30 May Shade Net Construction
A few months back we received a very generous donation from a listed plastic group company that manufactures and supplies agricultural netting nationally. Whilst this was such a great gift to receive, it was also totally unexpected from us, and since the arrival of the nets, we have had a big problem on our hands in trying to get the right suppliers to put up the nets for us.
Right from the beginning, just planning on where to store them, what to do with the nets and when to put them up has been very stressful for everyone at the farm. And to add to the stress most specialists in the industry, are busy running projects and doing work outside South Africa and therefore getting a hold of key personnel who are able to come to the farm and assist us with the design for erecting the nets has not been a walk in the park. You might ask yourself why did we not use the very same company that donated the nets to help us with the construction? Well, we tried that avenue and our proposal was turned down, due to limited capacity on their side, however, they did refer us to reputable companies whom they felt would be best to assist us.
Its since been a journey of endless calls, emails, quotes and referrals and we are so grateful for our farmers network that we were able to get great direction from one of our farmer friends who recently completed erecting a hectare (1ha) of shade nets and is now successfully growing their crops under their newly built structure. Also, luck was on our side as our neighbour, Mr Alan Bull, has returned from East Africa and is now back home for good. It so happens that he is not only a farmer but a specialist in agricultural netting and has been consulting in this space for decades. He has been our “go to” person for everything!
With climate change being one of the most spoken about topics in agriculture, its become increasingly important to be open to new ways of farming. Gone are the days where we used to farm the way our ancestors and great grandfathers/mothers used to farm. Production inputs costs are ever increasing (due to various economic factors) and for a farmer to remain competitive and make a profit, using agricultural netting or farming undercover allows for crops to increase yields and reduce the demand for water and labour per hectare.
So, we have six hectares (6ha) of open field that we plan on converting into shade nets within the next three months. Our plan (based on the sketch we received from Mr Alan) is that we will be constructing 3 blocks of two hectares (2ha) each with interconnecting roads in between to help with harvesting and so forth. All our poles will be 3.6m high and CCA treated. The outside ones, which are meant for support and balance will be 9 meters apart and the poles inside will be at 12 meters apart to provide enough room for the tractor to work uninterrupted.
This is a very exciting project for us and we are looking forward to its completion.