We’re just emerging from a severe drought. As I speak, it’s bucketing with torrential rain and it’s come in the nick of time! Whether ‘flooding’ is the lesser evil, we will know soon but I think all farmers in KwaZulu-Natal are sighing deep breaths of relief that the rain is at least here. It’s a whole 2 months late. Last weekend we were in Underberg and it was astounding to see how dry the dairy farms are, grass eaten down to the roots and silage pits dangerously dwindling with only a week or so of feed left for livestock. Some farmers have already had to make tough decisions and sell off part of their herd because of the shortage of forage grass and water to irrigate.
My challenge over these last couple weeks has been to get imagery of forage grass and crops for Pannar Seed! I have been commissioned to supply them with agricultural imagery for their 2021 catalogue. While the Ixopo and Creighton districts seem not to have been as badly affected by the drought as Underberg has, I could sense the ‘mild panic’ on the other end of the phone when asking the local farmers if they have some nice ‘green Pannar fields’ for me to photograph! It seemed like a long shot, but I got lucky! Thank you to CB Dairies in Creighton and Ixopo for giving me free range on their dairy farms! Despite the drought, I’ve got to say these pastures were looking good. A field of fat dairy cows during a drought is quite an achievement! I’m sure it’s been due to carefully managed grazing rotations and well stocked fodder banks, something I’m sure will be on the forefront of dairy farmers minds right now in case next year is anything like this year! With the rain we’ve had these last few days, there is suddenly a rush on planting maize!
In a couple weeks time, I will be photographing another region that has been hugely affected by climate change but that is so completely different to the lush green (in comparison) landscapes of Southern KwaZulu-Natal! I will be going to Senegal with AgDevCo where I will be photographing Smallholder rice farmers! I absolutely love the diversity of my job. From KZN cows to rice farmers in Senegal – I could never get bored doing what I do!
CB Dairies – Ixopo
CB Dairies -Creighton