurity and biosafety in the SA sugar industry.
  • To facilitate, co-ordinate and assist in activities of Local Pest, Disease and Variety Control Committees in their efforts to provide effective bio-security to the industry.
Expertise

Agricultural extension, pest, disease and variety control, environmental management, training and education, soils and soil conservation and sugarcane agronomy.

Specific Interests
  • Establishment of a formal and uniform biosecurity system in the SA sugar industry, led by Local Pest, Disease and Variety Control Committees in conjunction with SASA and SASRI.
  • To facilitate and provide and effective support service to LPD & VCC’s.
  • Development of effective and practical incursion plans to counter the threats to biosecurity.
  • To provide leadership and guidance in the area of stewardship of all resources used by the industry, including natural resources, manufactured inputs as well as the technology produced by SASRI.
Qualifications

B Ag Mgt (Hons) – Natal, Pietermaritzburg.

Michelle Binedell

Knowledge Manager

Details

Knowledge Manager

Tel: 031 508 7400 (Switchboard)
Tel: 031 508 7567 (Direct)
Email: michelle.binedell@sugar.org.za

Role & Overall Purpose

As Knowledge Manager, Michelle is responsible for managing the KM Unit which provides services and resources for enhancing research, technology development and knowledge transfer. Expertise in the unit includes the provision of a library service, a publications portfolio, multi-media services, information systems, education courses and agricultural and scientific liaison.

Expertise
  • Knowledge Management
  • Environmental Assessment and Management Environmental Reporting and Environmental Health Research
Specific Interests
  • Application of applied research in a practical manner to ensure impact
  • Sustainable sugarcane farming
Qualifications

Master of Environmental Management (University of Natal)

Dr Riekert van Heerden

Programme Manager: Crop Performance & Management

Details

Programme Manager: Crop Performance & Management

Tel: 031 508 7400 (Switchboard)
Tel: 031 508 7439 (Direct)
Email: riekert.vanheerden@sugar.org.za

Role & Overall Purpose

As programme manager, I am responsible for the coordination and management of research within the Crop Performance and Management Research Programme at SASRI. This role involves development of the annual programme of work through encouraging focus, innovation and collaboration in research. As senior scientist, my role is to initiate and conduct research leading to best management practices for sugarcane cultivation in South Africa.

A key outcome of my research is to promote the responsible use of chemical ripeners in the sugar industry. Chemical ripeners enhance the sucrose content of sugarcane during certain parts of the milling season. My research conducted under statistically-designed experimental conditions, and on a much larger commercial scale in participation with sugarcane farmers, has shown that increases in sucrose yields up to 3 tons per hectare can be achieved with chemical ripeners. Success stories, and advice on the use of ripeners, are often shared with farmers at knowledge exchange events and in the form of popular articles, which drives the ongoing adoption of this important crop management practice.

My contribution to farmer sustainability in the South African sugarcane industry was acknowledged when I received the Agriculturist of the Year (KwaZulu-Natal) Award from Agricultural Writers SA in 2011. I am currently also a National Research Foundation (NRF)-rated scientist.

Expertise
  • Physiological and biochemical basis of stress tolerance in plants.
  • Sugarcane quality management, with emphasis on the responsible use of chemical ripeners.
  • Participatory on-farm research and knowledge exchange to promote adoption of best management practices by sugarcane farmers.
Research Interests
  • The use of chemical ripeners for sugarcane quality management focusing on cultivar responses and climatic influences on chemical efficacy.
  • Innovations facilitating on-farm sugarcane quality management decisions to enable the responsible and informed use of chemical ripeners.
  • Participatory on-farm research and knowledge exchange with sugarcane farmers.
Key Outcomes
  • Ensuring the responsible use of chemical ripeners in the South African sugar industry.
  • Conversion of peer-reviewed research findings to best management practices for profitable and sustainable sugarcane production in South Africa.
  •  
Key Publications

van Heerden PDR (2019). Response of selected South African coastal sugarcane varieties to chemical ripeners: Active ingredient effectiveness and associated impacts on grower and miller sustainability. International Sugar Journal 121: 902 – 904.

Van Antwerpen R, van Heerden PDR, Tweddle P, Cheong RN & Riviere V (2018). Advances in harvesting and transport of sugarcane. In: Achieving sustainable cultivation of sugarcane Volume 1: Cultivation techniques, quality and sustainability, Rott P (Ed.), pp. 203 – 234, Burleigh Dodds Science Publishing Limited, Cambridge, UK, ISBN: 978-1-78676-144-6.

van Heerden PDR, Adendorff MW, Lagerwall G, Botha P, Cronjé CPR, van der Merwe J, Nel N, Smith P, Höll E, Hyslop G, Smith V, Harris A., Harris W, Mhlongo JB, Harris DM & Dheopursad J (2015). Grower – Extensionist – Researcher partnerships: On-farm demonstration trials to facilitate adoption of chemical ripening. International Sugar Journal 117: 500-506.

