Confronting Climate Change launches new Carbon Heroes label and website 

Confronting Climate Change (CCC) is proud to announce that we have launched a new carbon footprint label and website where our B-graded license holders are recognised for meticulously calculating their carbon footprint. They are the Carbon Heroes of the South African Wine and Fruit Industry! Visit to view our first batch of Carbon Heroes. […]

Grape Compass fungal disease forecasting application now available in Afrikaans

Grape Compass, which is a smartphone decision support application for viticulturalists and grape growers, is now available in Afrikaans. It makes reliable forecasts of fungal disease risks in vineyards, thereby enabling precisely timed and targeted spraying to control powdery mildew, downy mildew and botrytis. It is very easy to use, does not require a weather […]

A FruitLook User Case Study with Klipfontein

We recently interviewed Franco Isaacs from Klipfontein farm on his experience with FruitLook. Franco gave us some great insights on how he uses FruitLook in his decision making process and the various ways it has benefitted him. See a one-page summary of their feedback below. To read the full case study document, please CLICK HERE

Pixofarm Update: now available for citrus fruit and pears!

We are excited to announce that Pixofarm, an application used for fruit size measurement, counting and forecasting, is now available for use on citrus and pears. Pear and citrus growers can test the Sizing and Counting functions in a beta version for free this season! In addition to new fruit types, more updates to Pixofarm […]

Certification Schemes – A Guide But Not A Solution

Written by Claire Bolus. With consumers becoming more aware of producer practices and product origins, companies realise the need to showcase their efforts towards creating a more sustainable future. By adhering to certain criteria, companies can receive public acknowledgement for their effort. This recognition criterion translates into different certification schemes. 

Introducing Grape Compass: A new easy-to-use fungal disease forecasting system

Effective control of grape fungal diseases such as powdery mildew, downy mildew, and botrytis is critical to profitable table and wine grape production. Given the high stakes for farmers, controlling these diseases typically relies on fixed preventative spraying that comes at a significant cost to the business as well as the environment. The ability to […]

Want to know more about Pixofarm?

Upcoming webinar: “How to digitize your fruit growing operations”  28th September 2021 Pixofarm is a downloadable application designed to enable the accurate measurement of apples during the fruit growth phases and to consolidate and report this information to apple producers for the purposes of determining more accurately thinning requirements, yield estimates, fruit-size class distribution, etc.   […]

Heronbrook Farm Winter Update

Winter at Heronbrook, located on the foothills of the Simonsberg mountain, is more often than not a very wet and cold place, so much so that large areas become waterlogged for many days at a time. However, careful observation has provided insight into the underground channels of water that move through the farm. Which will […]

A FruitLook User Case Study with Meijer’s Rust

We recently interviewed Barry Meijer at Meijer’s Rust on his experience with FruitLook. Barry gave us some great insights on how he uses FruitLook in his regenerative way of farming. See a one-page summary of their feedback below.

Water Stewardship Case Study with TFFG and Waterford Farm

As part of Worldwide Fruit’s Water Stewardship programme, Blue North is writing up a number of case studies on Worldwide Fruit’s key growers and where they are in terms of water stewardship in their main catchments. The aim of these case studies is to raise awareness on water challenges, but also to showcase sustainability strategies […]

How can Leaf Area Index be used to improve your farming?

Leaf Area Index parameter in FruitLook – what is it? how does it work, and how can you use it to improve your farming? Please click the picture below to find out.

Water Stewardship Case Study with Morgenzon Farm

As part of Worldwide Fruit’s Water Stewardship programme, Blue North is writing up a number of case studies on Worldwide Fruit’s key growers and where they are in terms of water stewardship in their main catchments. The aim of these case studies is to raise awareness on water challenges, but also to showcase sustainability strategies that South African […]

Accessible AgTech for South African Growers – Online Webinar

5th August 2021 | 15:00 – 16:00 Blue North Sustainability, Hortec and Farmable would like to invite you to a joint webinar focused on the latest accessible technology solutions specifically for South African fruit growers.   Webinar topics: How weather information can help you make critical decisions – by iLeaf / Hortec FruitLook: Supporting Producers […]

Water Stewardship Case Study with Cerasus Farming

As part of Worldwide Fruit’s Water Stewardship programme, Blue North is writing up a number of case studies on Worldwide Fruit’s key growers and where they are in terms of water stewardship in their main catchments. The aim of these case studies is to raise awareness on water challenges, but also to showcase sustainability strategies that South African […]

Pixofarm: A great tool for apple producers

What is Pixofarm? Pixofarm is an application designed to enable the accurate measurement of apples during the fruit growth phases and to consolidate and report this information to apple producers. This information is used to determine more accurate thinning requirements, yield estimates, fruit-size class distribution, etc.

