Herman Enslin is not only a realIPM Technical Representative, he is also a farmer and part of the Riemland Study Group. Based in the Eastern Free State, Herman grew up on his family farm in Petrus Steyn, which he now farms.

Herman explains that they had been planting potatoes for approximately thirty years on the farm and the soil degradation was at its peak approximately 10 years ago. Potatoes require a number of nematicides, insecticides and fungicides, ploughing and ripping. Herman describes the land he saw then as ‘dead’; and it showed him, conventional farming was unsustainable. The input costs had increased, the mechanical upkeep costs of the machinery were becoming worse, and the yield wasn’t increasing to match these costs; plus the state of his farm’s soil was very poor – dust storms, erosions and ruts. Herman believed there had to be a better way.

Herman started watching Ray Archuleta’s and Gabe Brown’s YouTube videos and this philosophy began to change his whole perspective on farming. Herman recalls when Ray said, “If you see a tilled field, that field is naked, thirsty and running a fever! You need to cover the soil with a cover crop with little to no soil disturbance!” Herman knew that he had to try this approach. And that’s exactly what he did. He began by not tilling his fields. His soybean yield doubled in the first year on no till and no fertilizer, but his maize was down two tons/ha compared to the surrounding average. This meant he needed to learn more about regenerative farming in order to farm sustainably.

Herman explains that he is constantly trying to improve his knowledge and he began experimenting with a variety of bio products as seed treatments and as in furrow applications. He also decided he wanted to start reducing his fertilizer input and therefore decided to do a Master Class in 2017 run by Graeme Sait from Australia, on regenerative farming practices. It was there that Herman met Jean Kuiper, the founder of realIPM South Africa and Justin Platt the founder of Zylem.

It was in this fertile environment that Herman learnt that to farm successfully, he needed to ensure his soil microbes were looked after. At that point in time, his soil organic matter was less than 1% so Herman began planting cover crops, and using biologicals and biostimulants – the continuous, active growth of plants in the soil and alternating cover crops offered a boom of microbial life. By looking after the soil, Herman now knows that his plants are supported and given the best start in life.

Herman is currently reducing his herbicide and insecticide inputs and stopped using chemical fungicides completely about 10 years ago. He believes that if you put a seed in the soil and have a ‘seed army’ (in other words a healthy microbial environment), then you can use biological and biostimulant seed treatments combined with foliar sprays of biostimulants. “Your plants end up with a higher Brix and improved immunity as well as better stress tolerance. Besides, too much fertilizer stops the natural processes between plant and microbes, derailing the natural symbiotic process” explains Herman.

Herman eventually joined realIPM in 2019 to continue his regenerative farming journey, supplement his growing farm and to share his progress with his surrounding farmers. Herman believes that if he can change course towards a more sustainable farming lifestyle, then why shouldn’t anyone else?

Herman is a fan of: Real Bacillus, Real Trichoderma, PopUp and Humates.

Contact realIPM to meet Herman in person - it will be worth it!