JJ van de Velde, a prominent farmer in the Nottingham road area in KwaZulu Natal has recently planted about 90 hectares of Canola seed with one of his 6 row Monosem No Till planters.  JJ has been planting in Nottingham road for just over 15 years. He currently plants about 250 hectares of maize, 180 hectares of soybeans and 90 hectares of potatoes which he cover crops with canola in winter.  JJ has been an avid No till Farmer for quite some time and is a firm believer in soil conservation.

He purchased his first Monosem 6 row No Till planter in 2009 and his second Monosem in 2014 for his maize production. He currently plants all of his Maize, soya beans and Canola with the same two Monosem planters.

Canola refers to a cultivar of either rrapeseedblossom or field mustard. The seeds are used to produce edible oil for human consumption. The word ‘Canola’ was established in Canada in 1978 from the words ‘Canadian oil low acid’ as it was developed and predominantly grown in Canada.

In South Africa Canola is grown as a winter crop and mainly grown in the Western Cape. The Canola seed is very small weighing about 3 to 6 grams per 1000 seeds. Therefore making it very difficult or impossible to plant with most maize planters.

As Canola was not developed naturally in the environment and is manmade it is an expensive seed to plant. Due to the very small seed Canola is conventionally planted with grain planters which have no seed singulation therefore adding to the high cost as one plants with a much higher seed rate per hectare.

With the Monosem maize planter’s ability to accurately singulate and plant a much smaller seed this adds tremendously to cost saving when planting Canola and other fine seeds.  It is believed that you can have up to 50% seed savings by planting with the Monosem compared to using a conventional seed drill.

JJ van de Velde has decided to plant Canola as a winter green manure cover crop for his potatoes. He used one of his two six row Monosem No till planters with a row spacing of 75cm’s. He comfortably managed to plant 25 hectares a day putting down about 3,5 kg’s of seed per hectare. He used a 180 hole plate with a hole size of 1.8mm to put down about 700 000 seeds per hectare at a depth of 1cm.

It took about four days for the Canola plant to surface and was planted in early April. The above pictures were taken less than three weeks after planting.

JJ’s Canola after four months from being planted.

JJ believes Canola is an excellent cover crop for his potato lands as it handles the winter frosts and has a good overall cover preventing the emergence of weeds and other unwanted plant material in the off season. The Canola pin root system is also excellent for keeping structure in high clay soils during the winter months. JJ’s plans for his crop rotation is to follow his potato harvest with canola in winter then soya in the wet season after followed by two seasons of maize and then soya again then back to potato followed by canola in the winter season.

Overall JJ van de Velde has been extremely happy with the performance of his Monosem No till planters with maize and soya and now with canola.