What is nitrogen (N) and how do we use it?

Nitrogen is one of the primary nutritional elements that are essential for growth. With FruitLook’s two nitrogen data parameters, we can monitor that essential mineral.

Water Stewardship Case Study with Dreem Fruit

As part of Worldwide Fruit’s Water Stewardship programme, Blue North is writing up a number of case studies on Worldwide Fruit’s key growers and where they are in terms of water stewardship in their main catchments. The aim of these case studies is to raise awareness on water challenges, but also to showcase sustainability strategies that South African […]

A FruitLook User Case Study with Latjeskloof

We recently interviewed Alan Hall at Latjeskloof on his experience with FruitLook. Alan gave us some great insights on how he uses FruitLook in his decision making process and the various ways it has benefitted him, specifically by improving water use efficiency and production of his citrus blocks over the years. See a one-page summary […]

Pome and Stone Fruit Industry Short Course

17-19 & 24-26 August 2021 Prophyta is offering a six-day short course designed to provide an understanding of the horticultural processes of tree growth and development, scientific irrigation management, nutrition and the execution of good soil health and soil science practices. 

Water Stewardship Case Study with De Keur

As part of Worldwide Fruit’s Water Stewardship programme, Blue North is writing up a number of case studies on Worldwide Fruit’s key growers and where they are in terms of water stewardship in their key catchments. The aim of these case studies is to raise awareness on water challenges, but also to showcase sustainability strategies that South African […]

Water Stewardship Case Study with Boomerang Fruits

As part of Worldwide Fruit’s Water Stewardship programme, Blue North will be writing up a number of case studies on Worldwide Fruit’s key growers and where they are in terms of water stewardship in their key catchments. The aim of these case studies is to raise awareness of the challenges that South African growers deal with on a daily basis. […]

A FruitLook User Case Study with De Rust

We recently interviewed Karin Cluver at De Rust on their experience with FruitLook. Karin gave us some great insights on their sustainable farming philosophy and how they have incorporated FruitLook in their management practices. See a one-page summary of their feedback below.

An Innovative and Regenerative collaboration with Heronbrook Farm

Blue North Sustainability has teamed up with Heronbrook farm, a 7-hectare piece of land on the foothills of the majestic Simonsberg Mountain abutting the orchards of Boschendal with awe-inspiring mountain views, to co-create a profitable and uncompromisingly regenerative small scale farm.

FruitLook Case Study: Bein Private Cellar

We recently interviewed Luca Bein from Bein Private Cellar on their journey and experience with using FruitLook. Please see the case study that we have compiled below!

FruitLook 2021 March: How does satellite data work?

Satellites can help us gain more information on our crop than is visible to the eye. Calculations made with multiple light spectrums can show us vegetation properties and teach us about the state of crops. But what is the light spectrum? Light spectrum: The light which our eyes – our “remote sensors” – can detect […]

Reflections on the EU Green Deal, Brexit, and the US rejoining the Paris Agreement

The South African exports of fruit, wine and other agricultural commodities to the EU are a significant contributor to the economy, both in relation to GDP produced and employment provided, and the trade relationships between South Africa and the European Union as a regional bloc are both longstanding and extensive. South Africa now faces uncertainty due to the recent exit […]

FruitLook wants to hear your stories!

FruitLook has been going for 11 years this season and we want to hear from our users! Has FruitLook helped you become more aware of your irrigation management and approach? Has the platform made an impact on your operations? How so? How do you use FruitLook?

The SHERPA Sustainability Management System

Are you tired of the effort and cost of managing multiple standards and feeling like you are constantly having to jump through hoops when it comes to sustainability? We believe that a sustainability strategy can only deliver real value when it is developed “by the business, for the business”. This means it needs to be […]

Case studies into a journey with Sherpa!

We recently interviewed key Sherpa users on their journey and experience with using Sherpa. We received extensive feedback and answers to common questions asked.  W

Regenerative agriculture mindset shift.

Mindset… A Key Component of Regenerative Agriculture

The biggest change in moving from conventional agriculture to regenerative agriculture is a shift in the understanding the farmer’s role in relation to nature. Regenerative agriculture seeks to work with nature, for example, in terms of supply of nutrients and suppression of pests and diseases. Regenerative agriculture involves the farmer taking their hands off the […]

Impact Investing in Regenerative Agriculture

A new investing attitude has started to pick up momentum in recent years. No longer are individuals seeking purely financial returns on their investments; environmental and social impacts are playing an increasing role in influencing where investors place their money. This type of investing – which takes into account non-financial factors – was coined “impact […]

FruitLook Survey, Webinars and Tutorial Videos

Win a R1000 Takealot voucher We would like to remind you that only four days are left for you to complete our survey and stand a chance to win one of three R1000 vouchers to be used on We urge you to complete this survey as it is really important for us to better […]

Sustainable Fish – 5 Things You Should Know Before Buying

Where does our fish come from? Why does it matter? How does this knowledge translate to action? The vast majority of consumers are out of touch with the origin of the fish they eat, how it was caught and whether it is endangered or not. There are many people who depend on a healthy fishing […]

Wine farms and cellars – this workshop is for you!

