Grower Spotlight / Charl Marais. "This is the Best System I've Ever Used"
Updated: Sep 20, 2022
Charl Marais from Robertson in the Western Cape, South Africa, was born and raised on a farm, with a career that spans over 40 years. "Farming is in my blood, It's way more than a workplace. It's my passion and I'm aspiring to be the best grower I can". he tells South African Territory Manager, Dieter Keller and General Manager, Paul Grobler. "Phytech is by far the best system I've ever used. It really takes the stress and the guessing out of farming".
Charl Marais (left) & Territory Manager, Dieter (right)
This is Charl's transformational story from relying on traditional practices to becoming a digital pioneer. Thank you Charl for sharing your experience and for your kind words
"In the past 20 years, I have used various systems to help me with irrigation scheduling on the farm. 2 years ago I was introduced to Phytech and my first thought was "Can it be any good?" I got in contact with Dieter and he came to our farm to explain to me what Phytech is all about. I started off with three blocks on the farm, and to be honest with you, I realized quickly that this is by far the best system that I've ever used. Personally, precision farming is very critical, especially with the problems we face in the horticulture industry like electricity availability and prices, the cost of fuel and the exorbitant prices of fertilizers.
"The only way we can overcome these challenges is to increase our income. Thus so we need to produce a good crop, and we need to get the size correct. With Phytech you are getting accurate, real-time data that helps you achieve this goal.
A combination of their IoT network of sensors, which include tree-sensors, irrigation sensors and soil moisture probes are is really good, but they also work together as one holistic system. It probably took me about a month or two to understand everything, but now it's easy. With the tree sensors (dendrometers) you know where and when the tree actually needs the water or the fertilizer. This is especially vital as some fertilizers' cost went up by 400% over the past two years".
"It also gives me complete visibility of my hydraulic system. I can see when irrigation starts and stops. I can track the field pressure in the block as well as how long it takes for the water or the fertilizer to reach a certain depth. This is real time decision support solution. You can react to current conditions and trees' needs much quicker to avoid plant stress. In the summer, when there are heat waves, Phytech helps take the pressure off, because you have the confidence that the pump has started, and the orchard is receiving the water as scheduled".
Apart from the water savings, we also managed to save a lot of electricity because we don't over irrigate anymore. All this while getting higher yields, better fruit quality and stronger growth with less stress days.
"I was really amazed by the outcome from our first season, , and we decided to cover our entire farm with Phytech's service this season. Yes, there's a cost to this, but with the outcome and the return on investment is a no brainer. Achieving some of the best quality at is more than enough to pay for the expenses of Phytech. It's a joy to have them on the farm.