Integra Link

 

Integra Link

As part of seeking to advance regenerative agriculture and in executing this vision, Integra Trust developed a five-tier iScore rating system (trademark registration pending) to encourage producers towards the accelerated uptake and adaptation of regenerative agriculture.  In addition, the rating system aims to give due recognition and rewards for efforts taken towards the prudent and regenerative management of agricultural lands by producers.  Concurrently, the system will assess and inform participating consumers about the degree of sustainability and the regenerative nature of the agricultural practices followed by producers. 

The iScore, which is Integra Trust’s property, is therefore a measure of the extent to which a farming operation applies regenerative principles, based on the outcome of a farm audit.  Integra Trust is committed to independent verification and farm audits will be conducted by a duly appointed auditor

This tool will use when onboarding farmers and when guiding them to be more regenerative, gradually pushing them along the five different levels of the iScore scale.  Unlike other protocols the iScore is inclusionary rather than exclusionary, the aim is to get farms onto the scale and push them along the scale rather than an all or nothing approach which functions as a major barrier.  All participating farmers will therefore receive an iScore.  The iScore is also the tool that iFood will use when placing products on their electronic platform and that purchasers will be able to use when buying from the platform.

 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. Since 2013 he is the Conservation Agriculture facilitator at Grain SA https://www.grainsa.co.za/grain-research/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:

 Shepherds of the soil (a few examples are):

  • 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.

  • Gavin Olsen: Integra Link Director

Gavin is a trained agronomist with a BSc in Agriculture from Atlantic University. He started his studies in Geology initially at Stellenbosch University but later found his passion in agriculture and started working under Dr PJ Maree at the Welgevallen Greenhouse section. Gavin is also a South African Irrigation Institute Designer and has completed his AVCASA in early 2003. He initially was a commercial vegetable and hydroponics farmer in Malmesbury and established a brand of Chilli sauces and products from his farming production.He gained valuable experience in understanding the environment in which plants can thrive when grown in a sustainable manner.

He suffered a setback in 1999 with a debilitating illness and started to focus on helping other farmers with some of his experience. Gavin then became Technical Manager for Agro-K of USA and travelled the globe focusing on only organic production systems. He then spent some time working with precision technologies with a Dutch company Dacom of which he now is a shareholder of the Africa Division Crop Systems.Gavin then spent a few years in the Agro-chemical industry and after this period saw that the future lies with a soil up approach and how effective inputs can be managed and how quickly negative actions or inputs must be removed.  In 2004 he started a company specialising in rehabilitating soils and today is Operations Director of the Radicle Group which operates all across Sub Saharan Africa with a the complete integrated approach to agriculture. He was one of the first agronomists to break away from mainstream conventional farming and promote Biological Farming. Gavin is shareholder and director of several companies manufacturing and exporting agricultural technologies worldwide. He has also gained vast experience in composting, recycling, and waste management.

  He specializes in many areas of agriculture from greenhouse production and management to open field, tropical and subtropical crops where he has gained vast knowledge and practical experience in overcoming problems by means of analysis and a conservative approach to getting farms back on track. He manufactures Biological Soil Probiotics as well as BioPesticides and BioFungicides. He represents many multinational manufacturers of unique Biological solutions.

  • 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.

  • Cobus Roode: Integra Trust Trustee,  Integra Food and Integra Link Director

Cobus qualified as a Soil Scientist and Plant Nutritionist with an Honours degree from the University of Pretoria.  In 1993 he joined an independent financial planning practice, De Wet De Villiers Financial Services CC, in Rustenburg in the North West Province.  He further qualified himself and obtained an Honours degree in financial planning specialising in individual and corporate health care and consulting in 2000.

Cobus has 26 years active service and experience in corporate and individual financial planning, and for the last 13 years he has his own Financial Services Practice.  He also received an International Certified Financial Planning (CFP) qualification.  Cobus and his enterprise served the major Platinum producers in South Africa with a range of products, including the design, implementation and maintenance of their Corporate Pension and Provident and Healthcare Schemes.  A special focus was to develop and introduce custom designed financial products and a service delivery mechanism to Black Mineworkers who were never exposed to quality and accredited financial products and services.

Cobus integrates his two passions, that of being a soil scientist and that of being a financial planner, by being active in no-till, conservation and regenerative agriculture with a special emphasis on training and establishing emerging farmers to become financially independent, commercial farmers.