Books and chapters in books

Nell, W. T. and Napier, R. J. 2005. Strategic approach to farming success: Securing competitive advantage in a turbulent global agricultural environment. Bloemfontein, SA: Wim Nell Agricultural Management Consultant. ISBN 0-620-33428-2

Nell, W. T. and Du Plessis, D. M. 2005. Growing vegetables: A comprehensive guide on how to establish, maintain and manage a vegetable garden. Centre for Agricultural Management, University of the Free State. (Also available on video and DVD). ISBN 0-86866-709-8

Nell, W. T., Maine, N. and Basson, P. M. 2006. Africa. Part III: Current status, Chapter 17, pp. 465-500. In: Handbook of precision agriculture: Principles and applications, edited by Srinivasan, Ancha. New York: Food Products Press. ISBN-13: 978-1-56022-954-4

Articles published in Agrekon

Agrekon, Vol 46, No 4 (December 2007)

Economic analysis of phosphorus applications under variable and single-rate applications in the Bothaville district
Maine, N., Nell, W. T., Lowenberg-DeBoer, J. and Alemu, Z. G.

The Journal of International Farm Management Editorial - It is with great pleasure that I can say we now have an 'online' edition of the Journal of International Farm Management on the IFMA website ( A major advantage of being online is reduced publication and distribution costs. We can add editions as frequently as we have papers for publication. We plan to have at least two editions per year.

Register your interest:

16th International Farm Management Congress, Cork Ireland (15-20 July 2007)

A vibrant rural economy – The challenge for balance

Applied Papers, edited by Seamus O'Reilly, Michael Keane and Pat Enright.

Applied papers

Rob Napier and Wim T. Nell
How the world's leading farmers are responding to global changes, pp. 143-151.

Le Roux van Wyk and WT Nell
Labour productivity in South Africa, pp. 180-185.

Ntsikane Maine
Livestock-based livelihoods: Commercialising livestock production under communal land use systems, pp. 48-56.

Petso Mokhatla, Ntsikane Maine and Wim T. Nell
Sustainable farmer settlement in South Africa, pp. 57-63.

13th International Management Congress, The Netherlands, Wageningen – 7-12 July 2002

Author(s): Dennis, H. J. and Nell, W. T.
Organisation: Centre for Agricultural Management, Faculty of Natural and Agricultural Sciences, University of the Free State, Bloemfontein
Country: South Africa

The Republic of South Africa covers an area of 122 million hectare of which 18 million hectare is potential land for cultivation. Eight percent of the potential arable land are under irrigation, which accounts for nearly half of the water requirement in South Africa. With a population of 42 million and an estimated annual population growth of 1,7%, urbanisation and industrialisation will increase the pressure on the availability of water resources and the allocation thereof in South Africa. The purpose of the National Water Act, Act 36 of 1998, is to ensure that the nation’s water resources are protected, developed, conserved, managed, and controlled. Agricultural production under irrigation in South Africa retrieves water from water resources such as groundwater which irrigates 24% of the irrigable area, while surface water irrigates 76% of the irrigable area in South Africa. Farmers using groundwater for irrigation is currently subjected to a water resource management charge of 0,54 c/m³. Users of surface water buy a water-right and pay an annual water levy, and groundwater belongs to the owner of the farm who can use it at no cost. Precision irrigation as an aspect of precision agriculture, is a relatively new concept in irrigation farming worldwide. It involves the application of irrigation water in optimum quantities over an area of land which are not uniform and has variations in soil type, soil water capacity, potential yield, and topography. Precision irrigation provides a sustainable agricultural system which uses resources efficiently and develops and maintains the actual water demands. Precision agriculture is a knowledge-based technical management system which should optimise farm profit and minimise the impact of agriculture on the environment.

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Author(s): Nell, W. T. and Schwalbach, L.
Organisation: Faculty of Natural and Agricultural Sciences, University of the Free State, Bloemfontein, Free State Province,
Country: South Africa

Technological breakthroughs in agriculture after the Second World War mainly concentrated on crop production (wheat, rice, and later maize). In the livestock production sector, besides the substantial improvements in the poultry and dairy production systems, the development of the other livestock technologies was neglected, due to lower returns when compared to those on crop technology. Nevertheless, the usage of livestock veterinary technologies such as veterinary services and medicines remains important for livestock production as animal diseases are a major cause of poor productivity and high mortality rates, which are major constraints to improve food security. The reasons for poor adoption of livestock veterinary technologies among livestock farmers all over the world are not fully understood. There is a generally accepted perception among veterinary practitioners that these farmers react to what they see when it comes to the adoption of these technologies, and prefer a therapeutic approach rather than a preventative one. This hypothesis was never before scientifically tested. The study proved this hypothesis for the first time.

The results suggest that medication technologies are mainly adopted once the problem becomes visible. Sheep and goat farmers (small ruminant farmers) in the former homelands only treat their animals for external parasites (ticks and mites) when they can see them on the animal's skin and wool. No farmer in this area adopts a prophylactic approach to preventing external parasites. This attitude explains a much higher adoption of external parasite remedies than internal parasite remedies, as well as a higher adoption of antibiotics (therapeutic medicine) than vaccines (preventative medicine). Small ruminant farmers react on what they see when it comes to disease control.

