Cover cropping: Thinking out of the box

Written by Simon Hodgson


Difficult situations inspire ingenious solutions. “'n Boer maak ‘n plan” … or as the old saying goes “Necessity is the Mother of Invention” probably applies to farmers more than any other professional group, and it is with this type of innovative thinking of making a plan or inventing a new way to do something that sets farmers apart from the herd. Thinking sideways, thinking critically or thinking out of the box – demands an approach of looking at your operation with a constructively diagnostic eye from an alternative perspective to the norm. Cover crops fall into this way of thinking.


To stimulate that type of thinking a number of self-examining questions need to be analysed:


  • Why do I do what I do on the farm on a daily basis?

  • Am I just going through the motions each morning?

  • Has running my farm become a habit?


  • When did I last break down and analyse an operation on my farm?

  • There is more often than not more than one way of doing the same thing – have I looked at all of them?

  • Am I using the best technology to achieve the desired results?


  • When did I last do a work study of the operations involved in my production process?

  • Efficiency of each operation should be paramount.

  • Have I closely examined all possibilities to reveal the flaws in the system?


  • How many things do I do on my farm that my father or neighbour taught me?

  • Doing the same thing day after day produces the same result day after day.

  • If I am trying to improve my operation I cannot continue doing the same thing and expect a different result?


  • When did I last introduce a new concept, method or technique into my production process?

  • Do I just accept that because it is working that it is the best way of doing it?

  • Is the phrase – “if it isn’t broken don’t try fix it” applicable to the way I farm?


Every farming operation differs and that is one of the beauties of agriculture, there are no absolutes. This means there is always an opportunity to examine and improve on your operation. Ask your wife, your Induna or young adult offspring to look at your operation and ask them to give you an idea as to how they would go about implementing that operation. Women’s intuition, the person at the coal face daily and the simplicity of youth will surprise you.

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