Registration details for the Confronting Climate Change Light Carbon Footprint workshop! We are very excited to host you soon! When: 10 June 2020 Time: 9:30-11:30 Which platform: Zoom Cost: Free of charge!

FruitLook Launches YouTube Channel and Video Series

We are proud to announce that we are launching our FruitLook Youtube channel where we will regularly post a series of short videos to help you use the program easier and more effectively. Make sure you like and subscribe to be notified when our videos get posted. Click below for the first video of the […]

We Need to Take a Stand for the Environment – Here’s Why

I recently watched an insightful, witty lecture by George Monbiot on ‘The Pricing of Everything’ in which he argued against the monetisation of nature (the process of valuing and attaching a price to components of the environment). The essence of his argument is summed up as follows: The prices placed on nature are nonsense in […]

COVID-19: A lesson in resilience. What the current pandemic is teaching us about what matters most for socio-economic and ecological strength.

With the influx of the coronavirus, we have experienced the depression of much economic activity both within and between countries. The extent of the knock-on effects is yet to be realised, but some estimate that South Africa will face a loss of 1 million jobs . South Africa faces a number of internal and external […]

Do healthy food systems = healthy diets? What regenerative agriculture can teach us about diet

The past ten years have seen veganism go from an unknown concept to a prevalent household term. In the UK alone, the number of “vegans” has increased four-fold from 2014 to 2020.1 The environmentally-detrimental effects of certain agricultural activities have resulted in the conscious cultural movement towards “plant-based” diets, based on the belief that production of […]

An update from Blue North on our response to the Covid-19 pandemic

The COVID-19 pandemic has affected us all, upending the engines of commerce, closing schools and some businesses, and disrupting the rhythms of our daily lives. As all of us adjust to this global crisis, we wanted to assure you that Blue North will continue to operate and support you through this time with information, our […]

Limits…the baby in the bathwater?

One just has to reflect on the anxiety evoked by the word “recession” to confirm how strongly we associate the concepts of “growth” with our collective and individual well-being. Understandably then, anything that seeks to limit growth is, almost by default, resisted. Sustainability, when honestly and correctly framed, lays bare the inherent conflict between our […]

Blue North Present at Carbon Footprint Information Day

Blue North recently presented at the Carbon Footprint Information Days in collaboration with Grain SA and the Winter Cereal Trust. Two separate day-long workshops were held in the Swartland and Overberg. During these workshops we met with winter grain farmers and stakeholders to share knowledge on carbon emissions and to demonstrate an excel tool developed […]

Blue North Present at SA Berry Producers’ Association Annual General Meeting

On Friday 22 November 2019 Blue North Sustainability COO, Eddie Vienings, presented a talk at the SA Berry Producers’ Association’s (SABPA) annual general meeting on sustainability trends in agricultural supply chains. This presentation focused on the development of the sustainability agenda, how this is driven in agricultural supply chains, and how growers can manage these […]

Blue North Present at Subtropical Fruit Grower’s Association Marketing Symposium

David Farrell was recently asked to speak at the Subtropical Fruit Grower’s Association Marketing Symposium on the implications of the recently implemented Carbon Tax and related matters. In the talk David looked at the history behind the implementation of the tax, different carbon tax pricing scenarios and highlighted the other factors that, with or without […]

Blue North appointed as in-country implementation partner for the FruitLook Initiative.

We are excited to announce that Blue North has been appointed by the Dutch Satellite solutions company eLEAF BV, as their in-country implementation partner for the FruitLook Initiative for the 2019/20 project year.  eLEAF provides satellite based data and applications for agriculture and water management to a global client base. eLEAF has been active in […]

Why Calculate your Carbon Footprint?

You can’t manage what you don’t measure” – Peter Drucker It is a well-known adage in business that “you can’t manage what you don’t measure”. While it would be an oversimplification to assume that a business can be run on visible figures alone, the development of metrics or quantified performance indicators are integral in understanding […]

A Boschendal case study: How does your choice of trellising system affect your carbon footprint?

Increasing global understanding of the impact and effects of climate change has seen increasing emphasis and pressure on reducing carbon emissions across the supply chain. However, when it comes to agriculture it is not always easy to implement the necessary changes due to various factors such as cost barriers, and a lack of understanding about where […]

Carbon Emissions and Agriculture: How should we be thinking about the carbon tax?

