In the arid regions of the Matzikama district, irrigation is a prerequisite if you want to farm sustainably. With sweltering temperatures and minimal rain, a farmer cannot risk struggling with unreliable power supply. A solar-powered irrigation system offers a practical solution, and what’s more, it pays for itself in no time.

A handful of farmers outside Vanrhynsdorp have already made the decision to move to solar panels.

“The advantage of these systems is that farmers can irrigate as soon as there is enough sun on the panels,” explains Riaan Vermaak, Irrigation Designer at Agrico Vredendal.

In 2022, one of these farmers, Paul Botha, approached Agrico to kick off five solar power projects. During 2023, another five of the systems were delivered on Paul Botha’s farm. The same year, Agrico also delivered five units at Lambrecht van der Westhuizen’s farm. Furthermore, three existing systems at Gert Basson were converted to a combination of solar power and the national electricity grid.

“In total, we delivered eighteen systems, and their capacity varies. There are motors of 18,5, 22, 30, 37 and 45 kW,” says Riaan.

Steel frames for the solar panels are manufactured at Agrico’s factory in Lichtenburg.

What does the solar system involve?

“The solar power systems can drive both borehole and above-ground pumps,” says Riaan. “In the past I was involved in the design of the irrigation systems. Now the customers have decided to switch existing and new pumps to solar power due to the challenges around load shedding.

“The systems consist of pumps, solar panels, hybrid inverters (VSDs), solar panel frames and filters. We provided it to the customer and he approached an electrician to do the wiring.”

Steel frames for the solar panels are manufactured at Agrico’s factory in Lichtenburg, but farmers are welcome to provide their own frames. Lambrecht and uncle Gert chose to build their own wooden or steel frames, and it works well too!

Agrico purchases the different components of the systems from various suppliers. “We are focused on providing products that maintain a balance between price and quality, and are also compatible with the existing irrigation system,” he says.

With solar technology, it is simple to irrigate in remote areas with limited power supply. It also makes the farmer independent of erratic power supply.

Hybrid systems offer versatility and independence

The projects use WEG hybrid inverters sourced from Brazil, which are ready to use both Eskom power and solar power. In the case where both are connected, the system will draw solar power first. If the solar power is not enough, the system will draw only the required amount from the power supplier.

When only connected to solar panels, it offers the farmer the opportunity to be completely independent of the power supplier. In times of drought, the farmer can irrigate during the day and reduce his loss in the summer. Furthermore, remote areas can also be irrigated.

Agrico looks to the future

“Solar power is the future and our vision at Agrico Vredendal is to expand this type of technology in irrigation,” says Roekie Coetzee, Branch Manager of Agrico in Vredendal.

“Especially when the economy starts to put pressure on, this is the way to go. This is precisely why we have already started forming partnerships in solar energy: so that we can help the farmer to make that conversion as effortless as possible.”

Agrico is also focusing on the future of technology. They are currently looking at universal frames that follow the sun throughout the day. A built-in motor turns the panel’s face towards the sun. It has a wind sensor that automatically lowers the panels when the wind starts to blow too strongly.”

After-sales support is an important point that Agrico also looks at: with solar energy, you must be sure that the supplier can support you when a problem arises. Agrico is also able to assist customers who do not use Agrico irrigation products. “We can meet all requirements, so there is no reason not to turn to us when you want to switch your irrigation to solar power.”

Also, regarding the future of the branch, there are big plans to better exploit the potential in the Vredendal area. “We got together and looked at the future plans of the company. Vredendal has been selected as one of the branches that will soon get an upgrade,” he teases about everything that will soon happen at this branch.

To locate your nearest Agrico branch, visit Contact the Vredendal branch at (+27) 27-213-1538.