Regenerative ideas for farming success – the answer lies in the soil.
iLink facilitates farm restoration and farm viability by promoting the science, business and practice of Regenerative Agriculture in southern Africa. This is done through building awareness, knowledge sharing, capacity building, and the creation of regenerative communities.
Our philosophy and core values:
- By healing the land, people are healed.
- We collaborate, not compete, with both people and nature alike.
- Minimise external inputs, maximise profits.
- We treasure life and diversity, from the soil up.
- Healthy soils produce nutritious food.
- Serving with integrity.
What do we do best?
- Facilitate the transition of agriculture from conventional production systems to climate-smart conservation and regenerative systems.
- Initiate regenerative farming education.
- Co-ordinate agricultural projects.
- Support large and small farmers across most of the agro-ecological zones of Southern Africa.
- Influenced on-farm decision-making.
- Reinvigorating the soil of cumulatively more than 200 000 ha over the past decade with various crop types, livestock and related management practices.
- Influenced on-farm decision-making on more than a million ha through farmer days, farmer study groups and training.
- Working knowledge with respect to most grain, horticultural crops and livestock.
Who Are We?
Dr Hendrik Smith: Integra Trust Trustee, Integra Link Director and Lead Scientist of Integra
Hendrik is a soil scientist with a PhD in Sustainable Agriculture obtained from the University of the Free State in 2006. The focus of his PhD was on the development of a model to research and develop conservation agriculture among farmers. Between 2013 and 2020 he was the Conservation Agriculture facilitator at Grain SA. From 2020 onwards he has been the project leader of the conservation agriculture farmer innovation programme of ASSET Research (https://assetresearch.org.za/conservation-agriculture/). His responsibilities include the coordination and facilitation of conservation agriculture research and development projects implemented among all grain producers in South Africa; this programme is supported by The Maize and Winter Cereal Trusts.
Hendrik started his career in 1993 as a soil scientist at the Agricultural Research Council, the Institute for Soil, Climate and Water (ARC-ISCW). In 1997 he became involved in land restoration through a number of Landcare projects, primarily aiming to research and develop Conservation Agriculture among smallholders in, inter-alia, the Limpopo, Eastern Cape, Mpumalanga, Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal provinces.
Hendrik is also responsible for the development of awareness and training material with respect to conservation agriculture, such as:
Conservation agriculture for and in Africa:
- Part 1: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QxrVxd4IjRI&feature=emb_title
- Part 2: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ynWSGdEBGRU
- Part 3: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=314u14ELHMk
Shepherds of the soil (a few examples are):
- Smallholder farmers: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6wGBuReNSKc
- Danie Slabbert: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LMXky4uO7no
- Izak Dreyer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rEwDmk8UhQ8
- Bertie Coetzee: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-Dk4srcWUL4
S12EP05 – Herlewingslandbou – Boeredae (Social) S12EP06 – Herlewingslandbou – Geskiedenis van Bewaringslandbou (Social)
- S12EP07 – Herlewingslandbou (Social)
Other conservation agriculture resources can be found on the ASSET Research website. ASSET Research also compiled a resource database with literature (both from peer-reviewed and grey sources) relating to conservation agriculture, which can be downloaded here.
- Fritz Otto: Integra Trust Trustee and Integra Link Director
Fritz has obtained his BSc degree in Agricultural Science from the University of Pretoria and is a certified agronomist. In 1992 he commenced farming both for himself and for various enterprises. He was an area business manager for Nestle Purina Petcare from 2000 to 2006. From 2007 onwards he acted as an independent consultant with respect to water quality and quantity management, a process that includes the recycling of wastewater for wine cellars and broiler houses. Fritz has since developed specialised knowledge with respect to the integrative use of organic waste, notably abattoir waste, in agricultural production units.
He currently consults on dry land, irrigation and fertigation of crops; this includes fertigation hardware management. Since 2008 he specialises in soil health management, an area of focus that involves soil minerals and soil biology. He thus focusses on, and has developed a deep foundational knowledge on plant nutrition (fertilizer and integrated biology), including the development of plant nutrition programs, the planning and lay-out thereof. This program includes the incorporation of microbial integrity and physical soil-structure management and involves the use of cover crops and regenerative tillage methods – also to reduce the need of on-farm chemical use.
Fritz’s experience covers grains: maize, soybeans, groundnuts, sunflower, wheat, canola; tree crops: citrus, peach, plum, apple, pecan, olive, avocado, veg: potato, melon, pumpkin, leafy varieties, ornamental flowers and table/wine grapes, blueberries as well as tropical crops such as sugarcane and macadamia nuts. In this capacity, he currently serves about 50 farmers and impacts approximately 100 000ha with his recommendations and manufactures biological prescription products across a variety of crops.
- Andrew Ardington: Integra Link Director
Andrew grew up on a sugar cane and cattle farm in KwaZulu Natal. The farm was unusual in that it began integrating sugar farming with cover crops and cattle in the 1970s (https://restory.co.za/2019/12/13/cranburn-farm-regenerative-sugar-farming/). Andrew obtained his BSc degree in Agricultural Economics from the University of KwaZulu-Natal. In 1994 he commenced his career in the tourism industry by becoming a game ranger at Mala Mala Game Reserve, advancing his love and understanding of nature and its systems. Having managed Mala Mala Game Reserve and Fugitives’ Drift Lodge he designed, built, and managed Three Tree Hill Lodge.
In 2009 Andrew co-founded Wetu, an app which helped the tourism industry digitise its content so that sales content could be aggregated, and web and mobile applications could be used to market and sell tourism experiences.
In 2016 Andrew once again got involved in cattle farming and this rekindled his interest in agriculture that worked with rather than against nature. Andrew became immersed in regenerative agriculture and the possibilities it presented regarding the healing of agricultural soils, planetary health, and human health. This ultimately resulted in him founding the Regenerative Agriculture Association of South Africa (https://regenagsa.org.za/) to advance regenerative agriculture in the region and the Regenerative Food Hub, an application to assist in the creation of a regenerative food chain via food clubs.