• SABI Congress 2015, come be informed and walk with the lions
  • SABI magazine, new edition and new developments
  • SABI website ads
  • SABI Training 2015
  • SABI Membership fees
  • Renewal of membership for SABI Approved Designers
  • SABI Validation certificates
  • Diarise SABI Branch meetings and golf day dates 2015
  • In memory: fond tributes to John Eckard, Mick Radford and Hans Tank.
  • Celebrate Water Week 2015

SABI Congress 2015

40 Years of Irrigation Development – Quality through Innovation

3-6 August 2015
Protea Ranch Hotels, Polokwane, Limpopo .

The organisation of a super 2015 Congress is progressing well, says SABI general manager Riana Lombard, who says this will be a highly informative Congress in a wonderfully picturesque part of South Africa, Limpopo.

Riana emphasises it is a special Congress, as it heralds SABI’s 40th Anniversary, with the birthday celebrations starting at Congress, with SABI turning 40 in 2016. You can look forward to a fantastically informative and festive Congress, comments Riana.

Delegates can look forward to many tremendous presentations at a venue that typifies the African landscape that we all love.  The Protea Ranch Hotel is the leading conference and leisure destination in Limpopo, situated in 1000ha nature conservancy. Delegates will be invited to take a “walk with the lions” experience offered here, an experience of a lifetime.

Riana expects 250 people to attend, with attendees and delegates from South Africa, Africa, and the Continent and from abroad.

Riana welcomes and thanks the SABI National Congress 2015 sponsors, whose participation is much appreciated in this major event, which is at the heart of the dynamic South African and African irrigation industry and market. SABI National Congress is indeed the unique place to explore and upgrade your knowledge.

Rainbird (PLATINUM)



DPI Plastics (BRONZE)

Please contact Riana Lombard riana@sabi.co.za to make a booking, organise your company’s exhibition stand or to be a sponsor.

SABI Magazine – New developments and next edition

There is much development at SABI magazine. Soon the magazine will be sold also on the shelves of co-operatives (more news to follow) and our digital editions are being enhanced. We will keep you posted.
In the April May edition, you can look forward to informative articles on the following

  • Pumps, valves and pipes
  • Moving systems
  • Automated Control
  • Scheduling

Please also feel free to contact the editor Carol at carol@sabi.co.za with editorial submissions. Contact Riana at riana@sabi.co.za with your advertising bookings.

SABI web ads

Please be in touch if you want to advertise on the SABI website, we will send you the ratecard.


SABI Training

The SABI Training programme 2015 is well underway. Please check the SABI website for the full training programme, to choose you and/or your staff’s training for the year.

Ensure you book soon, you can contact the SABI office and speak with Amanda on 021 850 8220, or email isobel@sabi.co.za or annemarie@sabi.co.za.

SABI Membership Matters

  • Please note that your SABI membership fee increases by only 5% for 2015, membership invoices were sent to members in February 2015.
  • Please note that members who have still not paid their 2013 membership fees are no longer SABI members.
  • Please can you let us know if you change your contact details – telephone, email, postal address?

For new contact details and any queries on SABI Membership matters please email amanda@sabi.co.za or 021 850 8220.

We appeal to members to attend at least one branch meeting a year. Please do attend, keep in touch and participate in all there is we offer as this ensures you remain an active member of the Institute.

Please remember you may only make use of the SABI logo on your business card and other business literature with the permission of the SABI General Manager, Riana Lombard - riana@sabi.co.za.

Important info!
Renewal of membership – calling all SABI Approved Designers

It is important to take note that the new two year term to accumulate points to maintain your SABI Approved Designer membership starts this year. There are several Approved Designers who did not accumulate the requisite 5 points during the 2013-2014 term. For a list of these members please look at the SABI website: www.sabi.co.za.

The main purpose of this category – Approved Designers - of SABI membership is the opportunity to prove (via examination) a high level of theoretical and practical irrigation knowledge, and to hold this distinction from other members.

During the past 15 years, several members (Fellows and Members) took the exam and passed. A number of members are no longer active designers in the irrigation industry, but are paid-up members of the Institute. Thus, to ensure that the designer members meet the requirements to indeed be active in the industry, a renewal system for the Approved SABI Designer category was implemented as from 2013.

