Impact of Air Pollution on Maize Production in the Sasolburg Area, South Africa

Phokele Maponya, Isaac T Rampedi


Previous studies have shown that air pollution has an effect on maize production and can also influence yield. Since the pollution load at Sasolburg exceeds certain air quality standards, it is identified as a ‘hot spot’ and is therefore a perfect region to conduct studies regarding the impact of air pollution on maize production. The Northern Free State region is well known for its high maize production and residents of towns up to 50 km away from Sasolburg indicated that they can smell the fumes of the Sasolburg industries. This study included status of maize production over the past 5 years by visiting farmers every 25 km from Sasolburg, for 100 km. Thus, 4 sampling points of 25 km intervals have been visited. Farmers were asked to fill in questionnaires and provide information related to air pollution and maize production. This was done in three different directions from Sasolburg. It is expected that maize yield near Sasolburg will be less than yield far from Sasolburg if pollution influence maize production. Average maize production by the Free State province as well as individual farmers, and other published and unpublished data which were used, concluded that maize production is in fact, influenced by the air pollution from Sasolburg, low income residents burning coal and other substances in the Sasolburg region. The research also indicated that new technology and techniques make it possible for farmers to maximize maize yield and still, year by year, increase the maize production on their farms. South Africa is able to adapt and work around the air pollution problem, but will enter a downwards maize production curve when the original pollution problem is not addressed. It is therefore recommended that the problem of air pollution in the Sasolburg region be solved, rather than adapting to the circumstances with new agricultural technologies. This study has contributed to maize production, air pollution influences on maize yield and farmer awareness in the Sasolburg region and nearby towns.

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Journal of Agricultural Science ISSN 1916-9752 (Print) ISSN 1916-9760 (Online)

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