At SIZA, our unwavering commitment to assist the South African Agricultural Industry with their sustainability and continuous improvement drives our actions to ensure it meets global market needs and requirements. Over the last couple of years, we engaged in a variety of forums and on different levels with global markets. Therefore, it became clear that integrated farm practices need to be incorporated as part of the SIZA Environmental standard. The importance of a comprehensive can be seen during benchmarking exercises and supplying a cost-effective option with one preferred audit, such as SIZA Environmental. Animal ecology and the awareness of its impact on the surrounding environment is essential for ensuring sustainable farming practices and encouraging producers to understand the impact on their farming ecosystem by their livestock, regardless of its size or quantity. Market requirements are clear, and it is essential to integrate animal ecology as a pillar of sustainability.
The production of animals or keeping of livestock on a farm has a significant environmental impact on farming activities, whether the farm predominantly produces citrus, pome fruit, stone fruit cultivation, or even table grape farming. This impact is seen in the effect animals have on factors such as soil quality, depletion of natural resources if not managed effectively, over-grazing the surrounding land, increased water usage, disease and other factors which impact all farming activities. Based on these factors and an awareness from global markets, the SIZA Environmental Standard ensures that producers manage livestock effectively and sustainably to minimise adverse effects on the environment and surrounding ecosystem.
The requirements for animal ecology will form part of the requirements during third-party audits. The potential risk factors of producers’ animal production on the farming and natural environment will be evaluated by adequately assessing these practices. The audit will aim to let the business understand the impact animals can have on the environment and ensure they can implement mitigation plans to prevent any damage to the ecosystem, such as diseases that can spread throughout the entire ecosystem, affecting soil quality, making water sources poisonous or even impacting the longevity of the land. Attention to the animal’s living conditions, including adequate quarters and sustainable grazing practices in harmony with the environment, will be central on the producer’s farm. The producer’s commitment to continuous improvement, in conjunction with a focus on animal ecology, empowers them to develop a more sustainable and adaptable farming method.
How will this work during an audit?
If a producer does not have any animals on their land, then naturally, no additional measures will need to be taken. If producers have animals on the farm, whether it is for main production or commercial farming purposes or only for small household use, they should ensure that they have a plan in place to mitigate any potential risk to the environment. The auditor will evaluate the effectiveness of the management of such production, and such a plan can include factors such as:
- Livestock size and type of animals
- Grazing/animal feed requirements
- Awareness of necessary vaccination/veterinary inspection to prevent disease outbreaks.
- Emergency response in case of natural disasters, such as floods, which may cause an outbreak of disease or removal of grazing areas.
- Any other risks that may be associated with the animals’ impact on the environment.
SIZA is devoted to assisting producers in embracing and complying with these requirements, ensuring a harmonious balance between agricultural progress and environmental preservation. Through these efforts, the industry aims to foster a more resilient and efficient farming industry, one that aligns with an ecosystem that sustains us all.
Written by Wian van Niekerk