Senwes Scenario Junie / Julie 2015 - Page 14

••• KO L LI G MARLON ABRAHAMS ASHLEY WHITFIELD A STEP AHEAD OF THE GAME AFTER ASHLEY INVITES ME TO TAKE A SEAT IN HIS OFFICE BEFORE WE COMMENCE THE INTERVIEW, I EXPECT TO RUN THROUGH MY QUESTIONS QUICKLY, GET UP AFTER, DO A QUICK TOUR OF THE FARM, TAKE SOME PHOTOS AND HEAD BACK TO THE OFFICE. NOT SO FAST MENEERTJIE, WAS PROBABLY WHAT ASHLEY WAS THINKING. BEFORE I EVEN GET TO ASK A QUESTION, HE STARTS TELLING ME ABOUT HIS KELLY DIAMOND HARROW. A nd just who or what is a Kelly Diamond Harrow, I hear you ask. Well for starters there are only two Kelly Diamond Harrow’s in the country, and Ashley owns one of them. Yes but Ashley, what does it do? “It’s like a disc, but it does so much more...Come let me show you,” I get up expecting to go outside to see this contraption. Instead, he guides me to the huge screen of his Apple Mac and opens up a video file. There the KDH reveals itself, this implement “rips out weeds, but does not bury the stalks and it gives you a perfect seed bed”. The fact that Ashley has this machine is indicative of the way he operates...always a few steps ahead of the game. “It did not come cheap, I’ll tell you,” he says. “But, it’s so effective, I’ve been able to hire it out as well and it’ll 12 pay for itself eventually.” Ashley Whitfield is the fourth generation to farm on Belvedere in the Viljoenskoon district. He started farming in 1983, shortly after completing his studies at Cedara Agricultural College. He has bought additional land since 2000. Whitfield has always rented land. He plants his high-potential soils to maize and rotates maize with sunflower on the mediumpotential soils. Whitfield also runs a Bonsmara stud and a commercial Bonsmara herd. His wife and business partner, Jacky, looks after the farm’s finances, administration and assists with the cattle management. The Whitfields believe in meticulous recordkeeping and hands-on management. Their database, built up over the years, is a powerful management tool. I realise quickly that this June/July 2015 • SENWES Scenario KELLY DIAMOND HARROW interview will not go according to plan and that the best way to approach it is to go with the flow and see where Mr Whitfield will lead me. I tell him about the reference made to South African farmers by Len Brand (Managing Director: John Deere), who said that “South African farmers do not realise how good they are, they are performing miracles under the conditions in which they farm.” Len was referring