van Heerden PDR, Mbatha TP & Ngxaliwe S (2015). Chemical ripening of sugarcane with trinexapac-ethyl (Moddus®) – Mode of action and comparative efficacy. Field Crops Research 181: 69-75.

van Heerden PDR, Singels A, Paraskevopoulos A & Rossler R (2015). Negative effects of lodging on irrigated sugarcane productivity – an experimental and crop modelling assessment. Field Crops Research 180: 135-142.

van Heerden PDR (2014). Differential acclimation capacity to frost in sugarcane varieties grown under field conditions. Plant Growth Regulation 72: 181 – 187.

van Heerden PDR (2014). Evaluation of Trinexapac-ethyl (Moddus®) as a new chemical ripener for the South African sugarcane industry. Sugar Tech 16(3): 295-299.

van Heerden PDR, Eggleston G & Donaldson RA (2014). Ripening and Post-harvest deterioration. In: Sugarcane Physiology, Biochemistry, and Functional Biology, Botha FC and Moore PH (Eds.), pp. 55 – 84, Wiley-Blackwell, USA, ISBN: 978-0-8138-2121-4.

Lopes MS, Araus JL, van Heerden PDR & Foyer CH (2011). Enhancing drought tolerance in C4 crops. Journal of Experimental Botany 62: 3135-3153.

van Heerden PDR, Donaldson RA, Watt DA & Singels A (2010). Biomass accumulation in sugarcane – unravelling the factors underpinning reduced growth phenomena. Journal of Experimental Botany 61, 2877-2887.

International Consultancy & Training

Over seven years of international consultancy work and training (related to sugarcane quality management) for sugar industries in Chad, Cameroon, Congo, Côte d’Ivoire, Gabon, Central African Republic, Zimbabwe, Eswatini and Guatemala.

Qualifications
  • M.Sc. – Plant Physiology (Stellenbosch University).
  • Ph.D. – Plant Physiology (North-West University – Potchefstroom campus).

Dr Stuart Rutherford

Programme Manager: Crop Protection

Details

Programme Manager: Crop Protection

Tel: 031 508 7400 (Switchboard)
Tel: 031 508 7529 (Direct)
Email: stuart.rutherford@sugar.org.za

Role & Overall Purpose

As a programme leader, I am responsible for coordinating and managing research within the Crop Protection Research Programme at SASRI. In this role I am involved in the development of the annual programme of work through encouraging focus, innovation and collaboration in research. As a scientist, my role is to initiate, conduct and supervise research leading to best management practices for sugarcane crop protection in South Africa. I am also currently a National Research Foundation (NRF)-rated scientist.

Expertise

Plant Pathology, Entomology, Integrated Pest Management, Soil Science, Physiology & Biochemistry, Molecular Biology.

Research Interests
  • Genomics of pest and disease resistance.
  • Mechanisms of resistance to biotic and abiotic stress.
  • Rapid prediction of pest and disease resistance ratings in sugarcane e.g. using Near Infrared.
  • Primed epigenetic in-vitro mutation breeding for resistance to biotic and abiotic stressors.
  • Plant physiological and priming effects of modern crop protection chemistries.
  • Insect pest, host-plant and microbial interactions. Endophytic Beauveria  and Bacillus for pest control.
  • Application of Chemical Ecology in Integrated Pest Management Systems.
Key Outcomes
  • The development of NIR as a means of phenotyping pest and disease resistance in sugarcane.
  • Herbicide tolerant sugarcane produced by mutagenesis.
  • Fusarium resistant sugarcane produced by mutagenesis having improved resistance to Eldana saccharina.
  • The production of an IPM book on eldana control.
Key Publications

Rutherford, R.S., Smith, G.S. and van Staden, J. (1994) Development of a meridic diet for the sugarcane borer, Eldana saccharinaWalker (Lepidoptera: Pyralidae). Principles, problems and possible in vivo plant resistance mechanisms. Afr. Entomol. 2: 163-174.

Rutherford, R.S. and van Staden J. (1996) Towards a rapid near infra-red technique for the prediction of resistance to the sugarcane borer Eldana saccharina Walker (Lepidoptera: Pyralidae) using stalk surface wax. J. Chem. Ecol. 22: 681-693.

Rutherford, R.S. (1998) Prediction of resistance in sugarcane to the stalk borer Eldana saccharina Walker by near infrared spectroscopy on crude bud scale extracts. The involvement of chlorogenates and flavonoids. J. Chem. Ecol. 24: 1447-1463

Thokoane, L.N. and Rutherford, R.S. (2001) cDNA-AFLP differential display of sugarcane (Saccharum spp, hybrids) genes induced by challenge with the fungal pathogen Ustilago scitaminea (sugarcane smut). Proc S Afr Sug Technol Ass 75: 104-107.

