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Land reform and radical economic transformation. I got no reply from our President to this letter I sent him.

To President Zuma

This letter relates to your calling for radical economic transformation in South Africa, which is apparently going to happen when farmland (specifically white owned) is taken without compensation.

Before we delve into this issue lets be clear that this is just another example of the tactic, by your ANC primarily, to divert from your mismanagement of the country whilst you try to loot what remains. It is directly from the Robert Mugabe textbook on governance. Examples abound, the most recent being the Coligny drama. (See Rian Malan’s article on this)

Increasing desperation is the sign that accompanies the loss of hegemony.

First, who is going to feed the people if all the white farmer’s land is taken? From your rabid support of Mugabe it appears that you are ignoring the fact that Zimbabwe used to be the breadbasket of Africa but since your hero kicked all white farmers off their farms the country cannot feed itself and has to rely on donated food. Those white farmers have found work elsewhere but their farm labourers have not been so lucky.

Second, there’s no point in taking land from white farmers if you don’t have the infrastructure in place to ensure that this land stays productive. Not a single land claim farm in this country, managed by the claimants, has remained productive. That is a massive failure on the part of the ANC. Some farm workers could become farm managers but this requires prolonged investment in their training and as you well know your government has little interest in the hard work of teaching skills and consequently uplifting people. Organised agriculture throughout the country has made many offers to government to help in this regard but it has been repeatedly rebuffed.

Third, at least 80% of white-owned farmland is in turn owned by the banks so by taking the land you’ll be unburdening the banks of their load. Do you really want to do this? That does not suit another of your myths, namely white monopoly capital.

Fourth, the people are sick. South Africa is the third most obese nation on earth. There are many reasons for this however the primary reason is that the people are being fed the wrong food. Imagine the impact if you spent your energy on encouraging farmers to grow food that nourishes humans and heals the land, regardless of the age, sex or skin colour of the farmer. Sustainability is an outdated idea. Regenerative agriculture is the future.

Fifth, how does your scenario play out in the Western and Northern Cape? The original inhabitants, the San, have been practically exterminated therefore there are no possibilities for land claims.

Sixth, the government is the biggest landowner. It is black. The second biggest landowners are the tribal chiefs. They are also black. The chief’s land, being generally the most fertile, has the most potential to produce food for the people however it is overgrazed and mismanaged. Your clearly don’t have the courage to take on the chiefs and so instead you try to bully white farmers, most of whom are making a humble living on marginal agricultural land.

Arguably the best example of how economically sterile land has become productive is the Amadlelo Agri project in the Eastern Cape. This is how land claims should be handled.

Next time you are in the Cape, Mr President, allow me take you around our farm near Stellenbosch where we can discuss how regenerative agriculture creates jobs, nourishes humans and heals the earth.

Yours sincerely

Farmer Angus

16 May 2017

Chicken soup for the soil – a soil amendment I recently applied

One of the best things about my job is I get to see my mentors relatively regularly as the regenerative agricultural world is rather small. One of the pioneers of the movement in this country is Dick Isted. They farm near Lady Grey in the Eastern Cape. They have been building fertility there for many years. Click here to get some insight into their farm.

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Dick and his wife Margot came to the farm in October last year and after some hen massage we went looking in the soil. Dick was very clear that my plants needed help and the only way was through a soil amendment that Jerry Brunetti designed. He called it chicken soup for the soil. For the recipe and the suppliers of the various products click here chicken soup for the soil, oct 2016 Note that in Jerry’s recipe he used molasses. I have chosen not to use it as I have no interest in Glyphosate being on my farm. I am working on a blog on this carcinogen/descaling agent.

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Luckily for me I have neighbours who have the right, big spray equipment. The mixing tank on the right and the boom sprayer on the left and below.

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The boom sprayer in action

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To ensure that the mix is made up properly requires someone with brains. Fortunately Matt has plenty of that. He worked on the farm for 2 months after university, prior to going to the US. He has a podcast that goes by the name of In The Know. He interviewed me for his 6th episode.

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Was spending all that money worth it? Absolutely. First, as per the picture above there is good nodulation on the lucerne which was not there in October. Dick is pointing to one of the nodules on the plant roots that is the home of the bacteria that fix Nitrogen from the sky into the plants and the soil. Second, the farm has never looked as good as it did up to three weeks ago. This was after a very hot and long summer following a winter with half the normal rain. 95% of my irrigation water was cut 3 weeks ago. Here is the story.

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After seeing the impact of the chicken soup for the soil, the Isteds and I had a celebratory lunch. I had our rump. The our being the Isteds and I as I had bought the weaner oxen from them almost 2 years ago.

Angus

31 March 2017.

Free choice mineral licks. Update. Biological farming vs mechanical farming.

In February 2014  I wrote this article about free choice mineral licks.

Since then we have expanded the range of minerals that are available to our cattle and we also now have free choice minerals for our pigs and for our laying hens.

The principle remains the same. All soils are deficient, the plants growing in those soils are deficient, the animals eating those plants (in this case my beef) are deficient and deficiency manifests as disease. The cattle self medicate by choosing which lick they need. 30% is used to fix the internal imbalance and the rest comes out of the back end biologically available to the plants.

In the last year I have had to give one of my animals antibiotics. One injection only. I ascribe this to moving them twice daily to fresh pasture as well as having the smorgasbord of free choice minerals available to them every single day.

 

Click here free-choice-mineral-lick-sept-2016 for a spreadsheet with the exact mixes that we use as well as the suppliers we get the various ingredients from. The spreadsheet has two worksheets.

To understand what I mean by farming biologically versus mechanically you need to understand how different our (biological) way is from the conventional (mechanical) way. The mechanical way it to take soil samples, send these off to laboratory and then apply the minerals recommended by the agronomist or technical advisor of the company selling the minerals. The minerals are spread via compost spreader that is pulled by a tractor. Calibration is a nightmare. Tractors cannot have babies, they use diesel, they compact your soil and tractor drivers are expensive labour. Whereas cattle can have babies. I can eat them when they have finished working, they don’t compact your soil (provided you move them daily), they don’t have to be calibrated and their drivers never have hangovers.

Angus

29 September 2016

 

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