Categories: ZambiaPublished On: 19th September 2016

Reclaim your savanna with Dow AgroSciences

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The big secret is to use a combination of fire, manual clearing and herbicides to control unwanted vegetation and reclaim grazing.

It is a well-known truth that the effectiveness of farming boils down to the particular management of your soil, and for a stock farmer, effective vegetation management is the next step to success. Effective vegetation management increases carrying capacity and herd numbers, and this is something that Dirk Jan Muijs of Casavera Farming is fully aware of.

Dirk came to Zambia for the first time in 1972 and he has a long history in the Zambian livestock industry. Amongst other ventures, he was also the founder and general manager of Livestock Services. Dirk farms outside Lusaka with Bonsmaras and three years ago he became aware that the Lantana and Sickle bush were slowly but steadily taking over his grazing. Dirk says: “If you talk to the local farmers of sixty seventy years ago, or to their children, they will tell you there were far less bushes and shrubs and the carrying capacity was higher. Since then, due to more intensive grazing and less ‘managed burning’ we noted more and more bush encroachment and a reducing carrying capacity.

Due to increased bush encroachment there remained not enough ‘fuel’ for bush control through burning.”

Contractors using machinery to clear bush charge up to $1 000/ha plus fuel and VAT. If you have your own machine, it still costs around $1 000/ha in total and the second time it is about $250/ha. But then you still have to spray or else it will come back again. Manual clearing is still very cheap and for heavy bush Dirk pays around 300 kwacha/ha and for lighter bush, 200 to 250 kwacha/ha, but if you don’t do it regularly it will come back within two years.

Dirk contacted several agchem companies and eventually Dow Agro- Sciences presented Plenum™ to him. Dirk is adamant to preserve the typical savanna vegetation with thick grass and scattered big trees. One of the previous herbicides he used killed the trees as well, but with Plenum™ he achieved perfect results. “The most important is to use an integrated strategy of manual clearing, fire and herbicide treatments in a program approach,’’ he says.

Dirk started this process early in 2015 on the most productive areas on his farm. He employed 30 clearers who cut corridors in the Lantana to get access into the brush for the knapsack sprayers, and towards the end of 2015 he could burn the dead weeds.  Early this year, his clearers sprayed the young bushes germinating from the dormant seed banks. “It will take about two years to be on top of it,” he says.

Plenum™ doesn’t have to be alternated with other products to prevent resistance, but it can be mixed with other hormonal herbicides to kill the bigger bushes.

A farmer can also use firefighters to apply the herbicide and the usage is between five to six litres per ha. Today, Dirk already cleared approximately 300 to 400 hectares and tripled his carrying capacity on the open pastures, which will have a drastic influence on his profitability.

Call Kobus Meintjes at +27-82-323-6348, Fredie Ndindana at +27-82-612-6599 or Jerry Grieve +260-97-777-2481, or send an email to kjmeintjes@dow.com, fndindana@dow.com or jerry.grieve@syngenta.com to assist you in restoring your grazing.

Dirk Jan Muijs, owner of Casavera Farming, and Jerry Grieve, Key Accounts Manager of MRI Seed are very impressed with the results of Dow Agro- Sciences’ Plenum™ on Dirk’s grazing.

Dirk Jan Muijs, owner of Casavera Farming, and Jerry Grieve, Key Accounts Manager of MRI Seed are very impressed with the results of Dow Agro- Sciences’ Plenum™ on Dirk’s grazing.

Happy cattle are cattle surrounded with lush and abundant grazing.

Happy cattle are cattle surrounded with lush and abundant grazing.

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