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Dr Mike Wallace

AGRICULTURAL BIOMASS PRODUCTION IN THE


WESTERN CAPE
Overview
Western Cape agricultural character
What crops do we produce?
The wheat story
Measuring, modelling & monitoring
productivity
Biofuels vs food
Sustainability issues
CapeFarmMapper
Winter Rainfall Western Cape
Land Use Western Cape
Dryland vs Irrigated
It is unlikely that any mainstream biofuel will be
feasibly produced under irrigation, so this
discussion is mainly based on dryland
production.
The main dryland crop in the Western Cape is
wheat, mostly grown in various rotation
systems.
Dryland Yield Potential
Previous wheat areas (pre-1990s)
Seasonal Rainfall > 300mm
Climate trends study
Temperature increasing
Windrun decreasing
Evaporation decreasing (A-Pan)
Rainfall no clear trends
Study on Observed Climate
ChangeTrends
Temperature trends
Tmax
Tmin
We have a history of variability.
1825-1829 predominance of reports of drought and
desiccation
1830-1833 flood and good rain reports predominated
1834-1843 drought reports predominate
1844-1848 wetter years
18491851 drought reports predominate
1852-1860 wetter years, particularly in the eastern parts
1872-1878 drought reports predominant
1881-1885 predominance of dry conditions

This variability in the WCape is likely to continue!!
Our climate differs vastly from the
rest of SA
& thus our biofuels strategy will also differ vastly!
We have a generally low rainfall.
And mostly unfavourable soils
Our dryland production zones
Crop modelling
Analyses all the parameters of soil, rainfall,
temperature, radiation, and crop together to
determine crop growth & yield at a daily time
step
Can change input parameters to test multiple
scenarios
Crop modelling &
Vulnerability analysis
Future daily climate
Scenarios (8GCMs)
Observed
daily climate
HFA Data
Wheat Homogeneous Zones
Climate change scenarios
Source downscaled data
Downscaled daily data (9 GCMs)
(C02 levels 2046 2065)
Reformat to APSIM
Test
Primary Impacts
Yield/growing season
Climate
data
Crop
model
Soil
data
GCM Data
(Select emissions scenario)
Spatial
Where? Systems?
How much? How is it performing?
Climate
Daily observed climate (clean!)
Soils
Highly detailed representative soil/s
per zone
Western Cape
What crops do we produce?
Where are they produced?

We recently undertook a detailed crop census
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Limitations of ground survey
Time-consuming & intensive

Limited to (public) road access

Huge areas inaccessible from roads
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Land use mapping in the old days
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Land use mapping now
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Main crops grown in the Western Cape
Top crops by area
Rank Top Commodities Area (Ha)
1 Lucerne 398 819,6
2 Wheat 312 476,1
3 Planted Pastures Perennial 237 407,1
4 Small Grain Grazing 190 324,6
5 Natural grazing 109 095,1
6 Wine Grapes 108 040,9
7 Fallow 89 129,0
8 Canola 71 864,5
9 Barley 70 237,8
10 Planted Pastures 52 630,5
11 Lupine 38 468,1
12 Rooibos 35 978,1
13 Weeds 32 735,0
14 Apples 21 030,2
15 Table Grapes 12 683,5
16 Pears 11 086,3
17 Stubble 9 745,2
18 Triticale 9 289,6
19 Peaches 7 783,8
20 Oranges 7 621,4
21 Potatoes 6 705,1
22 Olives 6 164,0
23 Plums 5 762,6
24 Onions 4 719,1
25 Oats 4 210,3
Crops by estimated value
per local municipality
But agriculture is dynamic changes
continually
Can use satellite imagery to monitor annual or
in-season changes

Coarser scale satellite imagery usually available
for free

Allows us to monitor crop & veld condition and
changes
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Dryland wheat rotation crops in the
Western Cape
Wheat
Barley
Lucerne/Medics/Clover
Lupins
Canola

Wheat is proving to be most profitable when grown
in a rotation system with minimum tillage to
increase soil carbon
Fieldwork - calibration of spatial models
& satellite imagery
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Harvesting trials yield data

