Agriculture is a precision science and a large-scale business that requires top class skills to succeed. This means that budding farmers not only need to be at the forefront of new technological developments, but be able to operate these systems and equipment to their utmost capacity.
Since John Deere leads the way in technological advancements in agriculture, once farmers are familiar with their systems, a whole new world of precision possibilities opens up. This provides those with the know-how to operate John Deere’s sophisticated machinery with so much more opportunities to expand their horizons and get the most out of every hectare farmed.
The Peritum Agri Institute offers Advanced Equipment Operator training to assist new farmers in obtaining these skills.
Belinda Louw, director of the Peritum Group, notes that the ever-evolving, ever-advancing technological landscape of agriculture demands regular skills updates on technological solutions and equipment for farming. “A farmer that stays abreast of technological development can ensure optimal operation and utilisation of farm equipment, a key driver for both production and financial efficiencies.”
Jacques Taylor, Managing Director for John Deere Sub-Saharan Africa shared their vision for Africa - to play a central role in helping farmers become more efficient and productive to produce food for the continent. “Education and skills transfer are key enablers that help all farmers keep up-to-date with the latest technology developments and ability to optimally utilize their equipment. Our collaboration with Peritum Agri Institute comes over many years and together we are making a difference to the lives of many farmers.”
The three day Advanced Equipment Operator course is ideally aimed at equipment operators who require more advanced skills, young students or farmers who want to work on farms locally and in the United States, and farmers who perform contract farming. Louw says that having such training allows students to enter the farming sector as trained, skilled and certified equipment operators, which improves their chances of securing employment.
“The operator training is a highly intensive practical course. Learners gain knowledge and skills to effectively operate a tractor, combine, self-propelled sprayer and planter according to its advanced functions. This includes operational functions of the equipment, screen layout and features, hitching of implements, auto steer, GPS functionalities and calibrations, to name but a few.
“Safety and maintenance of the equipment forms the basis of the course, taking into consideration the capital value of equipment and the importance of safety.”
The more than 200 farmers who have completed this course and have since gone on to work the land on farms across the globe, are testament to necessity of a trained workforce, and the doors that open up as a result of having the right skills.
The benefits of these courses stretch so much further than equipping farmers to work abroad. It also benefits the industry in South Africa, since many of the farmers return home after honing their skills in the United States. Louw says that after gaining international experience on mega farms and working with state-of-the-art technology, gives farmers a broader vision of agriculture and a more in-depth understanding of the sector. This in turn adds to the skills base of our own sector and bodes well for the advancement of precision farming.
The collaboration between John Deere and Peritum has also assisted transformation efforts and several students taking part in the programmes have progressed beyond just being farmworkers.
Benza Motsoeneng from the Petrus Steyn area was sponsored by an eastern Free State farmer to enrol for Peritum’s Diploma in Animal Production. Louw says that he was so successful that he was elected to participate in the International Exchange programme with the Aeres University of Applied Science in the Netherlands.
“We had another farm worker, Edwin Sehaole, who never had access to tertiary studies. He is the supervisor on a mixed crop farm in the Marquard area and the farmer was so impressed with his commitment to his job that he enrolled Edwin for the Diploma studies. This was a lifelong dream for Edwin and opened up a world of knowledge to him.”