Heinze, B.S., Thokoane, L.N., Williams, N.J., Barnes, J.M. and Rutherford, R.S. (2001) The smut-sugarcane interaction as a model system for the integration of marker discovery and gene isolation. Proc. S. Afr. Sug. Technol. Ass 75: 88-93.

Butterfield, M., Rutherford, R., Carson, D. and Huckett, B. (2004) Application of gene discovery to varietal improvement in sugarcane. SA J. Bot. 70: 167-172.

Rutherford R.S. (2007) Sugarcane Diseases, ecology, and control. In D. Pimentel (Ed.), Encyclopaedia of Pest Management Vol 2.pp 643-646. CRC Press, Taylor & Francis. ISBN 13: 978-1-4200-5361-6

Keeping, M.G., Rutherford, R.S. and Conlong, D.E. (2007) Bt maize as a potential trap crop for management of Eldana saccharina Walker (Lep., Pyralidae) in sugarcane. J. Appl. Entomol. 131: 241-250.

Conlong, D.E. and Rutherford, R.S. (2009) Conventional and New Biological and Habitat Interventions for Integrated Pest Management Systems: Review and Case Studies using Eldana saccharina Walker (Lepidoptera: Pyralidae). In R. Peshin & A.K. Dhawan (Eds.), Integrated Pest Management Vol. 1: Innovation-Development Process, Springer, ISBN 978-1-4020-8991-6.

McFarlane, S.A., Govender, P. and Rutherford, R.S. (2009) Interactions between Fusarium species from sugarcane and the stalk borer Eldana saccharina Walker (Lepidoptera: Pyralidae). Ann. Appl. Biol. 155: 349-359

Ramgareeb , S., Snyman, S.J., van Antwerpen, T. and Rutherford, R.S. (2010) Elimination of virus and rapid propagation of disease-free sugarcane (Saccharum spp. cultivar NCo376) using apical meristem culture. Plant Cell, Tissue Organ Cult. 100: 175-181.

Way, M.J., Conlong, D.E. and Rutherford, R.S. (2012) Biosecurity against invasive alien insect pests: A case study of Chilo sacchariphagus (Lepidoptera: Crambidae) in the southern African region. Int. Sugar J. 114: 359-363.

Koch, A.C., Ramgareeb, S., Rutherford, R.S., Snyman, S.J. & Watt, M.P. (2012) An in vitro mutagenesis protocol for the production of sugarcane tolerant to the herbicide imazapyr. In Vitro Cellular Devel.Biol. – Plant 48: 417-427.

Goble, T.A., Costet, L., Robene, I., Nibouche, S., Rutherford, R.S., Conlong, D. and Hill, M. (2012) Beauveria brongniartii epizootics on white grubs attacking sugarcane in South Africa. J. Invert. Pathol. 111: 225-236.

Mahlanza, T., Rutherford, R.S., Snyman, S.J. and Watt, M.P. (2013) In vitro generation of somaclonal variant plants of sugarcane for tolerance to Fusarium sacchari. Plant Cell Rep. 32: 249-262.

Munsamy, A., Rutherford, R.S., Snyman, S.J. and Watt, M.P. (2013). 5-Azacytidine as a tool to induce somaclonal variants with useful traits in sugarcane (Saccharum spp.). Plant Biotech. Rep. 7: 489-502.

Rutherford, R.S. (2014) Mechanisms of Resistance to Pests and Pathogens in Sugarcane and Related Species. In F.C. Botha & P.H. Moore (Eds.), Sugarcane Physiology, Biochemistry, and Functional Biology. Wiley-Blackwell. ISBN: 978-0-8138-2121-4.

Rutherford, R.S., Snyman, S.J. and Watt, M.P. (2014) In vitro studies on somaclonal variation and induced mutagenesis: Progress and prospects in sugarcane (Saccharum spp.) – a review. J.Hort. Sci. & Biotech. 89: 1-16.

Rhodes, R., Berry, S.D., Ramouthar, P.V. and Rutherford, R.S. (2014) Evaluation of Desmodium uncinatum, Fagopyrum esculentumand Brachiaria humidicola as potential green manure crops for nematode management in sugarcane. S Afr. J. Plant Soil. 31: 25–33.

Sabatier, D.R., Moon, C.M., Mhora, T.T., Rutherford, R.S. and Laing, M.D. (2014) Near-infrared reflectance (NIR) spectroscopy as a high-throughput screening tool for pest and disease resistance in a sugarcane breeding programme. Int. Sugar J. 116: 580-583.

Ghai, M., Singh, V., Martin, L.A., McFarlane, S.A., van Antwerpen, T. and Rutherford, R.S. (2014) A rapid and visual loop-mediated isothermal amplification assay to detect Leifsonia xyli subsp. xyli targeting a transposase gene. Lett. Appl. Microbiol. 59: 648-657.