The past few years have seen a significant shift in the way that governments are responding to the climate crisis. The introduction of carbon pricing mechanisms has seen particular momentum. In essence, carbon pricing works by putting a price on carbon emissions with the aim of bringing down emissions, driving investment into clean technology and fueling low-carbon economic […]

A shift in the strategic landscape for agricultural export supply chains

There have recently been a few events that are creating a major shift in the strategic landscape of agricultural export supply chains. They involve, amongst else, angry school children, political changes, a change in language and a few scientific reports. Let’s start with the science. The United Nations (UN) recently released their fifth Global Assessment […]

The Confronting Climate Change Initiative

The Confronting Climate Change initiative was developed to support South African fruit and wine farmers, it is a carbon foot printing project that identifies the risks and opportunities associated with carbon emissions…

Carbon emissions of grain farming in the Western Cape

Grain SA initiated the Carbon Footprint project, with Phase 1 aiming to calculate and compare the greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions of different farming systems in the winter grain region in the Western Cape.  An increase of GHGs in the atmosphere traps the sun’s radiation or energy directly leading to an increase in the earth’s temperature […]

Theory of Change in Agricultural and Rural Development Interventions

The Theory of Change is a central concept in the evaluation field, which we have recently used in two programme evaluations for the Department of Agriculture in The Western Cape. What exactly does it refer to, and how can it be used to improve how a programme or project is working? The thinking around a […]

Virtuous Engagement Loops – An approach to move beyond certification.

We are of the firm conviction that real change only becomes possible when it happens in an “inside-out”, or, when thinking in terms of dynamics in supply-chains, in a “bottom-up” manner. Our SHERPA Management System is specifically and purposefully designed to encourage, support and enable this type of change process. The more decision makers on […]

A First Introduction to SHERPA

I’ve been in some very tough meetings with farmers over the years. The most difficult ones were inevitably those where, in our wisdom, and in an attempt to be efficient in introducing a new concept or idea, we felt it best to convene a large group of farmers in one room; not always the best […]

Harvesting ‘Knowledge’ with Podcasts

Have you come across the word ‘podcast’? There is a growing trend of people listening to podcasts, but if you are not among this trend you might be wondering, what exactly is a podcast and why should you bother? A podcast is a digital audio file you can download from the internet. You can download […]

Conservation Agriculture: A Focus on the Grains Industry

What is conservation agriculture? How is it important for both industry and individual farmers? To answer these questions and better understand the importance of conservation agriculture within the grains industry, we spoke to Dr Hendrik Smith, the Conservation Agriculture Facilitator for Grain SA.  What is conservation agriculture in the grains industry and why is it important? […]

What Makes a Good Farmer?

What are the attributes of a really good farmer? Would they include a penchant for order and neatness? A single-minded focus on efficiency and yield maximization? A bullet-proof resolve in the face of risk? What about drive for expansion and scale or technical proficiency? While some or all of these may currently inform our rating […]

Case Study: Reducing Carbon Emissions on Farms with Improved Water Management

For water-scarce countries like South Africa, irrigation is critical, and with the majority of electricity being carbon emission intense, irrigation is an important contributor to a farm’s carbon footprint. Indeed, according to Confronting Climate Change industry benchmark reports, electricity consumption for irrigation is the largest source of farm-level carbon emissions. Therefore, improving water management on farms […]

Carbon Tax

Review of the 2017 Second Carbon Tax Draft Bill

The Second Draft Carbon Tax Bill (National Treasury, 2017) was published on 15 December 2017 following an extensive consultative process around the First Carbon Tax Bill (National Treasury, 2015). It is expected that the Revised Second Draft Carbon Tax Bill will be tabled in parliament in mid-2018, following the due consultative processes. Whilst the core […]


Understanding agricultural, natural resource management and rural development interventions.

Blue North is increasingly involved in undertaking various types of program and project evaluations within the agricultural, natural resource management and rural development space. But just where does the need for understanding project impact and performance stem from? Although many programs are obliged to undertake evaluations at different stages of project design, implementation and upon […]

Why is climate neutrality important?

Driven by the emission of greenhouse gases (GHGs) through anthropogenic (human) activities, the planet’s climate is changing. To limit the impact of a changing climate on the planet’s future, global GHG emissions need to be reduced as much as possible. This is a global challenge, to which we all need to contribute! Carbon, or climate […]

Science Based Climate Targets

Calculating and understanding your carbon footprint has become generally accepted practice.  Organisations use carbon footprinting to identify greenhouse gas hotspots, understand the use of expensive inputs like diesel, electricity and fertilisers and to communicate their sustainability credentials. Once you know and understand your carbon footprint you can set targets to reduce it.  Unfortunately few businesses […]

Understanding and addressing the carbon emission hotspots within your supply chain.