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The concept of NDVI
One of various vegetation indices used to
assess plant growth, vigour and biomass from
multispectral satellite imagery
Vegetation:

Pigment in Plant Leaves (Chlorophyll)
strongly absorbs visible light (0.4 to
0.7 m)

Cell Structure however strongly
reflects Near-IR (0.7 1.1 m)


Thanks to Robin Weeks
(courtesy http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov)
NDVI
MODIS NDVI - derived dryland
production mapping
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Fieldwork - calibration of
our NDVI drought maps
Satellite Image for NDVI
Summer
Satellite image for NDVI
Winter
The concept of NDVI (cont.)
NDVI images are processed for every 10 or 16 days using
Maximum Value Compositing to minimise atmospheric effects
In-season monitoring using pixel
values of NDVI
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Current season (2012)
vs 12 year mean at
Langgewens
In-season monitoring
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2003 drought season
vs 12 year mean at
Eendekuil
SA & Western Cape dryland wheat
production
The impact of deregulation, circa 1996:

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South Africa wheat area planted South Africa wheat production Linear (South Africa wheat production)
Wheat production (t/ha) and area
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Production Year
Production of wheat in South Africa
Noordwes/North West
Gauteng
Limpopo
Mpumalanga
Kwazulu-Natal
Vrystaat/Free State
Oos-Kaap/E. Cape
Noord-Kaap/N. Cape
Wes-Kaap/W. Cape
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KORING: OPPERVLAKTE, PRODUKSIE EN INVOERE
Oppervlakte (ha) Produksie (ton) Invoere (ton)
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JARE / YEARS
TOTALE GEMIDDELDE OPBRENGS VAN KORING / TOTAL AVERAGE YIELD OF WHEAT
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Wheat: Percentage imports of RSA consumption
Invoere / Imports % invoere t.o.v RSA verbruik/ % imported of RSA consumption
So many old wheat fields were abandoned.
Marginal land
Land owners select land use according to optimal
returns
Marginal land will remain as such unless energy crops
can be produced at a lower real cost on marginal land
than on productive land subsidies?
Wheat unpopular transport differential imposed on
WCape wheat farmers
Barley uncertain market
Canola limited market, some potential
Triticale an alternative to wheat, fair potential


Spatial feasibility modelling
Spatial feasibility modelling (cont)
Marginal land - soils & sustainability
Western cape soils generally shallow and
nutritionally poor (low organic C)
Conservation agriculture essential for
sustainability judiciously applied can
ameliorate soils
Biofuels must not mine soils so residues
should be retaineda hidden cost of 2
nd
gen
biofuels?
Current thinking on biofuel options for
the Western Cape
Triticale bio-ethanol
Canola biodiesel

Straw/residues should be retained in soil
Rotate grain/oilseed with legume for soil
amelioration and animal fodder component
Trials to be implemented from 2015 to test the
performance of biofuels in the rotation
Economics??

Biofuels vs food debate as it may
apply to the Western Cape
Much more wheat/food could be produced in
the Western Capebut cheaper to import
than to farm marginal land.
(We are food secure as a result of favourable balance
of payments. So far)

Yet the Western Cape is now the main wheat
producing region in SA

Perhaps the argument should be that by
sustainable production of biofuels we can
ensure that the land resource retains (and
even improves) its latent capacity to revert to
food production if ever necessary

With government support biofuels may
improve rural economy/jobs
Biofuels vs food debate as it may
apply to the Western Cape (cont)

Conclusion
We have looked at:
What we have currently in terms of agricultural crops
How we measure and monitor our crops
The tenuous resources (climate and soil) which
support our dryland cropping, and climatic trends
The decline in wheat area and resulting (so-called)
marginal land
Some possible biofuels development pathways in
the dryland (wheat, etc.) rotation context

Cape Farm Mapper
Agricultural Spatial
Information Viewer

Farm finder/SG Code
finder
Overlays climate etc.
Will soon include 2013
crop survey
Basic mapping/area
calculation
Integrated data per
farm portion
Import/Export
www.elsenburg.com/gis/apps/cfm
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