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AGRIPROBE MARCH 2013 30 October 2013  


Mapping of Agricultural commodities and Infrastructure in the western Cape

Agricultural land use (in various scales and formats) is one of the most requested datasets from the Western Cape Department of Agriculture (WCDoA) GIS unit. Baseline commodity data and associated areas are required by decision makers at all levels and across many disciplines. At present we have little choice but to use data mainly derived from the National Land Cover (NLC) dataset, which was captured from LandSat satellite imagery by a consortium led by the CSIR, between 2000 and 2003 (NLC2000). The data was initially designed for broad scale use - i.e. around 1:250000. It does not identify actual land use (i.e. the actual commodity), but provides generalised categories of land cover - e.g. temporary cultivation, permanent cultivation, at a coarse scale. Most stakeholders nowadays require considerably more detail than this, for a wide variety of applications. Fine-scale data at farm or field scale is only available for a few areas where intensive surveys have taken place.

Examples of queries/tasks that need to be addressed by land use and associated data are: • Defining the actual, available hectares of agricultural land, and land lost to agriculture through mining, urbanisation and conservation.

  •  Rural development and land reform planning and analysis.
  • Food security planning.
  •  Mapping the “footprint” of agriculture in terms of infrastructure, commodities and projects.
  • Providing commodity statistics and/or maps to government and other stakeholders on, for example, areas under wheat, areas where persimmons are grown, total hectares under table grapes, etc.
  • Providing regional production statistics to our own officials and economists - which can be aggregated and reported at any scale from farm, to municipality, to province.
  • Departmental participation in and contribution to municipal and provincial spatial planning frameworks (SDFs).
  • Providing data in support of the Department's Land Use Management officials in decisions regarding zoning/ rezoning applications, urban edge changes, developments, etc - it is critical to know what commodities and implied land values are affected.
  • Disaster management - quick, quantifiable assessment of damage following floods, fires, and droughts. Having "inventory"-Level land use data facilitates calculation of the hectares and types of enterprises affected and associated economic impacts. Quantification of areas and commodities potentially at risk surrounding nuclear power developments.
  • Identification of all irrigated land for planning purposes.
  • Identification of land use per catchment for catchment management agencies, planning and hydrological modelling.
  • Monitoring the trends in terms of land use changes and the associated losses of agricultural land.
  • Support of conservation planning and Land care initiatives. Supporting the Department's mandated activities in natural and agricultural resource assessment and inventories.
  • Having field scale land use mapping that facilitates the "masking" of specific, similar land uses for remote sensing analysis and research, for example yield or biomass assessment using NDVI. There are likely to be a number of further transversal applications not listed here. In order to address these issues, the Department has taken the step of appointing an experienced consulting firm to conduct a field-scale aerial survey in order to simultaneously address a range of associated and urgent needs. The project is to address the needs of a wide range of Departmental stakeholders, so it becomes more of an agricultural inventory than a simple land use exercise. It is based on an "objective" survey, meaning that the surveyors generally do not contact farmers, but do most of the work by aerial survey using light aircraft and helicopters, with some remote sensing data used in the planning stages. The project will include aspects such as:
  • A summer and a winter mission to map all agricultural commodities at field scale.
  • A refinement of the existing farm spatial database.
  • Comparison with existing statistics on agriculture in the province as provided by Statistics SA.
  • An estimation of the hectares of current agricultural land and land lost to agriculture through mining, urbanisation and conservation.
  • Define all irrigated land through air survey supported by remote sensing time-series analysis over five years archived NDVI data.
  • Mapping of agricultural and agro-processing infrastructure such as: Pack houses
  • Cool chain facilities
  • Abattoirs
  • Dairies
  • Chicken batteries
  • Tunnels
  • Dip tanks
  • Feedlots
  • Agritourism facilities
  • Map the status quo of land reform

Internally the data will furnish baseline data to a number of the Department's own information systems,(e.g. the Agricultural InformationManagementSystem,(AIMS)while the project will also address the needs of a wide range of stakeholders, not only in agriculture, but across other departments as well. The survey will provide a benchmark against which future changes (e.g. due to climate change, economics, land reform and urbanisation) can be measured, and should ideally be re-visited and updated every five years.

The project will also play a critical role in a forthcoming national project to define high potential and unique agricultural land, in order to protect it from development in accordance with new land use planning laws.

FROM THE CEO DESK 8 November 2010  

We at SiQ have been extremely blessed during the past year and have managed to date to rise above the current economic conditions. What is truly important to me in this regard is the fact that we have not been forced to reduce our staff count and have managed to keep all our personnel on board.This has not been the case with the majority of organisations out there and recently even one of our major banks is in the process of retrenching some 2200 of their current staff.

It is in times like these that you really need to take a step back and look at your business from the “outside”. You need to ask questions such as; “What am I busy with?”, “What is the bigger picture here?”“What is happening to the industry that I am working in and how will it impact me?” Luckily I love asking these questions and the process of seeking the answers to these questions. A couple of things that stand out in times likethese are:

  • The importance of your relationship with your clients. I do not believe that in business it is all about who you know, but rather about what is your relationship like with the people that you do business with – huge difference there.

  • How much value do you truly add to your clients business? If it is not a great deal of value your services will be the first to be scaled down during times of economic recession. I realised that we truly make a difference to our clients businesses.

By no means can we say that we have weathered the storm as I am of the opinion that the storm has not passed. A wise man once wrote that during these difficult times it is important “to keep on keeping on” and that is exactly what we will be doing.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank our staff for their continuous commitment to the company, our clients for their continuous support and also our business partners for adding value to our business.

 Kind Regards,

Eugene du Preez


SiQ, as part of the National Crop Statistics Consortium (NCSC), was nominated as finalists for the National Science and Technology Forum (NSTF) Awards that was held at Emperors’ Palace on the 26th of May 2009. 

The National Science and Technology Forum is the largest and most prominent multi-stakeholder representative forum for all science, engineering, technology and innovation (SETI) organisations in South Africa, which seeks to influence policy formulation and delivery. The NSTF was established in 1995, and has a proud history of involvement with SETI policy issues and the promotion of discussion about SETI matters.

The NSTF Awards are unique in South Africa and the flagship project of the NSTF, also referred to as the ‘Oscars’ of SETI. The NSTF awards encourage and rewards excellence in Scientific Research, Technological Innovation, Education, Capacity Building, and Science Communication and therefore afford the opportunity for recognition on a national level to all practising scientists, engineers and technologists across the system of innovation.

From left: Fanie Ferreira (GTI), Eugene du Preez (SiQ), Terry Newby (ARC)


 For the development of our unique grain crop estimation system (including PICES) the NCSC was nominated in Category E (Research for innovation by a team or individual in a SMME). Although we were not given the award it was still a great privilege to be nominated as one of the finalist and to attend such a prestigious event with our partners, GTI and the Agricultural Research Council (ARC). We would like to congratulate all the winners and wish them the best of luck with their future innovation.