Mahlanza, T., Rutherford, R.S., Snyman, S.J. and Watt, M.P. (2014) Eldana saccharina (Lepidoptera: Pyralidae) resistance in sugarcane (Saccharum sp.): Effects of Fusarium spp., stalk rind, fibre and nitrogen content. Afr. Entomol. 22: 810-822.

Keeping, M.G., Rutherford, R.S., Sewpersad, C. and Miles, N. (2015) Provision of nitrogen as ammonium rather than nitrate increases silicon uptake in sugarcane. AoB PLANTS 7: plu080; doi:10.1093/aobpla/plu080

Way, M.J., Conlong, D.E., Martin, L.A., McFarlane, S.A., Stranack, R., Keeping, M.G. and Rutherford, R.S. (2015). First record of yellow sugarcane aphid, Sipha flava (Homoptera: Aphididae), in the South African sugarcane industry. International Sugar Journal, 117: 654-656.

Mahlanza, T., Rutherford, R.S., Snyman, S.J. and Watt, M.P. (2015) Potential of Fusarium sacchari-tolerant mutants in controlling Eldana saccharina and borer-associated Fusarium stem rot in sugarcane. European Journal of Plant Pathology 141: online.

Keeping, M.G., Miles, N. and Rutherford, R.S. (2017). Liming an acid soil treated with diverse silicon sources: effects on silicon uptake by sugarcane (Saccharum spp. hybrids). Journal of Plant Nutrition. 40: 1417-1436.

Martin, L.A., Evans, D.L., Castlebury, L.A., Sifundza, J.T., Comstock, J.C., Rutherford, R.S. and McFarlane, S.A. (2017). Macruropyxis fulva sp. nov., an undescribed rust (Pucciniales) infecting sugarcane in southern Africa. Australasian Plant Pathology 46: 63-74 DOI 10.1007/s13313-016-0460-1

Martin, L.A., Rutherford, R.S. and McFarlane, S.A. (2017). Touchdown PCR assay for the rapid diagnosis of tawny rust caused by Macruropyxis fulva on sugarcane. Australasian Plant Pathology 46: 103-105 DOI 10.1007/s13313-016-0464-x

Rutherford, R.S., Maphalala, K.Z., Koch, A.C., Snyman, S.J. and Watt, M.P. (2017). Field and laboratory assessments of sugarcane mutants selected in vitro for resistance to the imidazolinone herbicide imazapyr. Crop Breeding and Applied Biotechnology, 17: 107-114.

Qualifications
  • Honorary Lecturer – University of KwaZulu-Natal (2012 – Present).
  • BSc Hons (Reading), MBA (Cardiff) PhD (Natal).

Dr Rianto van Antwerpen

Programme Manager: Systems Design & Optimisation

Details

Programme Manager: Systems Design & Optimisation

Tel: 031 508 7400 (Switchboard)
Tel: 031 508 7400 (Direct)
Email: rianto.vanantwerpen@sugar.org.za

Role & Overall Purpose
  • To conduct research into soil physical aspects restricting sugarcane yields.
  • To develop procedures and guidelines to improve the soil environment for sustained sugarcane production.
  • To transfer technology to extension officers, growers and other role-players in the SA sugar industry.
  • To manage a portfolio of research projects within the SDO programme.
Expertise
  • Water storage capacity of soils, soil salinity/ sodicity, soil compaction, tillage practices, root distribution, sugarcane residue management, organic ameliorants, soil health.
Research Interests
  • Impact of clay type and quantity and organic matter on soil water relationships, root distribution, buffer capacity of the soil against degradation and soil health indicators.
  • Modelling root growth and distribution and crop water use.
  • The purpose and outcomes of long-term trials.
  • Measurements to quantify the condition of soils.
  • Promoting crop rotation, organic matter use and by-product re-cycling within the sugar industry.
Key Outcomes
  • Carbon distribution between shoots and roots.
  • Water balance model for stressed sugarcane.
  • Tillage techniques to improve yields on marginal soils.
  • Nutritional and yield benefits of sugarcane residue and other organic products.
  • Soil health indicators for the SA sugar industry.
Key Publications

Dominy, CS, Haynes, RJ and Van Antwerpen, R (2002). Loss of soil organic matter and related soil properties under long-term sugarcane production on two contrasting soils. Biol Fertil Soils 36: 350-356.

Donaldson, RA, Redshaw, KA, Rhodes, R and van Antwerpen, R (2008). Season effects on productivity of some commercial South African sugarcane cultivars: II. Trash production. Proc S Afr Sug Technol Ass 81: 528-538.

Galdos MV, Cerri CC, Cerri CEP, Paustian K & Van Antwerpen R (2009). Simulation of Soil Carbon Dynamics under Sugarcane with the CENTURY Model. Soil Sci. Soc. Am. J. 73: 802-811.

