Crookes Brothers continually strive to have the Group established and recognised as a benchmark for good farming practice. The Group’s management practices are based on farming guidelines for deciduous fruit and bananas, advocated by the Global Good Agricultural Practices (“GAP”) system and the Sustainable Sugarcane Farm Management System (“SUSFARMS”) system initiated by the South African Sugar Research Institute.
The deciduous farms also follow the Farm to Fork strategy and Sustainable Agriculture in South Africa (“SIZA”). Farm to Fork comprehensively addresses the challenges of sustainable food systems and recognises the inextricable links between healthy people, healthy societies and a healthy planet. SIZA, has been formed to assist growers in evaluating their current compliance and environmental risks.
Conservation of flora and fauna
In order to promote the establishment of indigenous plant species, bush lines, riparian zones, undeveloped and non-arable areas are excluded from production and are kept free of invader species. Weeds and invader species, categorised according to the Conservation of Agricultural Resources Act, 1983 are identified and systematically eradicated, in conjunction with the rehabilitation of indigenous plant species.
At Renishaw, Crookes Brothers partnered with the Department of Environmental Affairs and entered into the Working for Water Programme which targets invasive alien plants in riparian zones and wetlands.
Conservation farming is primarily aimed at improving soil health. Some of the specific techniques employed are:
- Following the uprooting of an old crop or orchard, a fallow period ensues, prior to replanting with the same material. Green manure (fallow) crops are planted to enhance soil health and fertility.
- Crop rotation is encouraged where feasible, providing various nutrients to the soil, lessening of pathogen build-up and pests, which frequently occur when one species is continuously cropped.
- Soil analysis is performed to determine the chemical condition of the soil and the quantity and type of ameliorants required;
- Where possible, green cane harvesting is implemented on the sugar cane estates.
A constant project of the Group is a reduction in electricity consumption and associated electricity costs. Low-energy pumps, variable speed drives, optimisation of irrigation systems, use of heat pumps instead of geysers and use of off-peak tariffs currently contribute to reduce consumption and costs.
Energy management consultants were engaged to address the specific need for technology-driven energy efficient solutions and the implementation of best practices. Estates with high electricity usage have been identified and assessed with an aim to optimising energy consumption. Crookes Plantations in Eswatini was identified for the installation of a Pilot Solar Energy Plant. Crookes Brothers intends to install solar energy plants at other appropriate and commercially feasible areas within the Group.