The following credits may be obtained for different activities:\

Attending meetings, SABI Congress and courses:

  • SABI branch meeting - 1 credit
  • SABI Congress - 3 credits
  • Courses - 1 credit per 8 hours (maximum of 3 credits per session)

Writing articles

  • 1 credit per one thousand words in an article published in the SABI Magazine or other national or international irrigation magazine or journal (maximum 3 credits per article)

Offering training in an irrigation topic

  • 0.5 credit per 2 hours of training (maximum of 4 credits per session)

The credits must be obtained in a period of two years: for example, from January 2015 to December 2016. All the Approved SABI Designer Members must obtain 5 credits in a two -year term. Records will be kept at the SABI office. Members who are professional engineers, technologists and technicians registered with ECSA, do not have to participate in the renewal system. The proof of professional registration with ECSA every 5 years must be submitted to SABI.

If an Approved Designer fails to comply with the requirements of the renewal system his / her membership status will be downgraded to ordinary Member or Fellow. For him / her to qualify as an Approved SABI Designer, the SNE must be re-written and passed.

New SABI member validation certificates

In the past, we have experienced problems with non-SABI members (who were members but now are no longer members) who used the SABI logo or stated that they are members of SABI. We decided at last year’s Council meeting that we must make use of a member validation certificate to solve the problem.

Therefore as soon as a member pays his or her membership fee the SABI office will send this certificate to him/her to prove that they are a paid-up member for the year. We will also refer on the certificate to the SABI website - all the SABI members names, in fact, appear on the website.

A client can therefore be assured that the SABI member is a paid-up member and not just using the SABI name for business.

On the certificate there is the following: the name of the member, membership status, membership number and date. The validation certificate will not replace the membership certificate you receive when you become a member of SABI. This validation certificate will be in a PDF electronic format and will be sent out by e-mail to paid-up members. We hope that members do not use this validation certificate incorrectly as every member of SABI needs to adhere to the SABI Code of Ethics.

SABI Branch Meetings – DIARISE NOW


  • Central
    26 March - 4 June - 7 October (Golf day)
  • Eastern Cape                    
    12 March - 11 June  - 15 October
  • KwaZulu Natal                  
    5 March - 11 June (Golf day) - 15 October
  • Limpopo                             
    11 March - 17 June - 14 October
  • Mpumalanga                    
    19 March - 19 June - 15 October
  • Oranje                                 
    11 March -  3 June - 4 November (Bowls)
  • Western Cape                  
    19 March - 25 June - 10 September -19 November (Golf day)


  • John Eckard
  • Mick Radford
  • Hans Tank


A tribute to John Eckard
An irrigation engineering icon

28 January 1939- 24 December 2014
by Felix Reinders, former colleague and friend

The irrigation Industry lost an icon in the person of John Eckard.

John was a champion in irrigation engineering and a gentleman in so many ways. He was not only an icon in the irrigation industry but so very much loved and respected as a family man, husband, father and grandfather. He is deeply missed by his wife Poeka and children Wynand, Hendrik, Elsabe, Anton and grandchildren.

John Eckard originally came from the former Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) and completed his Agricultural Engineering degree in 1961 at the University of Pretoria where it was awarded to him in March 1962.  He started his career in Rhodesia as a Conservationist and then as an engineer, working for the Standards Association of Central Africa and Rhotec Sales and Irrigation Limited before he came to South Africa in the late 60’s to work with Bauer Monoweld Irrigation Company and Everite. Here, John was the specialist for all automated and mechanised irrigation systems (centre pivots, wheel moves, etc.) as well as for the general range of agricultural sprinklers and equipment.  On 13 September 1970 together with Jerry Rossiter he celebrated the launch of the 19 tower Hygromatic Centre Pivot at Harry Oppenheimer’s Soetvelde Farms. This was the first centre pivot installed on the African continent.

In June 1974 he joined the Department of Technical Services, Division for Agricultural Engineering in Pretoria where he headed the research and official testing programme of irrigation equipment (drippers, sprinklers and pumps in the beginning and later on, filters and micro-sprayers). Here John and his team produced much published data which was sought after by irrigation designers and companies.

A Founder Member of SABI

John Eckard was also one of the initiators of the irrigation design course and developed and presented it jointly with the Department of Water Affairs in 1975.  This course was run in block weeks over a period and included practical exercises. Many of the present day designers attended these sources. The founding of the South African Irrigation Institute (SABI) can be directly related to these courses, which have had a very great influence on the industry and on agriculture at a time when irrigation was expanding rapidly and new technologies were being introduced.

