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Farmer John Says
12 Sep 2018
Published in Farmer John Says
What do you do if you're a fast-growing city in the desert with lots of thirsty people and little freshwater reserves? Park an iceberg off the coast. That's one Dubai-based engineering firm's plan to provide fresh drinking water to the city's rapidly-expanding population. The National Advisor Bureau (NABL), a private engineering firm, wants to schlep a glacial iceberg from Antarctica — weighing approximately 100 million tons — to Dubai, via an intermediate stop in either Perth, Australia, or Cape Town. If the iceberg doesn't melt along the way, the firm will sell the water to Dubai's government. "If we succeed…
11 Sep 2018
Published in Farmer John Says
August 2018 marked the start of the Autonomous Greenhouses Challenge as five international teams try to grow cucumbers at a distance with the use of artificial intelligence at the facilities of Wageningen University & Research (WUR). The goal is to convert knowledge about cultivation into algorithms that can enable computers to regulate cultivation automatically in the future, even in places where such knowledge is lacking. So, the question is: Can computers do as well as farmers? The five international teams will have four months to produce a cucumber yield remotely and without human intervention, using as little water, nutrition and…
10 Sep 2018
Published in Farmer John Says
“The nation that destroys its soil, destroys itself.” – Franklin D Roosevelt It is a fact that we have destroyed our soils to crisis point. If we don’t change the trajectory we are on, our planet will eventually be uninhabitable. The symptoms of worldwide desertification are everywhere, including horrific droughts, floods and fires. Our problems are mounting, caused by reductionist management, as opposed to holistic management. This style of management is killing life in soils and oceans and is causing desertification and climate change. The good news is that desertification can be reversed and that we can bring soils back…
09 Sep 2018
Published in Farmer John Says
It has been another difficult season in the Sundays River Valley, with slumbering labour unrest (against the background of 'expropriation without compensation') and a drought, the impact of which was more severe than anticipated, coupled with a slack market for most citrus categories except lemons. Three weeks to go, with the last of the Valencias and grapefruit being packed, and export volumes are reckoned to be between 10 and 20% lower, says Hannes de Waal, managing director of the Sundays River Citrus Company, but in terms of returns the outlook is more favourable, primarily because of lemons. “The lemon markets…
08 Sep 2018
Published in Farmer John Says
South Africa is not in a recession, despite the latest gross domestic product (GDP) figures released by Statistics SA, economist Roelof Botha said on Thursday. He was one of the speakers at the Momentum Consult annual conference. SA slipped into what is generally considered a technical recession - defined as two successive quarters of negative GDP growth - on Tuesday, after GDP growth decreased by 0.7% in the second quarter of the year. This follows a restated contraction of -2.6% in the first quarter. But according to Botha there is more than one way to define what a recession is.…
07 Sep 2018
Published in Farmer John Says
China imposed a ban on transporting pigs and pork products from provinces which have reported outbreaks of African swine fever and will shut live hog markets in the regions, as authorities found a sixth case of the highly contagious virus. The measures announced by the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs are the most drastic since the country discovered its first-ever case of the deadly virus a month ago, and come amid growing concerns about its spread through the world’s largest hog herd. China has discovered six cases of the disease in five provinces: in northeastern Liaoning, central Henan, and…
06 Sep 2018
Published in Farmer John Says
The Rand is tumbling due to recent GDP results, which put South Africa in a ‘technical’ recession, along with the government’s commitment to amend the Constitution in favour of land expropriation without compensation. The rand plunged almost 10% against the American dollar in August – its worst performing month in almost five years. Recent GDP reports confirm that South Africa’s economy is now in a recession, which knocked the currency down a further 3.4%. Needless to say, President Cyril Ramaphosa’s much anticipated New Dawn is disappearing as a winter solstice sunset. All the hope and promise built around ‘Ramaphoria’ has…
05 Sep 2018
Published in Farmer John Says
As the globe warms, farmers will face more drought, flooding, and crop-frying heat. But that may be nothing compared with the bugs. A new study finds that higher temperatures will produce more voracious grasshoppers, caterpillars, and other crop-devouring pests, with potentially catastrophic consequences for the world’s food supply. The study is “a stark warning” for our future food security, says Robert Paxton, an insect ecologist at the Martin Luther University of Halle-Wittenberg in Germany, who was not involved with the work. But he notes that the computer model making the dire predictions omits other factors that might limit the toll.…
04 Sep 2018
Published in Farmer John Says
Amid continuing concerns about the effect that expropriation without compensation may have on the economy, it seems clear that government has already decided to amend the Constitution – three weeks before Parliament’s process of public hearings on the amendment have been finalised. City Press’ sister publication Rapport can reveal that the majority of parties who will this week make oral submissions to the constitutional review committee – among them experts on constitutional law, academics, commercial farmers and human rights activists – are opposed to the amendment of the Constitution. About 60% of the nearly 500 000 written submissions received by…