Galdos MV, Cerri CC, Cerri CEP, Paustian K & Van Antwerpen R (2010). Simulation of sugarcane residue decomposition and aboveground growth. Plant and Soil 326 (1): 243-259 (DOI 10.1007/s11104-009-0004-3).

Graham, MH, Haynes, RJ and Van Antwerpen, R (2002). Size and activity of the soil microbial biomass in the row and inter-row of a sugarcane field under burning and green cane harvesting. Proc S Afr Sug Technol Ass 76: 186-195.

Kingston, G, Donzelli, J.L., Meyer, J.H., Richard, E.P, Seeruttun, S., Torres J., and Van Antwerpen, R. (2005). Impact of the green cane harvest and production system on the agronomy of sugarcane. Proc Int Soc Sugar Cane Technol 25:521-531.

Marx, BJ, Bezuidenhout, CN, Lyne, PWL, Van Antwerpen, R (2006). Soil compaction decision support. Proc S Afr Sug Technol Ass 80: 140-107.

Meyer, JH and Van Antwerpen, R (2010). Advances in sugarcane soil fertility research in South Africa. SA J Plant Soil 27(1): 19-31.

Meyer, JH, Van Vuuren JA and Van Antwerpen, R (2005). The potential role of near infra red reflectance (NIR) monitoring in precision agriculture (PAG). Proc S Afr Sug Technol Ass 79: 202-309.

Miles, N, Meyer, JH and Van Antwerpen, R (2008). Soil organic matter data: What do they mean? Proc S Afr Sug Technol Ass 81: 324-332.

Purchase BS, Wynne AT, Meyer E and Van Antwerpen R (2008). Is there profit in cane trash ? – Another dimension to the assessment of trashing versus burning. Proc S Afr Sug Technol Ass 81: 86-99.

Singels, A, Van den Berg, M and Van Antwerpen, R (2005). Climate change and yield decline: An analysis of actual and simulated yield data from the BT1 field experiment. Proc S Afr Sug Technol Ass 79: 491-494.

Singels A, van den Berg M, Smit MA, Jones MR, van Antwerpen R (2010). Modelling water uptake, growth and sucrose accumulation of sugarcane subjected to water stress. Field Crops Research 117: 59–69.

Van Antwerpen, R (2005). Indicators of soil health and their importance – a review. Proc S Afr Sug Technol Ass 79: 179-191.

Van Antwerpen, R, Berry, SD, Van Antwerpen, T, Sewpersad, C and Cadet, P (2009). Indicators of soil health for use in the South African sugar industry: A work in progress. Proc S Afr Sug Technol Ass 82: 551-563.

Van Antwerpen, R, Conlong, D and Miles, N (2011). Nutrient management options for reducing Eldana Saccharina (lepidoptera: pyralidae) infestation of trashed sugarcane fields: Results from a preliminary study. Proc S Afr Sug Technol Ass 84: 298 – 300. (Short Comm)

Van Antwerpen, R, Haynes, RJ, Meyer, JH, and Hlanze, D (2003). Assessing organic amendments used by sugarcane growers for improving soil chemical and biological properties. Proc S Afr Sug Technol Ass 77: 293-304.

Van Antwerpen, R, Lyne, PWL, Meyer, E and Brouwers, M (2007). Changes in bulk density of a virgin soil due to compaction by commercial haulage vehicles. Proc Int Soc Sug Cane Technol 26: 470-475.

Van Antwerpen, R, Lyne, PWL, Meyer, E and Brouwers, M (2008). Effect of surface applied pressure by vehicles fitted with pneumatic tyres on properties of a virgin soil. Proc S Afr Sug Technol Ass 81: 408-417.

Van Antwerpen, R, Meyer, JH and Thompson, GD (2006). The impact of trashing on yield response in the South African sugar industry: A summary of results from several BT trials. Proc S Afr Sug Technol Ass 80: 130-133.

Van Antwerpen, R, Rhodes, R and Wynne, A (2008). Economics of trashing: Improvement and sensitivity analysis of this decision support program. Proc S Afr Sug Technol Ass 81: 486-488.

Van Antwerpen, T, Van Antwerpen, R, Meyer, JH, Naidoo, P, Berry, S, Spaull, V, Govender, K, Cadet, P, Rutherford, S and Laing, M (2007). Biotic and abiotic factors associated with a healthy soil in sugarcane production in KwaZulu-Natal. Proc Int Soc Sug Cane Technol 26: 273-281.

Qualifications

BSc Agric; MSc Agric; PhD (Free State).