It was under these conditions that SABI (South African Irrigation Institute) was officially founded on 23 October 1976 and the first national council elected, with John Eckard as one of the founder members. He headed the central branch in 1979 to 1980 and with his active role and liaison within the irrigation industry he was elected as the fifth President of SABI for the period from 1982 to 1983. With the SA Irrigation, SABI’s magazine,  launched on 7 November 1979, John Eckard’s many articles and his article series (Besproeingbrabbeltaal and Besproeingwerkplaas praatjies) written were striking; practical and provided excellent food for thought. In May 1984 he represented SABI at the twelfth congress of the International Commission on Irrigation and Drainage (ICID).


In June 1981, John joined Pestcor with Bert Harlaar. In this irrigation company he played a major role in the innovation and development of drippers, filters and other equipment.

In 1987 John Eckard became a lecturer in irrigation engineering at the University of Pretoria and while lecturing and preparing agricultural engineering students for the industry he enrolled himself for a Masters in Agricultural engineering which he obtained in 1990. His dissertation was “Introduction to Irrigation with computer assisted instruction” which was the forerunner of the SABI National Exam for Irrigation designers. In 1991 he also completed a Water Research Commission’s funded research project on: “Low pressure flow control mechanism for flood irrigation”.

He continued training at University until his retirement in 1998 when he, with his wife Poeka. John and Poeka enjoyed travelling the world, their visits included time in the Europe, Artic, the Northern Lights in Norway and watching the gorillas in Kenya amongst other excursions. They also enjoyed their time with their children and grandchildren on their farm at Swartspruit near Hartbeespoortdam.

John Eckard will be remembered as a person who had a passion for irrigation engineering: he built it, lived it, slept it, dreamt it and believed in it.

He lived his life in full together with his family and friends and he did what he loved every day. Although John was taken away abruptly from us he will remain in our memories and heart as “John Eckard”.

RIP John Eckard, we extend our condolences to all family and friends.



Passed on 12 December 2014

“When I think of my father, I remember being aware of the power in his hands and how well-worn they were.  He was a very competent handyman and looked after all the tools he owned with pride – he could turn his hands to many a job whenever required.  His eyes were filled with excitement and hope and above all, he was in great awe of God’s magnificent creation and was happiest when he was walking in the mountains and the forests where he was most aware of God’s presence.   In the quiet of nature he found it easy to communicate with God.  He had a deep faith in God and did a lot of soul searching.

Tennis, Sedgefield

He loved his social tennis which he played at least twice a week and made many friends while enjoying this sport.  Sedgefield, where he retired, was one of his favourite places – he made many trips to Die Hel, loved the Karoo where he was born, and spent much time in Upington and the Kalahari (he was in the Citizen Force) where he attended Camps and Officer’s Courses for a number of years during which time he was awarded the John Chard Medal for good service.  He was appointed Kommandant (Colonel) of the Regiment but due to his work in the Department and the distances involved he felt he was unable to give of his best and reluctantly resigned from the Regiment.

Caring, passionate and hardworking

He embraced technology long before it became popular and was way ahead of his time in many things.  Aerosol sprays were a no-no in our home, microwaves were not very warmly welcomed and industrial pollution and conserving energy were often topics of conversation.  He had a wide range of interests:  classical music, photography, astronomy, politics, history, Biblical and religious teachings.   He had a well-researched opinion about most subjects that mattered - his own opinions were based on sound principles after in-depth research and soul searching.  He wrote numerous papers on his findings and subsequent interpretations which were generally unconventional but justified.   He hated injustice and corruption but did research before passing judgment.

He was incredibly hardworking, disciplined, dedicated, and passionate with a keen senses of humour. He was a philanthropist and supported charities and folk who were in need.   He supported his two sisters for the past thirty years and was always there for them.  He valued and cared for friends and family and desperately loved us his children.

He was a devoted husband and father – he loved my mother and always treated her with the utmost respect.  A wonderful example of love and marriage.  He was a good man – in fact a great man who was a fantastic role model for us and those with whom he came in contact.