To effectively realise and respond to the opportunities and challenges posed by climate change the Confronting Climate Change (CCC) Project was started in 2009 as a strategic cross-industry initiative aimed at supporting the South African fruit and wine sectors’ efforts. Besides provision of a freely available on-line carbon emissions calculator, the CCC initiative promotes technical […]

Which carbon emissions calculator to use for my agri-business?

In South Africa and globally there is increasing pressure from retailers and consumers for the disclosure of the embodied carbon of the products that they purchase.  It is important for South African fruit and wine producers to comply with the market requirements to ensure market retention.  It is furthermore important to measure and manage your […]

How to reduce your carbon emissions: Practical case-studies

Confronting Climate Change has for a number of years provided a freely available carbon calculator tool.  Apart from supporting the fruit-and wine industries of South Africa with the use of the tool through training opportunities and direct support, we would also like to assist the users of the tool to move forward from the measurement […]

Agribusinesses: Where do we stand with future Water Legislation?

The Western Cape, and South Africa, is in the midst of the worst drought in a long, long time. With much less to go around, responses have included increased monitoring, demand management, and the imposition of restrictions. Still we are far off the mark with an incredibly tough summer ahead. But with increasing variability in […]

Drones and Agriculture 101

A new “buzz” word in agriculture is “drones” (pun intended). But what are they and how do they actually work?  Most importantly, how can they help me, the farmer? A drone is an unmanned aircraft, also known as an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV)1. If you like a bit of drama you can refer to them […]

Smallholder farmers and their participation in global value chains

Recent estimates suggest that there are more than 570 million farms in the world. Of these, more than 475 million are smaller than 2ha, commonly referred to as smallholdings. Even though these smallholder farms only utilise approximately 12% of global agricultural land, smallholder farms are estimated to directly and indirectly support a population of more […]


Managing your farm with Fruitlook

We all know South African farmers operate within a challenging environment, where the short and long-term viability of an operation entails picking a path through a multitude of production pressures. Some of these include rising input costs; competition for scarce water resources; and the challenges associated with a changing climate. Fruitlook, an online remote-sensing platform, […]

Tree hog

Louis Loubser’s ‘Tree Hog’

Earlier this month I visited Louis Loubser’s farm just outside of Robertson in the Breede Valley. Louis is the man behind the ‘Tree Hog’ – a simple, but extremely effective invention that can bring about considerable reductions in on-farm water and energy use!

Management intensive grazing

The Passion behind ‘Farmer Angus’

Angus McIntosh – the previous London-based finance professional turned livestock farmer. Not a ‘gewone’ farmer, but a razor sharp and enthusiastic farmer that has steadfastly plotted his course against the grain of convention. For those of you that don’t know, Angus is the man behind Spier’s pasture-raised livestock and the ‘Farmer Angus’ name.  


Agroecology – the who’s who

What is agroecology? Agroecology is defined as “the application of ecological concepts to the design and management of sustainable agro-ecosystems” (Silici, 2014). The principles of agroecology are increasingly gaining traction as a means to building agri system sustainability and resilience, reducing dependence on costly chemical inputs, and building productivity at the farm level through the […]

JD Kirsten's recycling collection igloos

JDK’s interesting household recycling initiative!

Arguably the most important step to driving any environmental initiative is to change behaviour. As with recycling, it is simply difficult to increase recycling rates without increasing  the rate at which recyclables are collected at both the household and company levels, requiring a change in behaviour by both you and I. JD Kirsten, realising the […]

Nudging the way to change

‘Nudging’ the way to change

Having recently read the book ‘Nudge’ by Richard Thaler and Cass Sunstein, I became intrigued by the potential for ‘nudge’ solutions to environmental challenges, some of which are described in the book.

SA's Carbon Tax

SA’s draft carbon tax legislation and carbon offset regulations: How will it work?

Subsequent to the ratification of the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement, we need to prepare to operate in a carbon constrained economy over the medium to long term. This was emphasised by National Treasury in a press release on the 10th of November 2016. A business as usual scenario is no longer an option.

Management intensive grazing

What meat should I be eating?

Informed consumers globally would doubtlessly have asked themselves this question at some stage. Meat and dairy production invariably top the list of production systems when discussing environmental hotspots of agriculture. When dealing with sustainability and livestock, a discussion of whether we should eat meat or not, and if we do which type, is inescapable.

Analysis of Western Cape dam levels

Western Cape dam levels: 15% by April 2017?

