Grow for gold an opportunity for benchmarking

Published: 12 December 2023

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Comparing yourself against your own goals and dreams but also to other like-minded producers, not only brings forward the best in people, but equally offers the opportunity for benchmarking. This is what the Grain SA Grow for Gold yield competition is all about.

Grain SA chairperson, Derek Mathews, welcomes the finalists and guests at the Grow for Gold event.

According to Grain SA chairperson, Derek Mathews, it is of the utmost importance that producers share their success strategies – especially those followed to achieve record-high yields – amidst the production constraints they are facing in South Africa. ‘I am often asked why we host a competition like this. The answer always is: If we do not continue to strive for better, higher, and more, we will stagnate. We must look further than the now. We must keep our eyes on the future and see how we can move the goalposts. We hope that this competition will serve as an inspiration to all producers.’

He added that while the competition focuses on yield gains, in the end it is about increased and sustainable food production.

Mathews also thanked the event sponsors and input suppliers, saying that no producer will achieve success without quality inputs and support from companies in the agricultural sector.

This year the entries once again pushed the yield boundaries, especially in the categories for soybeans where all seven winners set new yield records.

With the technology levy system in place, seed companies are willing to bring new technology and varieties to South Africa and this is creating the platform for growth in the soybean industry.

The increase in area as well as the new yield records in soybeans, are good news. The last couple of years saw a significant increase in the area planted to soybeans. In the early 1970s, 20 000 ha were planted to soybeans and by 1992 the area had more than doubled to 46 000 ha. In 2022, according to the national Crop Estimates Committee, soybeans were cultivated on just under 1 million hectares.

The competition also produced three other yield records – two in maize and one in sunflower – bringing the total of new records in the 2023 competition to ten.

As a multi-year and multi-category winner in the Grow for Gold yield competition, Danie Gerber from Balfour shared some of his experiences. He noted that measuring his practices and yields against his own goals, but also against the achievements of other producers, brought exceptional value to his farming operation. ‘One has to determine where you are excelling and achieving success, but also identify the areas where one can still improve.’

He pointed out that the following were important when chasing yield whilst also focusing on profitability:

  • Compete with yourself.
  • Record-keeping.
  • Remain informed by reading, talking to other producers, and attending producer information days.
  • Focus on protecting your yield.

According to Dr Dirk Strydom, head: Marketing, NAMPO and Research Coordination at Grain SA, the grain industry in South Africa is privileged to not only have some of the best producers in the country, but in the world. ‘If we see what our producers are capable of without receiving any or very little support from government, it remains amazing what they continuously achieve.’

He praised the producers for the record-breaking yields they achieved and acknowledged that it takes a great deal of dedication. ‘It is important that we as an industry and producers keep on striving to be the most effective, to use our resources sustainably and in a clever manner, to make use of genetic gains and to push the boundaries.’

Dr Strydom complimented and thanked producers for the role they play in the South African rural landscape. ‘Approaching projects and farming as a collective is what will ensure success and progress. It remains critical, therefore, to learn from each other and share best practices.’

Some of the winners at this year’s Grow for Gold national yield competition.