Lucerne Production Gains Momentum In The Western Free State
Farmer's Weekly|November 15, 2019
Lucerne under irrigation provides Free State farmer Boeboe Louw with an ideal alternative to grain. Annelie Coleman visited him on his farm in the Wesselsbron district to find out how he manages production to gain the most from this valuable export crop.
Boeboe Louw

Boeboe Louw, owner of the farm Bloudrif on the banks of the Vaal River in the Wesselsbron district, has been producing lucerne under irrigation from the river for the past 15 years. Initially, he planted the crop to provide feed for his dairy herd. But after he stopped milking a few years later, he decided to continue with lucerne, and even increase production. With access to ample water and good soil, he was keen to take advantage of the ever-increasing demand for the crop.

“Despite the fact that I have to spend a relatively large sum to re-establish the lands every five years, lucerne production remains decidedly more profitable for me than crops such as maize and sunflower. The only prerequisite is enough water,” he says. Lucerne, a perennial summer legume, is well adapted to almost all areas of South Africa, but prefers deep, well-drained soils with a neutral to high pH.

IRRIGATION REQUIREMENTS

On Bloudrif, approximately 180ha are planted to lucerne, irrigated by 10 pivots that each cover between 10ha and 35ha.

“A neighbour of mine recently had the water quality tested and I’m glad to say that it was good,” says Louw.

The lucerne receives about 40mm a week (four days of irrigation followed by a three-day break) for four weeks. Irrigation is then withheld for a week before the lucerne is harvested. Louw harvests seven times a season, resulting in an annual water requirement of between 800mm and 1 200mm, which averages about R7 700/ha/year at present.

Irrigation is adjusted according to the weather. Louw explains that lucerne struggles with extremes: dry weather or an excess of water.

“The plants don’t like to stand with their feet in water,” he says. This makes heavy clay soils and a shallow water table unsuitable for lucerne production.

Continue reading your story on the app

Continue reading your story in the magazine

MORE STORIES FROM FARMER'S WEEKLYView All

Taking the sting out of the drought

Living through long periods of minimal rainfall has become a way of life for many farmers in various parts of South Africa. Brett Walker, who farms mixed livestock in the Eastern Cape, spoke to Glenneis Kriel about the various ways in which he alleviates the impact of the ongoing seven-year drought in the region.

7 mins read
Farmer's Weekly
June 18, 2021

The basics of bull management

The money-maker in the herd is the bull, says eastern Free State Simbra breeder Rick Dell. He spoke to Annelie Coleman about the management and selection of breeding bulls for commercial cattle herds.

6 mins read
Farmer's Weekly
June 18, 2021

Living the organic farming fantasy in the Western Cape Winelands

Following the rebuilding of Tulbagh after the 1969 earthquake, Brian Berkman has discovered that this historic town is experiencing yet another revival with trendy art galleries and farm-to-table dining.

4 mins read
Farmer's Weekly
June 18, 2021

Benefits of irrigating with wastewater

A recent study by Dr James Meyer, a private consultant, and Dr Rian Pierneef, a researcher in bioinformatics at the Agricultural Research Council’s Biotechnology Platform, found that wastewater from piggeries significantly increased the microbial diversity of soil. Pieter Dempsey spoke to the researchers.

5 mins read
Farmer's Weekly
June 18, 2021

The pros and cons of drip irrigation

Drip irrigation saves water and electricity, but is not suitable for all crop types. So make sure you end up with the right system, says Bill Kerr.

3 mins read
Farmer's Weekly
June 18, 2021

Groote Post: channelling a crisis into an opportunity

In 2020, South Africa’s wine industry encountered an unusual challenge: a ban on the sale of alcohol as part of the fight against COVID-19. This crisis spurred Groote Post, a family-run wine farm outside Darling, to blend its Internet savvy and tourism offerings with its tradition of winemaking and selling. The farm’s Nick and Peter Pentz spoke to Jeandre van der Walt.

5 mins read
Farmer's Weekly
June 18, 2021

How composting works

Composting speeds up the natural decay of organic material by providing the ideal conditions for detritus-eating organisms to thrive. The result is nutrient-rich soil that helps plants grow.

3 mins read
Farmer's Weekly
June 18, 2021

A formula for successful fynbos production

Nico Thuynsma’s love for all things floral and horticultural, and fynbos in particular, led him to establish a nursery and cut flower operation in the Cullinan area of Gauteng, where he produces proteas and other types of fynbos. Pieter Dempsey spoke to him about his passion for growing these plants.

5 mins read
Farmer's Weekly
June 18, 2021

A charming countryside guest house

Ellas in Greyton offers exceptional food, lovely views and wonderful hospitality, says Brian Berkman.

4 mins read
Farmer's Weekly
June 11, 2021

Cost-effective irrigation

Over-irrigating costs you money in terms of water and electricity, and may lower your crops’ potential. Under-irrigating is also detrimental. Learn to irrigate properly and at the optimal time, says Bill Kerr.

2 mins read
Farmer's Weekly
June 11, 2021
RELATED STORIES

SWISS POLICE RAID OVER HACK ON U.S. SECURITY-CAMERA COMPANY

Swiss authorities confirmed a police raid at the home of a Swiss software engineer who took credit for helping to break into a U.S. security-camera company’s online networks, part of what the activist hacker cited as an effort to raise awareness about the dangers of mass surveillance.

2 mins read
Techlife News
Techlife News #490

When Nimby Met Maga

Liberals on the Upper West Side wanted to oust hundreds of homeless men from a local hotel. Then Tucker Carlson took up their cause.

10+ mins read
New York magazine
October 12-25, 2020

Night Watch

Lucerne lights up with activity when the day is done.

1 min read
Global Traveler
March 2020

The Legend Of Lou Williams

He’s a three-time sixth man of the year. He’s your favorite player’s favorite player. He’s the underground goat. This is the legend of Lou Williams.

10+ mins read
Slam
September - October 2019

The production of good-quality hay

Good-quality hay is known for several properties.

5 mins read
Stockfarm
February 2021

George knocks down 36, Clippers pound Cavs

Paul George shot 8-for-9 from 3-point range and scored 36 points to lead the visiting Los Angeles Clippers to a 121-99 win against the Cleveland Cavaliers on Wednesday night.

1 min read
The Philippine Star
February 05, 2021

Great Lakes

Here’s our bucket list guide to eight fabulous lakes around the world

3 mins read
What's On Dubai
September 2020

It Feels As If My Children Have Died

Two of Louwna’s sons have sued her for maintenance – and now they’ve cut all ties with her

6 mins read
YOU South Africa
10 September 2020

Clippers guard Williams to miss at least 2 games

MIAMI (AFP) – Los Angeles Clippers guard Lou Williams will miss at least two NBA restart games while serving a 10-day quarantine after improperly extending a family emergency leave.

1 min read
Manila Bulletin
July 28, 2020

ONCE UPON A TIME

Culture, art, and delicious food distinguish the medieval town of Lucerne

1 min read
Harper's Bazaar India
June - July 2020