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Author(s): Serage, K.L. (1); Nell, W.T. (2); Makula, M. (3) and Tolmay, J.P.C. (1)
Organisation: 1-ARC-Small Grain Institute, Free State Province, 2-Centre for Agricultural Management, University of the Free State, 3-GROW, Mokhotlong,
Country: 1 and 2-South Africa, 3-Lesotho

The main objective of the study was to identify possible predictors for adoption of potatoes into a wheat-based cropping system. In this study, nine explanatory variables were tested against two dependent variables (p „T 0,15). The explanatory variables were gender, age, training, land ownership, soil type, household size, number of household members below the age of six (< 6) years, number of household members between 6 and 18 years of age, and farming experience. The dependent variables tested were: crops adopted by farmers and household knowledge of soil fertility. Of the nine explanatory variables tested against crops adopted, only two categorical variables, namely training (p=0,11) and land ownership (p=0,09), and one continuous variable, farming experience (p=0,02), were significant possible predictors. Of the three variables (gender, age, and training) tested against household knowledge of soil fertility, only gender emerged as a significant possible predictor (p=0,01). Farmers’ years of experience and level of knowledge on soil fertility indicated a significant relationship (p=0,00) with a correlation coefficient of 0,25.

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Author(s): Mokhatla, P.Z. and Nell, W.T.
Organisation: Department of Agricultural Economics, University of the Free State, Bloemfontein.
Country: South Africa

The South African government initiated the land reform programme in 1994, which is facilitated by the Department of Land Affairs. The land reform programme has three divisions, namely redistribution, restitution, and land tenure. The main objectives of land reform since its inception, are poverty alleviation, justice, food security, rural transformation, economic growth and  to readdress the landless, the poor, women, the disposed, and the previously disadvantaged to acquire land. The question can be asked: Has land reform achieved its goals in the past 10 years since its inception?

This paper outlines the concept of a strategic approach as described by Nell and Napier (2005) to help successfully establish farmers in South Africa and also other strategies that the government can adopt to settle farmers successfully.

Keywords: land reform, strategic approach, emerging farmers.

Author(s): Maine, N. and Nell, W.T.
Organisation: Centre for Agricultural Management, Department of Agricultural Economics, University of the Free State.
Country: South Africa

Precision agriculture is one of the important agricultural technologies that can assist farmers and managers in promoting long-term success. Precision agriculture can help farm managers increase their management capacity, which is of the utmost importance in the highly competitive modern agriculture. Increased yields and/or efficient input use can also be achieved with precision agriculture. Precision agriculture also involve a large capital outlay and requires skills in interpreting the masses of generated data. Modern farmers have to engage in pro-active thinking with regard to suitable agricultural systems that can enhance sustainable success of their farming businesses. Farm managers who are contemplating getting involved in precision agriculture, need to undergo a paradigm shift or a mind shift. This paper proposes a set of guidelines on how the process of implementing precision agriculture can be strategically approached in a holistic way.

Keywords: Precision agriculture, Strategic approach, Farming, Farming success.

Author(s): Nell, W.T.(1) and Napier R.J.(2)
Organisation: 1-Centre for Agricultural Management, University of the Free State, Bloemfontein, 2-Napier Agrifutures.
Country: 1-South Africa, 2-Australia

This paper is an abstract of a new book for farmers launched on 8 April 2005 (Nell and Napier, 2005).

The two authors, Wim Nell of South Africa and Rob Napier of Australia, have respectively 28 and 37 years national and international experience in strategic agricultural management. The book is written for farmers across the world and is dedicated to all farmers.

The book takes the reader on a strategic journey to farming success, which consists of 11 stages. At the end of each stage, the reader has the opportunity to answer some questions that will guide the process of compiling a strategic plan for a specific farming business. The book opens new horizons for the modern farmer to manage the farming business more successfully.

Keywords: Farming success, strategic approach, strategic farming, scenarios, holistic management.

Author(s): Hough, Ella Christina (1) and Nell, W. T. (2)
Organisation: 1-Department of Agriculture: Western Cape, 2-University of the Free State, Bloemfontein, FSP
Country: South Africa

Confusion still exists regarding the meaning of the organic production system. It can be defined as a holistic production system which enhances the agricultural eco-system by prohibiting the use of synthetic production mediums. It focuses on the improvement of soil fertility and the protection of the environment.

The environmental advantages by themselves are not reason enough for farmers to adopt organic practices. The financial implication of organic agriculture in comparison with conventional practices is very important. It does not matter how ecologically advantegeous organic farming is, if a farming system does not show sufficient profit for the farmer to stay in business in a free market, an organic system will not be adopted. Ecological agriculture tends to have slightly lower yields, but production costs also tend to be lower during full production, due to the reduced use of purchased inputs. The net income (gross margin) from organic and conventional practices is thought to be comparable, although either can be advantageous under specific conditions.

Many South African producers are interested in the organic production practices of wine grapes. Some of the producers are already busy converting their vineyards to organic practices. An important question relating to the organic production of wine grapes is the cost associated with the practice.

Research had been undertaken by Coetzee of the farm Vaalpan in the Vanrhynsdorp district near Vredendal, South Africa. The farm is 12 hectares in extent, of which 3 hectares are under the production of organic wine grapes. The purpose of the research was to compare the financial issues relating to conventional and organic practices. The results had shown that the price of the wine grapes and specially the price premium of organic wine, would determine whether the organic production of wine grapes was financially viable, as the production was lower and the production costs were higher.

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