by Lee Fairchild
While preparing for my trip, I began to imagine the row crop farms that I would be seeing. In my mind, I expected very little use of technology. In my mind, I prepared to see small farms with "skippy" stands of crops, fully expecting a big yield lag from the U.S. While their yields aren't quite what we do in the States, I have been impressed. The farms that we visited, Schoeman Boerdery and Leeubank, were the furthest thing from my thoughts.
On Friday, January 22nd, we traveled to Delmas to visit the Schoeman Boerdery to tour with general manager, Brett Parrott. Mr. Parott showed us some of his 3,500 acres of white beans, 11,000 acres of soybeans, and 10,500 acres of both white and yellow corn.
In addition to farming on a large scale, the Schoeman farm also produces fertilizer in an on-farm plant, has commercial grain storage of 2.22 million bushels, and runs a white bean processing facility, also on the farm. What was most impressive to me about this farm was the technology, self sufficiency, and efficiency. Mr. Parrott uses the latest technology throughout the entire farm, such as Green Star on tractors and a laser bean sorter and processor. I left amazed that such a large scale farm could be so self sufficient and efficient.
On Sunday, January 24th we traveled to the town of Belfast to visit the Leeubank farm of Mr. Gerrit Roos. Mr. Roos farms over 50,000 acres of corn and soybeans. In addition to row crops, Mr. Roos raises 4,000 German merino sheep and Tuli and Pinzgauer cattle. Mr. Roos also operates a soybean meal plant. What was truly eye-opening about this farm is scale.
Like Mr. Parrot's farm, this farm relies heavily on precision farming on the row crop side. Without precision agriculture, Mr. Roos would most likely not be able to farm on the scale he does. Mr. Roos partners with companies such as Pioneer and Monsanto to glean the latest information on multiple varieties.
It's been an eye opening experience being in South Africa. Mr. Parrott and Mr. Roos prove that things aren't always as they seem.
Lee Fairchild is from East Carroll Parish and works as an Ag Loan Officer for Delta Bank. He has also worked for 15 years on a family owned farm as well as being in his third year as a self-employed famer. He farms 150 acres of corn and soybeans in East Carroll Parish.