Genade, meaning ‘Grace’ in Afrikaans, is the name of this Northern Cape farming operation, located in the Douglas area and strategically placed alongside the Vaal and Orange River tributaries that transform the seemingly arid land neighbouring its banks into a fertile ‘oasis’.
This is an excellent example of South African farming: factoring in today’s constantly variable weather patterns with an advanced understanding of soil science to yield eight harvests in most calendar years for a range of crops, the main ones being wheat and maize, selling to the contract and open market. Other crops on rotation include potatoes (and seed potatoes), peanuts, pecan nuts, cotton, and seed sunflowers.
Genade harvests the wheat between November and December and, once completed, maize planting begins the next day, which highlights the intensity of the production programme. Genade harvests up to 2 000 tonnes per day when it’s time to bring in this crop.
Due to the dry climatic conditions, irrigation is required 24/7: rainfall trends are unpredictable and insufficient, so the majority of the water needed must be pumped from a farm holding dam, supplied via interconnecting pipelines to approximately 92 pivot installations. Each irrigation pivot covers an area of around 45 hectares (ha), with supply to the dam provided by an approximately 2.5 km pipeline from the river.
Best practice farming has yielded the results with excellent harvests, an achievement that has been recognised by industry body, Grain SA. Their judging panel collectively voted Genade Boerdery as ‘Best Grain Farmer of the Year 2015’, a massive achievement that requires proven examples of sustainable, financial and modern-day agricultural management.
Historically, Genade began thanks to the entrepreneurial vision of its founder, Vickie Bruwer, who entered the farming business in Douglas with a 100 ha acquisition in 1985. Three sons later, all managers in the business, the Douglas operation now scales 4 100 ha, 3 500 ha of which is under irrigation.
Allied operations within Douglas and further afield in the South African region include 13 000 ha of graze land catering for upwards of 800 cattle; beef feedlots; and game farming. Genade also produces lucerne, a percentage of which is exported to countries that include Saudi Arabia, where there is a major demand for quality animal feed.
Tractors, harvesters and sprayers are all equipped with GPS and auto-mapping. This enables the machines to travel along straight line coordinates, in the process reducing wastage in fertilisers and seeds.
Farming with Cat
Within the mechanisation mix, Genade’s Cat machines perform core materials handling and earthmoving roles. The farm currently operates a fleet of Cat TH407C telescopic handlers and Cat 428F backhoe loaders. Optimum plant efficiencies, as for Genade’s agricultural fleet, are achieved by dedicated and trained operators, translating into higher mechanical availabilities and performance output improvements.
Genade acquired its first Cat backhoe, a Cat 422, approximately 10 years ago for deployment on numerous civil engineering tasks that include general earthworks as well as trench excavation and the ensuing installation of underground services, such as pipeline reticulation. These have subsequently been followed by latest generation backhoes.
On the materials handling side of the business, Genade’s Cat TH407C’s are the ultimate multi-task units. “Bruwer finds the Cat TH407C ideal size for farming operations, whether it’s for lifting and transporting fertiliser bags, or loading product consignments, like potatoes, into trucks. Their large-sized tyre also means that they can easily travel across uneven terrain, which is important when it comes to in-field jobs such as lucerne bale loading,” says Gerhard.
The machine is powered by a Cat C4.4 DITAAC engine generating a gross power of 74.5 kW with a maximum torque of 410 Nm at 1 400 rpm. One of the most notable changes on the C-Series is a new four speed powershift transmission. A six speed transmission option is also available on Cat TH407C construction and agricultural specification machines. This increases the top speed from the standard 32 km/h (four speed) to 40 km/h, for longer travel distance requirements.
For materials handling, the TH407C has a rated load capability of 3 700 kg and a maximum lift height of 7.3m. Maximum forward reach is 3 763 mm; whilst load at maximum height and reach is 2 000 kg and 1 500 kg, respectively, which makes the machine highly versatile.
“For agricultural applications, the Cat TH407C is the preferred model,” explains Barloworld Equipment Cat sales professional, Hendrik de Wet, based at the company’s Kimberley depot, adding that machine response times are best in class.
“Raising the boom up and down takes around 7.6 and 5.9 seconds, respectively.” (Barloworld Equipment is the Cat dealer for southern Africa.)
Drawbar pull is 78 kN, and bucket and boom breakout forces are 65 kN and 42 kN respectively.
“Our Cat units play indispensable roles in our farming operations and we work them hard as we progressively grow our business model to meet increasing crop yield targets,” adds Gerhard.
Genade has enjoyed steadily improving outputs year-on-year. In the 2013 period, for example, the maize output was around 15.7 tonnes per ha, increasing to 16.1 tonnes in 2014. A similar upward trend is expected for the 2015 maize crop when harvested during 2016.