The Central University of Technology has taken its agricultural centre to another level by purchasing a new John Deere 5075E cab tractor.
Estimated to be worth more than R1 million, the tractor was officially presented to the institution’s Department of Agriculture by Senwes and John Deere SA on Wednesday (02/08).
Dan Maritz, spokesperson of the institution, says the tractor was purchased for the institution’s Agricultural Training Centre on a farm in the Bainsvlei area, Bloemfontein. He says the farm has 32 ha of cultivable lands and 1,5 ha of natural pasture.
Maritz says the tractor is a necessary tool to advance the training of students studying agriculture.
“The tractor will allow the training of agriculture students. Formal operation training sessions will be conducted in collaboration with Senwes and John Deere SA. Students will be exposed to maintenance of the machinery and general upkeep. Different cultivations will be done on the farm, which will form part of experiential skills training for students. Along with research conducted on the farm, practical classes and work-integrated learning will have a high educational and intrinsic value for the students,” says Maritz.
He says the fact that the farm is surrounded by active commercial farms will benefit the agricultural training of students.
“The farm will have livestock such as lambs and broiler chickens and include an array of organically grown produce such as watermelons, cabbages, pumpkins, dryland maize, sunflowers and other melons,” says Maritz.
Prof. Carlu van der Westhui-zen, professor at Environmental Health, says the training centre and tractor will contribute to teaching and learning and will add immense value to developing students’ practical skills.
“Annually, Senwes pledged to make a large tractor that has automated capabilities, such as self-driving, available for training, at no cost to the university.”
Palesa Suping, a third-year student in agriculture, is glad that the department has purchased a tractor and land.
“I am very happy that we finally have our own farm and equipment. We used to do our practical at other farms and I was not free to make mistakes and learn from them while doing my practical, but now I feel relaxed in a safe learning environment.”