Since the winter of 2014, the Western Cape region has been in the midst of a significant and worsening drought. The winter rains of 2015 and 2016 have done little to offer relief, and as of the beginning of November 2016, the City of Cape Town entered into Level 3 Water Restrictions, and the agricultural […]

IT for Agri

IT for Agri – The top apps around

There are a number of freely available mobile and web-based apps that are particularly useful to those operating in South Africa’s agricultural sector. If you haven’t used one of these apps already, we suggest you take a look!

A quick look at the historic Paris Climate Deal that will enter into force on the 4th of November 2016

The Paris Agreement sends a powerful signal that the world is finally committed to a low-carbon future, and it promises to unleash investment and innovation in clean energy on an unprecedented scale.

Aquaculture environmental impacts

Where – and how – was my fish grown?

Chances are you will need to ask this question more and more. Historically, capture fisheries (fish caught in the wild) have been the most prominent source of traded fish. However, capture fisheries volumes have levelled off in the past decade and aquaculture (the breeding, rearing, and harvesting of plants and animals in all types of […]

A Fresh Look for Confronting Climate Change!

The Confronting Climate Change team is very excited to share their updated website and calculator tool with you. Please do visit the new site HERE and start entering your data on the online calculator tool and let us know whether you find it user-friendly.

What are a Business’s Social Dependencies and Impacts?

In my last post, which you can access here, I examined the throughput of energy and materials that is at the heart of every business (the dark blue horizontal arrow) and the flows from, and to, the environment that must be sustained if the business is to achieve the strategic objective of sustaining “economically viable […]

Odds stacked against SA beekeeping

The odds stacked against SA’s beekeepers

In South Africa, honeybees and their pollination services contribute an estimated R16 billion to the national GDP, of which approximately R10 billion is generated in the Western Cape (Engineering News 2015). With the changing profile of deciduous fruits, increases in vegetable production; and large increases in vegetable seed production and expansion of macadamia nut plantations, […]

SA's Carbon Tax

UPDATE: SA’s Carbon Tax & Offsetting Developments

Since the Draft Carbon Tax Bill was released in November 2015 (see our carbon tax news item  of 11 April 2016), National Treasury has held various stakeholder engagements. Although various issues are now clearer, a number of issues are still being finalised. The next draft Carbon Tax Bill is expected by late August or September this year.  […]

Brexit: South African Agriculture

SA’s Agri Exports: Understanding Brexit

On the 24th of June, 2016, David Cameron announced the surprising results of the UK’s Brexit referendum – the scales were tipped towards leaving the EU, sending global markets into turmoil. The GBP dropped to a 31-year low against the USD, and USD2 trillion were wiped off global markets. The rand slipped by 8% against […]

Water Footprint

Water Footprint: Stone Fruit Project

In my post in April this year, I outlined the two different Water Footprint guidance standards, and explained the blue, green and grey water footprint components. Based on the Water Footprint Network’s (WFN) guidance standard, we developed a data collection and calculation tool in order to streamline the water footprint assessment process. These were piloted […]


What is at the heart of every business?

At the center of the Blue North System Map (see below) is the large dark blue arrow running from left to right – it is the cornerstone of our approach to understanding sustainability and making it relevant for businesses. In this post I will examine this element of our system map, how it can be […]

Sustainable Agriculture, diversification and trade-offs

Sustainable agriculture, diversification and trade-offs

There is general consensus that agriculture can meet the expected future food needs of a growing population, however the grand question is how we achieve this by sustainable means?

South Africa’s water – where are we?

Water is arguably South Africa’s most vital and precious natural resource. It is integral to the survival of human life, the functioning of ecological systems, food and energy production, transportation, waste disposal, and industrial development (1–4). But as human populations grow, consumption patterns change, and economies develop, the pressures on natural water resources continue to […]

What’s in a water footprint?

Freshwater resources – the increasing demand for, and increasing uncertainty of availability, have given rise to strong questions around water risks across agricultural value chains. The concept of water footprinting provides an effective platform from which to address and discuss these questions.

GIS Water Risk Assessment Tool

Blue North Sustainability was engaged by a UK importer to develop a GIS-based water risk assessment tool. The main purpose of the tool is to provide a better understanding of the potential water risks faced by South African fruit farmers within their supply chain.

COP21 Oil Refinery - Is it Enough

SA’s Carbon Tax and the Implications for Fruit and Wine Farmers

The Draft Carbon Tax Bill was released for comment during November 2015.  The Confronting Climate Change (CCC) Initiative has received many questions with regards to the bill and has, in response, developed this summary document based on the information at our disposal at the time of writing. 

