Research Technician Proves his Mettle
For the past eight years, Mr Nkosinathi Kaptein has worked as a Research Technician at the Institute for Commercial Forestry Research (ICFR) on UKZN’s Pietermaritzburg campus - this week he graduated with an MSc (Agric) degree in Agrometeorology.
His thesis, titled: “Irrigation Control System with a Web-Based Interface for the Management of Eucalyptus Planting Stock”, investigated the effectiveness of an automated irrigation system in an air temperature controlled greenhouse.
Kaptein was supervised by UKZN’s Professor Michael Savage and Dr Marnie Light (UKZN/ICFR).
‘Nkosinathi is currently the only Research Technician at the ICFR to have obtained an MSc degree,’ said Light.
‘Whilst working at the ICFR, Nkosinathi undertook a part-time BSc degree through UNISA,’ explained Light, ‘This was followed by a part-time BSc Honours in Agrometeorology at UKZN, which he was awarded in 2014. The aptitude he demonstrated while doing his Honours led him to undertake a master’s degree.
‘For the duration of his study, he was a full-time employee and much of the preparation of his dissertation was carried out in his own time,’ said Light.
As part of Kaptein’s master’s research, small dielectric soil water content sensors were laboratory calibrated against the gravimetric method using coir/pine-bark/vermiculite media mix. The system was tested in containers used for Eucalyptus seedling production for plantation forestry.
‘This study showed that the automated irrigation system, based on measurements of media water content, can be used with success in scheduling irrigation for Eucalyptus seedlings, leading to potential savings in water usage,’ explained Light.
Kaptein was awarded first prize for a poster presentation on the research he presented at the UKZN College of Agriculture, Engineering and Science’s 2015 Postgraduate Research Day. He also presented the findings of his research to forestry stakeholders at ICFR field days and the ICFR Annual Research Meeting.
Kaptein aims to continue his studies and pursue a PhD in Agrometeorology.