Our Young Farmers are the leaders in South Africa’s future agricultural environment, and the theme of this year’s TLU SA Young Farmer Conference was one that creates hope and shows our young farmers the way forward in farming for the future.

The TLU SA 2024 Young Farmer Conference took place again this year on 15 March at the iconic Voortrekker Monument, where speakers included Irmarie Taljaard from PICRSA, Madeleine Ackermann from LWO, Christian Zimelka from Zedworks, and GP van Rheede van Oudtshoorn.

The conference highlighted innovative strategies for sustainable farming practices and the embrace of technological advancements to foster agricultural growth.

One of the focal points of the conference was the use of selection technology in pig farming. Taljaard, an expert in the field, delved into the latest advancements in genetic selection methods, highlighting the precision breeding of pig genetics for improved productivity and sustainability.

The transformative role of Artificial Intelligences (AI) in agriculture was another key topic. Attendees gained insights into how AI-driven solutions are revolutionising various aspects of farming, from crop monitoring and yield prediction to precision farming techniques.

The conference also emphasised the importance of progressive approaches in addressing the changing agricultural landscape. van Rheede van Oudtshoorn provided actionable strategies for young farmers to adapt to changing markets, embrace innovation, and foster resilience in the face of challenges.

“The Young Farmer Conference serves as a platform for emerging agricultural leaders to exchange ideas, gain valuable insights, and aim for a more sustainable and prosperous future,” said Clemens Senekal, chairman of TLU SA’s Young Farmer Committee.

“By harnessing the power of technology and innovation, we can cultivate resilient farming practices that meet the demands of the future,” said Henry Geldenhuys, president of TLU SA, following the conclusion of the conference.

Agri Skills Transfer, in collaboration with TLU SA, also launched the Young Farmer of the Year Scholarship Competition for 2024. This competition provides an exceptional opportunity for young farmers to voice their opinions on the future of farming in South Africa. The competition offers six scholarships for online short courses from Agri Skills Transfer, which will help young farmers develop their skills and advance their careers in the agricultural industry.

Young farmers are invited to write a 400-word essay depicting the future of farming in South Africa. All entries must be received by 15 April 2024. For any inquiries or further information regarding the Scholarship Competition, please contact Laurika du Bois at laurika@agriskills.net or Mariëtte Minnaar at sekretaresse@tlu.co.za

Young farmers can also look forward to the annual Young Farmer of the Year competition, which has commenced. Entries close on 21 June 2024, and farm visits will take place between 15 – 19 July 2024. The winner, runner-up, and third place will be announced later this year during the annual TLU SA Congress.

“It’s always good to be able to measure yourself against other farmers. It’s good to learn, and a bit of healthy competition is a good thing,” said crop farmer Nicky van der Linde after being named TLU SA’s Young Farmer of the Year last year.

One of Van der Linde’s prizes was a year’s use of a double-cab 4×4 GWM pickup, sponsored by the Hatfield Motor Group. “Its road-holding ability is very good, it tows very nicely, your trailer stays still behind the pickup, and its 4×4 capability surprised me a lot. The GWM pickup doesn’t shy away from any rough roads,” said Van der Linde.

Prizes for the 2024 winner, thanks to various sponsors, were announced during the Young Farmer Conference on 15 March 2024. “TLU SA is grateful for the support and sponsorship from Introlab, Santam, Manitou, and the Hatfield Motor Group, which make this remarkable competition possible,” said Senekal. Inquiries regarding the TLU SA Young Farmer of the Year 2024 competition can be directed to Mariëtte Minnaar at sekretaresse@tlu.co.za or Clemens Senekal at clemens@picrsa.co.za.