Crop production in KwaZulu-Natal
There is a wide range of cropping systems used by farmers in KwaZulu-Natal, from trench beds of a few square metres to monoculture cropping of sugar cane and maize on farms covering hundreds of hectares.
In 1998 Kirsten and van Zyl stated that "South African agriculture is comprised of mainly two categories of farmers -- the subsistence farmers in the former homeland areas and the large-scale commercial (mainly white) farmers." More recent research (Okunlola et al., 2016; Zantsiet al., 2019; Statistics South Africa, 2005), however, shows that there are many black smallholders that are efficient commercial farmers, and that many commercial farmers are smallholders with annual turnovers of less than R300 000.00.
Monocrop maize, timber and sugar farmers were dominant users of arable land in the region before democratic elections in 1994, but economic and political pressures have resulted in many changes. Many maize grain producers now use no-till and other conservation agriculture (CA) technologies, and rotate maize with soyabean, wheat (where irrigation is possible) and winter forage cover crops. Dairy farmers still produce maize silage on large areas but, again, many have adopted CA, and areas under irrigated perennial pastures have expanded. With lower sugar prices, many sugar cane farmers have diversified; macadamia production is booming, and other horticultural crops are increasing in importance, especially where irrigation is possible.