Dr Sandy Snyman

Programme Manager: Variety Improvement Principal Scientist: Biotechnology

Details

Programme Manager: Variety Improvement
Principal Scientist: Biotechnology

Tel: 031 508 7400 (Switchboard)
Tel: 031 508 7460 (Direct)
Email: sandy.snyman@sugar.org.za

Role & Overall Purpose
  • As Variety Improvement Programme Manager, I co-ordinate and facilitate research to attain established strategic objectives.
  • As Principal Scientist: Biotechnology, I initiate, manage and drive tissue culture, micropropagation and genetic transformation research projects that will contribute to improved sugarcane varieties.
  • As an Honorary Senior Lecturer at UKZN, I collaborate with academic staff and supervise post-graduate students.
  • I am also an NRF-rated scientist and recipient of research funding from TIA-Biosafety SA, the latter enabling collaborative research with specialists at other SA Universities.
  • I liaise with Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development, Directorate: Plant Genetic Resources on GM related issues.
Expertise
  • In vitro tissue culture of sugarcane for the purposes of micropropagation, transgenesis, virus elimination, mutagenic breeding and germplasm conservation.
  • Molecular characterisation of transgenic plants and agronomic assessment of transgenic sugarcane in the field.
  • Regulatory framework for GM crops within SA.
  • Conducting risk assessments of GM crops for field release.
Research Interests
  • Deployment of NovaCane® and N12 Zapyr plants to the South African sugarcane industry.
  • Progressing commercial release of eldana resistant Bt GM sugarcane that is also herbicide tolerant.
  • Conducting biosafety research for regulatory approval of GM sugarcane.
  • Germplasm conservation via slow growth and cryopreservation.
  • Virus elimination via osmo- and cryo-therapy.
  • The use of chemical mutagenesis to improve selected characteristics of South African sugarcane germplasm.
Key Outcomes
  • Production of transgenic sugarcane that is eldana resistant and herbicide tolerant.
  • Applied use of tissue culture for rapid bulking of sugarcane cultivars. The process has been registered as a trademark, NovaCane®.
  • Deployment of N12 Zapyr, produced by mutagenic breeding, that is tolerant to imazapyr herbicide.
  • Osmo- and cryo-therapy of shoot tips for virus elimination.
Key Publications

Gonzales-Arnao MT, Banasiak M, Snyman SJ, Sershen (2020). The potential of cryotherapy to remove Sugarcane Mosaic Virus from sugarcane (Saccharum spp. hybrids) shoot tips. CryoLetters 41(5):267-271.

Snyman SJ, Naidoo M, MP Watt and Rutherford RS (2019). An in vitro screening system to assess aluminium toxicity in sugarcane (Saccharum spp.) In Vitro Cellular and Developmental Biology – Plant 55:403-408. DOI: 10.1007/s11627-019-09994-2

Mahlanza T, Rutherford RS, Snyman SJ and Watt MP (2019). Methylglyoxal-induced enhancement of somatic embryogenesis and associated metabolic changes in sugarcane (Saccharum spp. hybrids). Plant Cell Tissue and Organ Culture 136(2):279-287. DOI 10.1007/s11240-018-1513-7

Snyman SJ, Komape DM, Khanyi H, van den Berg J, Cilliers D, Lloyd Evans D, Barnard S and Siebert SJ (2018). Assessing the likelihood of gene flow from sugarcane (Saccharum hybrids) to wild relatives in South Africa. Frontiers in Bioengineering and Biotechnology 6:72. DOI: 10.3389/fbioe.2018.00072

Koetle MJ, Lloyd Evans D, Singh V, Snyman SJ, Rutherford RS and Watt MP (2018). Agronomic evaluation and molecular characterisation of the acetolactate synthase gene in imazapyr tolerant sugarcane (Saccharum hybrid) genotypes. Plant Cell Reports 37(8):1201-1213. DOI: 10.1007/s00299-018-2306-5

Snyman SJ, Banasiak M, Mhlanga P, Mupanehari E and Watt MP (2018). Strategies for maintaining and increasing throughput of in vitro cultures of sugarcane. Acta Horticulturae 1205:763-768. DOI: 10.17660/ActaHortic.2018.1205.95

Snyman SJ, Shezi SN and Ramburan S (2018). Field assessment of in vitro micropropagated NovaCane® sugarcane (Saccharum species hybrids). Sugar Tech 20(5):609-612. DOI 10.1007/s12355-017-0574-y

Banasiak M and Snyman SJ (2017). Exploring in vitro germplasm conservation options for sugarcane in South Africa. In Vitro Cellular and Developmental Biology – Plant 53:402-409. DOI 10.1007/s11627-017-9853-2

Rutherford RS, Maphalala KZ, Koch AC, Snyman SJ and Watt MP (2017). Field and laboratory assessments of sugarcane mutants selected in vitro for resistance to imazapyr herbicide. Crop Breeding and Applied Biotechnology 17:107-114. DOI 10.1590/1984-70332017v17n2a17.

