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 growers are implementing.
Vadersgawe Farm is situated in the Warm Bokkeveld region, in the picturesque Ceres Valley, and are renowned for their apples, pears and nectarines. The farm was converted from a 180 hectare wheat only farm to a 60 hectare fruit farming unit. In order to expand their orchards, a large dam was constructed. Vadersgawe also built a big pumphouse on the Titus River to move a lot of water very quickly. This pumping system gave them an advantage during the 2015-2018 drought, as some of their neighbours struggled to pump enough water when it did rain. Ian Versfeld, Managing Director of Vadersgawe Farm, is vice chairman of the Titus River Irrigation Board (IB). Other farmers in the region rely a lot on groundwater for their irrigation needs, so the Titus River IB, in collaboration with WWF, did a hydrocensus and review of the geohydrological conditions in the region. Now, a long-term groundwater monitoring and management initiative have been put in place in the Ceres valley, under leadership of the Titus River IB. When it comes to water saving techniques, the biggest positive change for Vadersgawe Farm was switching from drip irrigation to short range micro sprayers. It doubled their production in the first two years. Another initiative that made a difference for Vadersgawe Farm is when they installed a solar power system that could provide much more power than what they would require for the farm alone. With the cooperation of the local Witzenberg Municipality, the excess electricity is fed back into the grid for use where needed. Vadersgawe’s solar project has increased the available electricity in the area so the whole community now has more electricity available to them.
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