Agri Kultuur September / September 2016 - Page 24

Dr Gerhard H Verdoorn, CropLife South Africa N o farm anywhere in the world is paradise. Paradise ended that day when Adam and Eve were banished from the Garden of Eden and had to start fending for themselves. That is also the event that awakened the agronomic spirit in humankind and set us onto a pathway that would develop into one of the most formidable activities in the world namely food and fibre production. In the year 2016 one stands in awe of what commercial farmers produce under huge strain and difficulty in a world where a large percentage of people criticise farmers, yet grow fat on the food stocks they produce. One of the greatest challenges that all farmers face is that of pests, diseases, parasites, weeds and predators. All of these are in direct competition with farmers and if left unmanaged can devastate agricultural production to the point where food and fibre stocks will plummet to nothingness. Very few ever take the Cave painting of Aurochs, horses, and deer at Lascaux France By Prof saxx - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, index.php?curid=2846254 time to sit down and unravel the dilemma of competitive organisms, we simply fight them tooth and nail often to no avail as we have yet to get to grips with their role in the broader ecology. Walking around the trees and shrubs of the savannah, or the fynbos of the Western Cape or the bossieveldt of the Karoo, reveals something very important: all things are in balance. The plants grow in the presence of insects, the animals live with parasites, the soil brings forth its wealth of nutrients while being infested with nematodes and fungi while the game animals sustain themselves in the presence of a collection of predators. So why is it that on a farm there is such a fight between the farmer and competing organisms? The answer is quite simple: it lies in the ecological balance of nature and all things natural. As a species we have succeeded in select- Many varieties of Peruvian maize (corn) were well-known to the Incas for centuries By Jenny Mealing Flickr, CC BY 2.0,