This programme investigates, develops and transfers innovative systems that optimise industry agricultural performance.
Research, development and innovation is conducted in four main areas.

Production Sustainability

Research in this Key Area focuses on topical issues pertaining to production sustainability, including:

  • Assessment of the impacts of agronomic and mechanisation issues on production efficiencies and sustainability;
  • Determination of opportunities for on-farm energy savings and reduction of carbon dioxide emissions;
  • Deployment of novel technologies to improve operational efficiencies and services to the industry; and
  • Development of new and improvement of existing technologies and approaches to further promote alignment between research and development and industry requirements.

Water Management

Research in this Key Area focuses on the:

  • Development of recommendations and advice to promote effective water management and deployment of associated technologies, both in terms of irrigation practices and surface water management; and
  • Analysis of the socio-technical drivers of adoption of technology, recommendations and best practice advice, with specific reference to irrigation scheduling.

Technology Development

This Key Area encompasses the adaptation, development and deployment of technologies that focus on enhancing SASRI internal efficiencies and the quality of service provision by the institute to the industry.

Remote Sensing

This research area aims to adapt an existing sugarcane crop forecasting system (a model-based system) to utilise real-time estimates of canopy cover derived from remotely sensed data. It is believed that this will improve the quality of crop forecasts, enabling improved efficiency of cane supply and value chains.

Although the concept has been proven before and is used for other crops, the application of the approach to operational sugarcane crop forecasting is unique internationally.

Current Projects

Revamping MyCanesim

Yield mapping in the sugarcane industry

Ratoon longevity

Alternative ground-application methods for chemical ripening

Development of updated design norms for soil and water conservation structures (UKZN Project: Prof. Jeff Smithers) (report to be submitted in June 2019)

Developing a Participatory RD&E process for small-scale growers in the South African sugar industry

Management guidelines for technology transfer to reduce salinization of irrigated land under sugarcane (WRC-funded Project)

Assessing the water footprints of selected fuel and fibre crops in South Africa (WRC-funded Project)

Improving spatial upscaling for modelling regions

An interactive variety information tool

Development of a simple method to estimate sugarcane yields

Programme Manager: Systems Design & Optimisation

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