Hajari E, Snyman SJ and Watt MP (2017). The effect of form and level of inorganic N on nitrogen use efficiency of sugarcane grown in potsJ Plant Nutrition 40(2):248-257. DOI 10.1080/01904167.2016.1237648.

Snyman SJ, Mhlanga P and Watt MP (2016). Rapid screening of sugarcane plantlets for in vitro mannitol-induced stress. Sugar Tech 18:437-440. DOI 10.1007/s12355-015-0411-0.

Snyman SJ, Hajari E, Watt MP, Lu Y and Kridl JC (2015). Improved nitrogen use efficiency in transgenic sugarcane: phenotypic assessment in a pot trial under low nitrogen conditions. Plant Cell Reports 34:667-669. DOI 10.1007/s00299-015-1768-y.

Hajari E, Snyman SJ and Watt MP (2015). Nitrogen use efficiency of sugarcane (Saccharum spp.) varieties under in vitro conditions with varied N supply. Plant Cell Tissue and Organ Culture 122:21-29. DOI 10.1007/s11240-015-0746-y.

Mahlanza T, Rutherford RS, Snyman SJ and Watt MP (2015). Potential of Fusarium sacchari-tolerant mutants in controlling Eldana saccharina and borer-associated Fusarium stem rot in sugarcane. European Journal of Plant Pathology (accepted) DOI 10.1007/s10658-014-0582-7.

Mahlanza T, Rutherford RS, Snyman SJ and Watt MP (2014). Eldana saccharina (Lepidoptera: Pyralidae) resistance in sugarcane (Saccharum sp.): Effects of Fusarium spp., stalk rind, fibre and nitrogen content. African Entomology 22(3): 810-822.

Hajari E, Snyman SJ and Watt MP (2014). Inorganic nitrogen uptake kinetics of sugarcane (Saccharum spp.) varieties under in vitro conditions and with varying N supply. Plant Cell Tissue and Organ Culture: Journal of Plant Biotechnology 117:361-371..

Rutherford RS, Snyman SJ and Watt MP (2014). In vitro studies on somaclonal variation and induced mutagenesis: progress and prospects in sugarcane (Saccharum spp.) – a review. The Journal of Horticultural Science and Biotechnology 89:1-16.

Munsamy A, Rutherford RS, Snyman SJ and Watt MP (2013). 5-Azacydiine as a tool to induce somaclonal variants with useful traits in sugarcane (Saccharum spp.). Plant Biotechnology Reports 7:489-502.

Mahlanza T, Snyman SJ, Rutherford RS and Watt MP (2013). In vitro generation of somaclonal variant plants of sugarcane for tolerance to Fusarium sacchari. Plant Cell Reports 32:249-262.

Meyer GM and Snyman SJ (2013). Progress in research on genetically modified sugarcane in South Africa and associated regulatory requirements. Acta Horticulturae 974:43-50.

Snyman SJ, van Antwerpen, Ramgareeb S and McFarlane SA (2012). Sugarcane pathogens: detection and elimination through in vitro culture. Functional Plant Science and Biotechnology 6: 12-18.

Koch AC, Ramagreeb S, Rutherford RS, Snyman SJ and Watt MP (2012). An in vitro mutagenesis protocol for the production of sugarcane tolerant to the herbicide imazapyr. In Vitro Cellular and Developmental Biology-Plant 48:417-427.

Snyman SJ, Meyer GM, Koch AC, Banasiak M and Watt MP (2011) Applications of in vitro culture systems for commercial sugarcane production and improvement. In Vitro Cellular and Developmental Biology – Plant 47:234-249. DOI 10.1007/s11627-011-9354-7I.

Snyman SJ, Nkwanyana PD and Watt MP (2011) Alleviation of hyperhydricity of sugarcane plantlets produced in RITA vessels and genotype and phenotypic characterisation of acclimated plants. South African Journal of Botany 77:685-692.

Ramgareeb S, Snyman SJ, van Antwerpen T and Rutherford RS (2010) Elimination of virus and rapid propagation of disease-free sugarcane (Saccharum spp. cultivar NCo376) using apical meristem culture. Plant Cell Tissue and Organ Culture 96:263-271. DOI 10.1007/s11240-009-9634-7.

Watt MP, Banasiak M, Reddy D, Albertse E and Snyman SJ (2009) In vitro minimal growth storage of Saccharum spp. hybrid (genotype 88H0019) at two stage of direct somatic embryogenic regeneration. Plant Cell Tissue and Organ Culture 96:263-271. DOI 10.1007/s11240-008-9483-9.

Brumbley SM, Snyman SJ, Gnanasambandam A, Joyce P, Hermann SR, da Silva JAG, McQualter RB, Wang M-L, Egan B, Patterson AH, Albert HH and Moore PH (2008) Sugarcane. In: A Compendium of Transgenic Crop Plants. Volume 7: Sugar, Tuber and Fiber Crops. Eds: C Kole and TC Hall. Blackwell Publishing, Oxford, UK, pp 1-58. ISBN: 978-1-405-16710-9.

