Global demand for food is growing and with this growth comes the pressure to produce more with less. High quality inputs combined with cutting edge technology and regenerative principles are fundamental to the future of agriculture; with smart farming, farmers are able to meet rising demands and challenges.
According to the United Nations, the global population is projected to reach 9.8 billion by 2050. This means that farms will have to increase their yields and enhance crop quality in order to contribute to both food quality and security. An increasing population increases stress on the soils in which we grow our crops. With 40% of the planet’s land being used for agriculture, it is crucial that we foster technologies which promote soil health and biodiversity.
At Gala, the Fund’s macadamia farm in Malawi, sustainable agricultural practices are key to increasing efficiencies, protecting natural resources and reducing emissions.
In order to support Gala’s efforts to implement sustainable practices, SIGNATURE, alongside Gala’s management team and our technical partner Agri Technovation, has established a bulk liquid fertilizer mixing unit at Gala. Using liquid fertilizer will improve accuracy in application as opposed to applying granular fertilizer by hand, when application errors can occur. The use of liquid fertilizer ensures that each tree receives the optimal volume and type of nutrients precisely calibrated for their specific needs, eliminating the risk of over-application and reducing waste and run-off. Over-application by hand can be detrimental for a macadamia tree as it may cause damages such as salt burn, as well as being financially wasteful and resulting in unnecessary, climate-damaging emissions. Precision farming practices prevent such diseases and damages. Overall, with the new fertilizer program, up to five percent cost savings are expected as well as improved quality of nut in shell, higher sound kernel ratio and significantly reduced emissions.
Fertigation is the practice of applying fertilizer through the irrigation system. Via the drip irrigation system, fertilizer is applied at the optimal location near the root system of the macadamia tree. This decreases the amount of fertilizer that would otherwise not be absorbed by the root system and could leak into the groundwater system, potentially causing harm to the surrounding ecosystem.
Applying liquid fertilizer through fertigation requires a less laborious operation in the fields. There is no need to cart heavy fertilizer bags on trailers to each block, thereby taking up labour units, tractors, trailers and extra diesel. It prevents unnecessary driving through orchards and compaction of soils, which can impact both tree and soil health.
Together with Agri Technovation, SIGNATURE Agri plans to design, develop and operate decentralized bulk liquid fertilizer plants across selected African countries including existing and new countries of operation. We are confident that this exciting development will optimize production at reduced cost to investors and to the environment.