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:

  • Determination of the impact of salinity and sodicity for soil and water used for irrigation on production sustainability.
  • 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.

Remote sensing work has been extended to the automation of obtaining accurate shape files of sugarcane fields and the identification of land use by sugarcane.

Small-Scale Sugarcane Farming

This work aims to equip the small-scale grower with knowledge required to utilise the potential of his environment to earn a sustainable livelihood.

  • Focus areas are irrigation, pest and disease control and variety selection.
  • In a proof-of-concept project, drones are used on small and fractioned land to apply ripeners to add value to the crop.
  • The development of a database of each small-scale grower region to be used by extension. From this database soil property maps are produced.
  • The development of a soil sustainability modular course rich in demonstration tools teaching soil properties and their management for sustainable production.

Current Projects

Assessing the water footprints of selected fuel and fibre crops in South Africa

Refining the Crop Forecast Database and Model

Crop Estimates DSP based on StalkGro

The development of soil quality databases for SSG regions

Soil conservation learning resources for small-scale extension

Advancing cane quality management in the small-scale grower sector

Small-scale producer technology development: Variety choice and management

Small-scale producer technology development: Disease control

Small-scale Grower technology development: Pest control

Small-scale Grower technology development: Irrigation management

Development of Datasets for Multi-Scale Water Resource Assessments

Investigating alternative energy supplies to assist with load shedding

A geospatial workflow for extracting crop panel/field boundaries for the area under cane

Programme Manager: Systems Design & Optimisation

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