Interview with Mark Hutton

Mark Hutton, Madumbi Key Account Manager
for KZN and Rest of Africa, shares his views on
the use of biologicals to optimise soil health

Mark’s approach to soil health is completely hands on and as a self-taught academic, his understanding and product research is extensive.

Madumbi asked Mark why he believes a sustainable approach is the way to go?

Mark: Quite simply, farmers are not achieving the same results and yields as they were a few years ago.

Soil health is poor in a lot of areas, climates are changing and water resources are scarce, as such, we need to embrace a new approach. I am a firm believer in Madumbi’s Root Health program. There is nothing more important than a living foundation with stability and depth.

Farmers have always seen themselves as crop and/or livestock producers, but my view is very different. Farmers are in reality soil web and soil organism farmers.

Farmers that value their soil resources (fungi, bacteria, carbon, earthworms etc) are ensuring they rebuild the soil to optimum levels and will be rewarded with enhanced production and yields. They are also ensuring the children of tomorrow will be able to farm sustainably.

I have achieved and seen phenomenal results in almost all sectors of my regions. Sharing  these successes with farmers makes the  decision to incorporate biologicals into their  programs much easier.

In my view, the Root Health program works because it reduces stress. Stress includes  adverse environmental conditions, heat, drought and cold, as well as disease or infection caused by pathogens and pests. Strong, healthy plants are better equipped to  tolerate stress factors, freeing them up to focus their energy on growth.

The Root Health program combines 4  excellent products – Eco-T (beneficial fungi),  RhizoVital (beneficial bacteria) and V12  Initiate ensure the soil and plant have the vital building blocks needed for plants to get  off to a good start. Eco-T promotes root growth and is an essential addition to crops  where Phytophthora is a threat. We have avo orchards in KZN where established diseased trees are being rejuvenated and increased root mass is clearly visible.

Fig. 1 Macadamia root development, with and without the Madumbi Root Health Program
Fig. 2 Visibly increased surface root growth  beneath avocado trees treated with the root health program

“The plants capacity to be resilient and resist the effects of disease, pest and environmental stress depends heavily on its underlying soil and root health.”

AgriSil the 4th product in the Root Health program, is in my opinion one of Madumbi’s greatest products. AgriSil (a highly concentrated potassium silicate) strengthens the cell wall, equipping the plant to tolerate stress better.

We’ve pulled row crops through severe frosts with AgriSil, which allows farmers to potentially achieve yields earlier or later in the season with economical benefits.

Silica supplementation has also been shown to have benefits in suppressing pests and diseases and we have seen success in trials with AgriSil on tree crops.

I believe this product has a significant future in our program.

In conclusion, when dealing with challenges, you need to research them, fully understand them and know your options so you are able to find the weak links and mitigate them with an integrated program – Mark Hutton

Fig. 3 Frost damage on lettuce, KZN Midlands 2018. AgriSil treated plants recovered fully in comparison to untreated

3 FAQ’s on building biologicals into your program

Q: Can I tank mix?
A: We have done compatibility test on many products, so a key account manager will be able to advise on this issue.

Q: Do I need special equipment?
A: Your standard spray equipment will be sufficient.

Q: Does the product need to be refrigerated?
A: All our living products need to be refrigerated to ensure you get the shelf life