Confronting Climate Change: Project Update

Blue North manages the “Confronting Climate Change” project (or CCC in short) on behalf of the South African Fruit and Wine industries. This project is now in its 8th year and focuses on supporting South African farmers, packhouses and wineries in calculating their carbon footprint.  Here is a short and sharp update of what 2016 […]

Confronting Climate Change: 2016 Workshop Schedule

There are 3 different types of industry engagements that the Confronting Climate Change project is offering, each with a specific target audience and intended outcome: Technical Workshops; Train-the-Trainer Workshops; and Emerging Farmer Information Sessions. The workshops are presented at a subsidised fee and spaces are limited, therefore booking is essential. Additional workshops can be arranged over […]

Making practical sense of strong sustainability

How do we translate the ideas of Strong Sustainability into concepts that can practically assist and guide business leaders in the running of their businesses?

125 Trillion Reasons!

US$125 trillion per year – that’s US$125 with 12 zero’s! That’s the latest estimate of the global value of ecosystem services that nature provides on an annual basis, estimated by Robert Costanza, a renowned ecological economist, and colleagues. To put this number in perspective, the 2016 global GDP is estimated to reach around US$76 trillion.


Summary: Is Earth recognised as a finite system in corporate responsibility reporting?

An extensive study by a team of Danish researchers (Bjørn et al. (2016)) highlights the failure of Corporate Responsibility (CR) reporting to translate into tangible changes in business strategy. In Blue North’s context, this reinforces the importance of our approach: informed by ‘strong’ sustainability, our work revolves around the acceptance of absolute biophysical limits.

COP21 Oil Refinery - Is it Enough

COP21: Is it enough?

Last year’s climate change conference, COP21, has widely been heralded a success. But the burning question: is it enough?


Development of Sustainability Self-Assessment Tools

Blue North has been commissioned to develop a range of commodity-specific Sustainability self-assessment tools for the UK retailer  J.Sainsbury’s.   The tools, which reflect our experience in supporting farm-level buy-in and engagement in sustainability programs, are designed to serve first and foremost as value-adding management tools for farm owners and managers.


Small-scale mixed farming Carbon Footprint Calculator

The concept of developing a carbon footprint calculator for emerging farmers in the Western Cape is the subject of a Masters research project funded by the Western Cape Department of Agriculture (WC DoA). The purpose of this tool is to firstly create awareness around climate change and the impact on agriculture, and secondly to prepare […]

Confronting Climate Change: Workshop Dates

Confronting Climate Change will be hosting a series of technical Industry Benchmark and Train the Trainer workshops throughout the country over the next few months.

The transition to a low-carbon South African economy: a comparison with a German case-study

As a function of its large mineral reserves, South Africa’s carbon-intensive economy has been driven by resource intensive mineral extraction and petroleum and chemicals processing. These industries have long been supported and incentivized by government through the provision of relatively cheap coal-fired generated electricity, taking advantage of South Africa’s extensive coal reserves (Brent et al., […]

Confronting Climate Change – Latest News

The Confronting Climate Change Initiative (CCC) has completed the 2014 fruit and wine industry carbon emissions benchmark reports. The development of industry benchmarks for the carbon-emissions of each major commodity have been a significant milestone for the CCC project. Against these benchmarks, individual businesses can “sense-check” and evaluate their own results. In this way the […]

Project: SCHIP online supply chain management application

SCHIP is an online application developed exclusively for the Chingford Fruit Limited (Chingfords) supply chain, to provide visibility across their supply chain and streamlined integration with other financial and reporting systems. SCHIP has been developed by Sigma Freight, a UK-based software company that specialises in providing solutions to the freight and logistics industry. The SCHIP […]


New Project: Impact of legislation on the Western Cape agricultural sector

Blue North, working in conjunction with DNA Economics, have been contracted by the Western Cape Department of Agriculture (WC DoA) to assess the agricultural legislative environment in the Western Cape and how conducive this environment is to business.

Carbon Emissions: Where the major global retailers stand

The Confronting Climate Change Initiative (CCC) was launched by the South African wine and fruit sector to enable growers and service providers to manage the risks associated with carbon emissions, relating both to associated environmental impacts and consumer and retailer pressure for emissions accountability. As a result, we were very interested in where the major […]

The South African carbon tax and how it relates to agriculture

The proposed South African carbon tax is outlined in the summary below, followed by a more in-depth breakdown of the tax mechanism and how it relates to agriculture, derived from the Carbon Tax Policy Paper (2013).

Blue North Welcomes New Associates

With the increasing scope of Blue North’s work, we are very pleased to welcome two new associates to the team: Lorren de Kock and Anél Blignaut.

Sustainable Fruit Initiative – Progress Update

Much progress has been made in the development of the Sustainable Fruit Initiative over the last few months. As the Grabouw pilot programme draws to a close, we have begun to engage with commercial farming entities in the Eastern Cape. Here we lay out the structure, processes and insights that have evolved through our engagement […]

Announcement: The Carbon Trust recognises the CCC Carbon Footprinting Tool managed by Blue North.

