Stacey and Simon Miller are dairy farmers on Sherwood Farm in the Kamberg area of KwaZulu-Natal. Stacey, who is a veterinary nurse, is passionate about animal health and wellbeing. Simon, who is a dairy farmer, is passionate about soil health.

This combination has led them to pursue a dairy farming system that is healthy, resilient, and sustainable; and RealIPM has been a part of that journey. The motto of Sherwood Farm is healthy soil = healthy pasture = healthy cows = healthy milk.

Simon, after researching Nicole Masters’ work and successfully completing Dr. Elaine Igham’s Soil Food Web Foundation Course, has managed to drastically reduce inorganic fertilizer inputs by promoting a diverse community of soil organisms that are able to feed the plants. The soil organisms capture, cycle, and mineralize nutrients to support plant growth.

To promote soil organisms, Simon has used a combination of good quality compost and products like SeaBrix™, Molasses, and Guanoboost, which feed the soil organism. He has also used products such as MicroZ, RealCal, and Triple Ten™ to feed the plant, which in turn feed the soil organisms.

Stacey and Simon spent two years working in the South Island of New Zealand; Stacey as a senior veterinary nurse, and Simon as an assistant dairy manager. During this time, Simon learned about fodder beets and how they were grown for winter grazing.

After nine trials, with assistance from Tyrone Reynolds (CropMark Seeds), Simon grew his first successful fodder beet crop here in South Africa.

However, he wasn’t happy using conventional herbicides and pesticides to grow the fodder beets because they destroyed his soil biology, so he set out to find alternatives.

Simon then contacted Ross Tarr from RealIPM to find a more environmentally friendly solution to protect and grow his crop. Ross recommended products like Ferramol, an innovative organic molluscicide, Real Metarhizium 69, a bio-pesticide that doesn’t harm beneficial insects, and foliar feeds such as MicroZ and Seabrix™, that promote plant health and reduce insect damage.

Stacey has adapted her animal health program to work with biology on the farm as far as possible. For example, Stacey no longer dips the milking cows to control ticks, but instead feeds garlic in mineral pellets. Not only have there not been any tick-borne related deaths in the milking cows since implementing this, but the dung beetle population on the farm has increased noticeably, further assisting with the nutrient cycling process.

All these incremental, beneficial, sustainable changes speak to Stacey and Simon’s clear and focused vision for improved soil health, and their integrated farming practices will help to reduce chemical input and future proof their farm in our changing climatic conditions.

RealIPM looks forward to walking this road with Stacey and Simon and to witnessing their ongoing improvements to their farm.

To find out more about utilizing integrated farming practices contact Steve Woolley-Kufal on +27 (0) 82 572 3637 or