News: How are farmers saving water in the Western Cape

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How are farmers saving water in the Western Cape

As Cape Town face their worst drought in years, farmers have been seeking ways to decrease their water usage to contribute to the water-restrictions that have been implemented.


With the help of FruitLook online service, drought-stricken Cape Farmers have managed to improve their water usage by 10%.


So what is FruitLook? It is an online platform that allows a producer to determine how much is needed for a specified amount of growth as well as whether too much water was perhaps used to bring forth a certain amount of growth. The service, which is a creation of Dutch company eLEAF, is provided free of charge to farmers in the region by the Western Cape Department of Agriculture.


According to Ruben Goudriaan, project manager of FruitLook at eLEAF, GrapeLook was the predecessor to FruitLook and ran during the 2010/11 production season. “It was a first attempt at providing satellite monitoring to farmers and only focused on wine and table grapes. From 2011/2012 onward, fruit areas were included in the monitoring system, which was subsequently called FruitLook. This is now the seventh season in a row that the service is available to the agricultural community, meaning six years of data is available, rendering the tool increasingly useful as time goes by.”


In her 2017 state of the province address, Premier Helen Zille stated that the province is looking at innovative farming methods to beat the drought. “The industry is being totally revolutionised, farmers no longer have to estimate how much water their crops need. They can access accurate information on the water needs of their crops, field by field, at any given time through the app. Using only satellite and weather data, we are able to tell farmers how much water their crop used in the previous week, whether the crops experienced any water deficiencies and the actual biomass produced,” she said.