Snyman SJ, Meyer GM, Richards JM, Haricharan N, Ramgareeb S and Huckett BI (2006) Refining the application of direct embryogenesis in sugarcane: effect of the developmental phase of leaf disc explants and the timing of DNA transfer on transformation efficiency. Plant Cell Reports 25:1016-1023.

Snyman SJ (2004) Transformation of sugarcane. In: Transgenic Crops of the World – Essential protocols. Ed: IS Curtis. Kluwer Academic Publishers. pp 103-114.

Leibbrandt NB and Snyman SJ (2003) Stability of gene expression and agronomic performance of a transgenic herbicide-resistant sugarcane line in South Africa. Crop Science 43:671-677.

Qualifications

BSc Hons (Witwatersrand), MSc (Natal), PhD (Stellenbosch).

Dr Sumita Ramgareeb

Resource Manager: Breeding & Field Unit

Details

Resource Manager: Breeding & Field Unit

Tel: 031 508 7400 (Switchboard)
Tel: 031 508 7413 (Direct)
Email: sumita.ramgareeb@sugar.org.za

Role & Overall Purpose

Management and provision of resources, to facilitate the Plant Breeding Project and other field based research work carried out on SASRI’s research farms.
Provision of support to staff members within the Breeding and Field Resource Unit (BFRU), thereby ensuring an effective service delivery to SASRI researchers. The following resource groupings are housed within BFRU: Selection and Crossing, Field Services, Technical Team.

Dr Deborah Sweby

Resource Manager: Crop Biology Resource Centre

Details

Resource Manager: Crop Biology Resource Centre

Tel: 031 508 7400 (Switchboard)
Tel: 031 508 7548 (Direct)
Email: deborah.sweby@sugar.org.za

Role & Overall Purpose

The management and provision of resources and support to staff members in the Crop Biology Resource Centre (CBRC), thereby ensuring effective performance of the Resource Centre.
The following disciplines are housed in CBRC: Biotechnology, Pathology, Quarantine, Entomology, Insect Rearing Unit, Novacane® Facility and the Weed Biocontrol programme (funded by the DEA).

Expertise

Working knowledge and understanding of the research environment; Project Management.

Qualifications
  • MSc (Plant Cell Biology): University of Natal
  • PhD (Plant Molecular Biology): University of Stellenbosch

Keith Collings

Resource Manager: Diagnostic & Analytical Resource Unit

Details

Resource Manager: Diagnostic & Analytical Resource Unit

Tel: 031 508 7400 (Switchboard)
Tel: 031 508 7436 (Direct)
Email: keith.collings@sugar.org.za

Role & Overall Purpose

The management and provision of resources and support to staff members in the Diagnostic and Analytical Resource Unit (DARU), thereby ensuring effective service delivery to both internal and external customers.

The following resource groupings are housed within DARU: Fertiliser Advisory Service (FAS), Biometry, Data Processing Services, Weather Services, Millroom and Geographical Information Systems (GIS).

Expertise

Specific Interests

Qualifications

Expertise

Management of Analytical laboratories with expertise in development of methods and quality control systems as well as background in Safety, Health and Environmental legislation and procedures.

Specific Interests

Development of Quality Management Systems to ensure efficient service that is focused on meeting customer needs. Continuous improvement in areas of Safety, Health and Environment system thereby ensuring a safe and healthy work environment.

Qualifications
  • B.Com (Hons): Business Management (Unisa).
  • National Higher Diploma in Analytical Chemistry.

Belinda Naidoo

Resource Manager: Plant & Environment Resource Centre

Details

Resource Manager: Plant & Environment Resource Centre

Tel: 031 508 7400 (Switchboard)
Tel: 031 508 7457 (Direct)
Email: belinda.naidoo@sugar.org.za

Role & Overall Purpose

Manage the Plant and Environment Resource Centre (PERC) by providing support and services to the Resource Centre within defined economic and operating guidelines, and ensure optimal use of employee capacity and equipment to achieve project and SASRI goals.

Resources within PERC include expertise within the Agricultural Engineering, Agronomy and Crop Nutrition and Soil Science fields.

Expertise

Environmental Management; Safety Health and Environmental (SHE) Management and Analytical Laboratory Management.

Qualifications

BSc (Hons) UNISA.

(vacant)

Resource Manager: Extension & Biosecurity

Details

Resource Manager: Extension & Biosecurity

Tel: 031 508 7400 (Switchboard)
Tel: 031 508 7544 (Direct)
Email:

Role & Overall Purpose

Awaiting content.

Expertise

Awaiting content.

Specific Interests

Awaiting content.

Qualifications

Awaiting content.