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A project away from your home country may sometimes be a risk, but presently, Agrico is making a mark on a pineapple farm in Swaziland.
The Rhodes Group, well known for their canning factories, last year embarked on pineapple production on the Norsa farm near Siphofaneni. “Agrico already had pivots on the farm for a previous sugarcane project, and that is how we came to know them,” says Genesi Langwenya, the Rhodes Group’s General Manager for pineapple farms.
“We decided to continue using Agrico’s services. In July last year, we began planting pineapples and Agrico erected more pivots as the farm expanded. Fourteen pivots are running already, and four more are in the final phase, but we are still clearing land for more pineapple fields that will need pivots,” he said.
“Agrico will remain here until deep in 2020, as approximately 340 more hectares will need pivots.
“The reason why we prefer pivot irrigation is that pivots are far more effective than water cannons. Pivots demand far less labour than water cannons and use water more effectively. Moreover, the farm is very hilly and Agrico’s pivots handle slopes very well,” Genesi said.
Although the Mzimphofu river runs along the farm’s border, they are subjected to restricted water allocations, but with Agrico’s pivots, they will easily stay within their quota.
Pineapples need quite a lot of water throughout the year and Agrico’s pivots can supplement during dry spells.
“We need between 70 and 80 mm per month and when it does not rain, the pivots can easily apply the necessary water,” said Genesi. “You can increase the water application of the pivots according to your needs.”
Agrico also expanded the pump stations in the river and at the storage dams supplying the various pivots. They also laid the main and secondary supply lines to every pivot.
Mduduzi Sibandze is the Farm Operational Manager and he uses Agrico’s most advanced data and web control system to communicate with the pivots. From his cell phone, he can switch pivots on or off, change the speed and regulate water application.
For accurate irrigation scheduling they now placed probes under each pivot. These probes can be integrated with the web control system to make sure that exactly the desired amount of water is applied.
Although the water from the river is clean enough for pivot irrigation, blockages of the sprinklers may sometimes still occur, but they are easy to remove by simply opening and cleaning them. With micro or drip irrigation proper filtration would have been needed with the added disadvantages of losing pressure, wasting water with back flushing and increased danger of blockages.
Agrico’s pivots are tall. Should the plans change, they can easily switch over to the production of taller crops such as sugarcane.
According to Genesi, Agrico’s service is superb: “When you embark on a new project, you will always experience teething problems, but with Agrico you can sit around a table and solve matters. We can plan the future with them. That is why we are fully satisfied with their expertise, service and support,” he said.