Crop Production Efficiency
Areas of Food Security
The defined project fits in the FSI vision on a number of levels, i.e. Access(to water supplies, bio-fuels made from materials that do not compete with food supply, information that can be used to manage crops, information to help small and resource poor farmers to improve production efficiency) and Availability (of alternative water resources like desalinated sea water).
Fit with the Food Security Initiative Vision
All the projects have a well defined deliverable that are clearly linked to the FSI vision by the generation of information, resources and know how that will either give access to resources for crop production , or to information that will help manage crops or increase the efficiency of food production.
Goals, Objectives and Outcomes
Summary of Projects
1. Automated unmanned aircraft
- Automation (take-off, flight, navigation and landing) and failsafe operation of unmanned aircraft.
- Monitoring of crops and water suppliesAutomated unmanned aircraft will be used for the generation of aerial imagery of precisely determined locations of crops and fields, the frequent monitoring of rural dam levels and dam water quality, plant and algae coverage over water supplies, the monitoring of sewerage and storm water spillage and pollution into agricultural water resources, fire, plague and flood progression and damage, and the provision of security, monitoring and surveillance of livestock.
2. Second generation bio-fuels
This project will concentrate on second generation bio-fuels that do not compete with food supply. The “digestion” of any cellulose material (agricultural and industrial waste, wood chips etc.) to produce feedstock for bio-fuel production will be researched. The effect of bio-fuels on modern diesel engines will also be studied in detail.
3. Modelling of alien invasion species and seed distribution of plants
- An investigation of the effect of invasive species on the environment as a generalized multidisciplinary analysis of complex systems.
- Modelling of the dispersal and movement of seeds in relation to unstable topography (e.g. desert or coastal dunes) to combat expansion of such areas.
4. Efficient use of water resources to maximize water availability
- Development of additional methods of water supply such as desalination (membrane – based and thermal) recycling of water-based effluents.
- River system and groundwater optimization modeling
5. Development of antimicrobial agents for control of food and crop spoilage organisms
The research will focus on lipophilic compounds with biosurfactant properties produced by a wide range of bacteria. These compounds have been demonstrated to exhibit potent biocidal and fungicidal activity against numerous spoilage and pathogenic organisms
6. Process improvement and technology transfer to the upcoming, but resource poor, farming fishermen and small entrepreneur sectors within communities of South Africa
Analysis and improvement of farming processes
- Development of standard practices and methods based on widely applied operations management methodologies
- Development of training programes to improve the business acumen and management abilities of upcoming farmers, fishermen and small entrepreneurs in a drive to assist in the development of sustainable income resources for South African communities
- The design and development of two applications that will serve as a manifestation of the process:i. The creation of a self contained solar power water pump which uses natural physics as the only power supply (meaning it excludes any electricity )for rural useii. The modeling, inclusive of all designs pertaining to infrastructure, of an organic broiler unit for upcoming farming communities
- Postgraduate outputs (2009 -2011)Masters enrollments -38PhD enrollments- 10Masters degrees- 13PhD degrees – 0
- Publications outputs (2009- 2011)Publication units (PE’s) – 5.5
- Milestones/products (2009-2011)a) Automated unmanned aircrafts prototypes.b) Bio-fuels that will be tested in diesel enginesc) Software to model the dynamics of invasion species and seed distribution in unstable topographiesd) Water desalination prototypes and models to optimize the availability of ground watere) Production of antimicrobial agentsf) The creation of a self contained solar powered water pump for resource poor farmersg) Organic broiler unit for upcoming farming communities
- Equipment acquisition (2009 -2011)A total of R3.3 million is budgeted for the acquisition of equipment
- Infrastructure improvements (2009 – 2011)A total R660 000 is budgeted for the improvement of infrastructure
- Reports (2009-2011)Numerous reports will be generated during the duration of the project
- Third income stream (2009-2011)It is envisaged that the OSP allocation will be used to leverage an amount of about R5,8 million from the industry during the three year period
Duration of the project and student involvement
The sub-projects are built on existing research expertise, and the idea is that after the 3 year OPS funding period that the activities will be sustained for time to come. The OSP funding will thus be used to leverage additional funding from the industry to make projects sustainable after 2011.The planned student involvement is shown in the summary of projects above
As can be seen in deliverables above about R5.8 million is envisaged to come from industry funding in 2009 to 2011 period. The funding will come from industrial partners that are active in the appropriate research areas. Most of the linkages are already in existence
- Satellite mapping of water resources and cropsAutomated unmanned aircraft have tremendous potential for the management of water resources and crops. These unmanned vehicles can be used for the generation of aerial imagery of precisely determined locations of crops and fields; i.e. crop growth, crop readiness, soil water content and crop health, the frequent monitoring of fire, plague and flood progression and damage and the provision of security, monitoring and monitoring of livestock. It can also be used for the frequent monitoring of rural dam levels and dam water quality, plant and algae coverage over water supplies and sewerage and storm water spillage and pollution into agricultural water sources. The research focus in the Faculty of Engineering is the automation (take off ,flight, navigation and landing)and failsafe operation of unmanned aircraft, as well as the generation of imagery on the unmanned vehicles, albeit on satellite or an earth based vehicles. The imagery capabilities of the recently launched Sumbandila satellite, with a 6m resolution, clearly demonstrates the usefulness of the technology for food security purposes.
- Development of additional methods of water supply such as membrane-based desalination and recycling of water- based effluentsSecure and reliable food supply via the agricultural sector is dependent on the availability of fresh water for irrigation and food processing. Desalination and effluent treatment enable augmentation and or recycling of existing water supplies and therefore indirectly contribute to the reliability of the food supply chain. Over the past forty years, membrane- based filtration and desalination has become an integral part of many water treatment plants world- wide, while the application of this technology is limited by typical factors such as membrane fouling, membrane life and related costs, energy consumption and water recovery. Related research at the Department of Process Engineering entails improvement of membrane spinning techniques, optimization of water recovery from desalination concentrates and risk assessment related to re-use of membrane-filtered secondary sewerage.
- Bio-fuel production and the performance of bio-ethanol in modern diesel enginesThis project will concentrate on second generation bio-fuels that do not compete with food supply. The “digestion” of any cellulose material (agricultural and industrial waste, wood chips etc.) to produce feedstock for the bio-fuel production will be researched.Specifically a performance analysis and optimization of the fermentation processes for the bio-ethanol production will be investigated. This study will go hand in hand with a comparative study on the performance of biodiesel in a modern 1.9 litre turbo diesel engine.
Prof WJ Perold
Vice Dean: Research
Faculty of Engineering
Tel: 021 8084368