Climate-Proof, No-Till Crop Production In The Maize Triangle
Farmer's Weekly|November 13, 2020
Cocky Mokoka has been farming since 2007, but only started incorporating conservation agriculture principles to improve his soil in 2015. He spoke to Pieter Dempsey about the practices he implements on his 740ha farm.
Pieter Dempsey

Cocky Mokoka runs a mixed farming operation, which includes a livestock and cropping component, on the 740ha farm Seeikoeifontein near Vanderbijlpark, Gauteng. His main focus is on crops, however, with roughly 400ha dedicated to crop production. He implements a rotational cropping programme of maize, soya bean and sunflower.

The farm is situated in South Africa’s maize triangle, an area known for producing some of the highest maize yields in the country. While the farm is thus ideal for crop production, Mokoka decided to diversify his operation by including livestock because of the escalating costs associated with crop production.

Mokoka has been renting Seekoeifontein on a 30-year lease agreement from government since 2007.

LIVESTOCK

He runs a mixed herd of about 100 animals, but says he aims to grow his herd to about 300 animals. He also wants to include more Nguni genetics in his breeding programme, as Ngunis can be sold for their meat and hides.

Mokoka is a participant in a farmer development scheme run by the Sernick Group in Kroonstad in the Free State. This programme gives him access to additional cattle, which he can use to increase his herd. He also supplies cattle directly to a Sernick feedlot.

Mokoka runs his own small feedlot, where he finishes off bull calves before selling them to an abattoir near him. He also supplies grass-fed cattle to a company that supplies a large retailer. Mokoka plants lucerne and sorghum as grazing for his livestock.

CROP MANAGEMENT

Mokoka first started researching the principles of conservation agriculture more than 10 years ago, when he was considering switching from conventional crop production to a more sustainable production model that would help improve the quality of his soil.

“I came to the realisation that if I kept on tilling the land and turning the soil, I would kill the land,” he says.

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