UL Experimental Farm

UL Experimental Farm, The Syferkuil Experimental Farm (SEF) is situated 9 km north-west of the main campus. The primary objective of the SEF is to provide practical training facilities for students as well as research facilities for staff and students.

The farm is required to generate a significant amount of its financial resources. Thus, sound management and economic principles are employed on the farm. The farm is also used for community outreach activities. On average, three groups of school children or smallholder farmers visit the farm each month. The annual Information Days attract practical farmers and receives support from the Agricultural business community.

The farm consists of 1 600 ha of natural grazing land, 25 ha of non-irrigated cropland and 80 ha of irrigated cropland. Seventy seven hectares of the irrigated land is served by an automated linear irrigation system: 40 ha are used at a time in rotation for the cultivation of winter or summer crops. Summer crops include maize, soybeans, sugar beans and sorghum. Different cultivation practices such as zero and minimum tillage are compared. Lucerne is planted on 7 ha for the production of hay and hands-on practical classes for students. Planted pastures for intensive sheep grazing have been established on 2 ha. One hectare is used for winter pastures rotated with summer crops.

A small vegetable garden and a 0.75 ha vegetable research block are utilized by researchers and students. Applied research on irrigation and fertilizer methods are practised on this section. There are two 10-ha plots fitted with separate irrigation systems used by researchers and students for research on field crops. A citrus orchard with different cultivars of oranges, easy-peelers, lemons and grapefruit is used for student practical and demonstrations.

The following livestock units also provide opportunities for demonstrations at farmer’s days, student training and for research: Bonsmara and Nguni cattle as well as a dairy unit; Dorper and Bapedi sheep; Boer goats and Saanen milk goats as well as crossbred Red Kalahari goats, crossbreds with adaptable indigenous Bapedi goats, ostriches, broilers and layers; and a few horses.