He sacrificed much for the benefit of others and never asked for recognition or anything in return.  He has set the bar very high for us and his example for our lives will be sorely missed. Be assured Dad, we will look after Mom.  We will always love and cherish you Dad and strive to make you proud of us.  You have left a huge gap in our lives.”

Eastern Cape SABI member, consummate professional

SABI vice-president Tony Ewels, also shared some of his memories recently about Prof Radford,
Says Tony: “I met Mick Radford in the early Eighties, through the business ties that the company that I worked for at the time, had with the University of Fort Hare, where he was a professor in Mathematics.

“I got to know him on a personal level after joining SABI in 1986, where he was a regular attendee at SABI meetings, until his retirement from the University and subsequent departure for the Southern Cape, from where he made the effort to attend the odd meeting that was close to his area.

“Mick Radford was a typical professional old school academic in his demeanour and in his approach to life as well as irrigation. His mathematical background left most of us lesser mortals in awe once he started expanding on the various formulae and equations that our predecessors of his standing, developed for use in our industry. He did not suffer fools gladly and wouldn’t hesitate to speak his mind, but he was always courteous and respectful.

“He liked nothing better in his spare time than to set up field trials on a small scale, to test the various manufacturers’ claims of performance and uniformity, and then reporting back to SABI on his findings, whether agreeable or not, in great detail.

“He was a consummate professional and I am sure that he is engaged in many a technical discussion with all the learned and like-minded persons that have left us.”

RIP Mick Radford. Our condolences are extended to Prof Radford’s family
and friends.



Hans Tank
Mentor vir baie Mense, Stigterslede
‘n Groot Gees

Deur Chris Venter, SABI Wes-Kaap

Dit is met ‘n swaar hart wat ons afskeid neem van Hans Tank, een van die stigterslede van SABI.

Hans het in die middel sestigerjare by WM Spilhaus op Worcestertak begin werk en is later na hoofkantoor in Parow oorgeplaas in 1972.

Dit was ook omtrent dieselfde tyd dat André Brink van destydse Departement van Waterwese begin praat het van ‘n professionele oorkoepelende organisasie vir die beproeiingsberoep in Suid-Afrika.

Ek onthou goed hoe ‘n groepie manne soos Hans Tank, James Keevy, Bill Dominee, André Brink, John Ekhard en andere begin het met die “pas en sny” van die organisasie genaamd “SABI”.

Die eerste opleiding was gedoen by Roodeplaatdam en destyds het Spilhaus vier manne gestuur na die eerste kursus toe in 1975. Die manne was Hans Tank, Phil de Jager, Bruce McIvor en Johnny Bam.
Daar was die riglyne vir SABI neergelê.

Die tweede kursus was bygewoon deur Chris Venter en Ben Costerus van WM Spilhaus & Kie in 1976, ook by Roodeplaatdam. Die kursus het bestaan uit twee tydperke van twee weke elk met intensiewe onderrig by Roodeplaatdam en vir die vyf maande tussen in was daar praktiese take wat gedurende werktyd voltooi moes word alvorens ‘n sertifikaat uitgereik is.

Hans het seker gemaak dat SABI norme streng by Spilhaus gevolg word en onder sy vaandel is geen stelsel goedgekeur as SABI se reëls nie gevolg is nie.

Die vorms wat hy opgestel het, en wat later deur SABI aanvaar is, word tot vandag toe nog gebruik deur mense wat onder sy mentorskap opgelei is.

In die Wes-Kaap vermoed ek, is die oorgrote meerderheid van besproeiingstegnici deur Hans Tank se opleiding.

Hans is 05h00 onverwags oorlede op 25 Februarie 2015. Hy word oorleef deur sy vrou Annelise, dogter Hanelore en seun in Duitsland, Carl Heinz en kleinkinders.

Hierdie groot gees gaan ons mis.

SABI stuur ons diep sympatie en meegevoel aan Hans Tank se familie en vriende.
RIP Hans

Don’t forget to celebrate South African National Water Week!
16-22 March

A national awareness week campaign by the Department of Water and Sanitation.  It serves as a powerful campaign mechanism re-iterating the value of water, the need for sustainable management of this scarce resource and the role water plays in eradicating poverty and under-development in South Africa.


SABI Website

Please visit the SABI website on www.sabi.co.za to catch up on the news, information and career information, we do advertise vacancies and other updates from time to time from the world of irrigation and water.


SABI, www.sabi.co.za and 021 850 8220