Blue North is very pleased to announce that the Carbon Trust has recently completed an independent audit of the Carbon Footprinting Tool that forms a key part of the South African Fruit and Wine Industry’s Confronting Climate Change (CCC) Initiative, one of Blue North’s strategic projects in the industry.

Why modern agriculture leads unavoidably to ecological degradation

To the casual observer on a trip through the countryside, the idea that farming inherently degrades the environment may seem counter-intuitive. After all, we escape to the rural parts of the country in order to “return to nature” and experience a gentler and a more environmentally wholesome way of life, particularly when compared to that […]

Sustainable Fruit Initiative – Pilot Programme

WWF-SA is launching a sustainability initiative tailored to the South African fruit sector, and has engaged Blue North Sustainability (Pty) Ltd to assist in its development and implementation. The Sustainable Fruit Initiative (SFI) is focussed on supporting the achievement of environmentally sustainable farming in the fruit industry, and will ultimately become the environmental “pillar” of […]

The evolution of sustainability agendas in global agri supply-chains – David Farrell’s trip to the UK

Visiting the UK and meeting with different people across UK agri supply-chains is always accompanied by discussions around the subject of sustainability – certain concepts and assumptions are affirmed, others challenged, and new perspectives and priorities are brought to the fore. At a minimum, the rapidly evolving and shifting nature of this field is confirmed. […]

Line in the Sand: When will voluntary sustainability strategies form part of business practice?

There is always a line in the sand – that point in time when things change, or a new direction is taken. Much of the work we do at Blue North is related to assisting leading agri-businesses to improve their supply chain efficiencies: making outputs exceed inputs, and reducing waste and environmental impact where possible.

Renewable Energy in the South African Fruit Sector

It is exciting to see the increasing use of renewable energy in the South Africa fruit sector.  With the recent year-on-year increases in the cost of electricity, and further above-inflation increases expected, combined with the massive reduction in the cost of renewable energy solutions, we have now reached the crossover point where renewable energy solutions […]

Blue North Social Media Strategy Launched

Blue North is a South Africa based sustainability consultancy working across the agricultural supply chain, driving the concept of  strong sustainability. We have recently launched a social media strategy. If you are interested in this line of work, and/or would like to follow our work as it progresses please “like” and “follow” our Facebook Page, […]

Sustainable Fruit Supply – where to to focus in developing a sustainability strategy?

These thoughts on the development and implementation of a sustainability strategy in an agricultural supply-chain have been developed in the course of the work Blue North does in the sustainability field.

Energy efficiency and carbon reductions speak the same language

The success of farming is directly linked to levels of productivity. Although productivity and farming are synonymous, the concept of productivity is relevant to any business.

The Ecological Importance of Wetlands

Environmental sustainability at the farm level hinges on the way in which the farm falls within, and interacts with, its surrounding environment. In ecological economics, the farm and its operations are seen as a subset of the environment. The resilience of the farming system is therefore very much dependent on its supporting ecosystems, where these […]

Farm-level Sustainability Measures & Indicators: Assessing Causes or Measuring Effects?

Sustainability “measures and indictors”…or ” scorecards”…or whatever you wish to call the methods and processes to get a quantified grip on the sustainability performance or status of a farm…has become the really big, and rather confused, part of pretty much all sustainable agriculture programs and initiatives. Here are some thoughts on the subject based on […]

Introduction to the Sustainable Fruit Initiative (SFI)

WWF-SA have recently teamed up with Blue North on an exciting project to develop the Sustainable Fruit Initiative (SFI). The SFI is a sustainability initiative tailored to the South African fruit sector, intended to drive and inspire change from conventional farming practices, to those which will hopefully build greater system resilience in the future.

Cool Seal SA




Core Fruit

Confronting Climate Change

Nano Bubble Technologies

Fruit for the Future

From the Chingford Fruit October Publication – South African consultancy Blue North specialises in transforming agricultural supply chains, using its sound knowledge base and proven expertise to deliver practical, long-lasting improvements at ground level   Volatile prices, unpredictable weather patterns and surging demand from emerging economies are combining to threaten food security across the globe, putting farmers under more pressure than […]

Graduate School






University of Cambridge

Confronting Climate Change

Over the past three months I have been totally emerged in the Fruit & Wine industry’s carbon footprinting project called “Confronting Climate Change” or CCC in short (Blue North is the appointed project managers for Phase 2 of this project).  It has been very rewarding to work hard on the envisaged solution for Phase 2 […]

Insights guiding our engagement with Chingford fruit

Chingford Fruit (CFL) is now our largest single client and they have been able to “plug and play” our strengths and capabilities in a very exciting way.   CFL is a large supplier to the Sainsbury’s retail chain (JS) in the UK. They were under pressure from JS to help them deliver products that were […]