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ProGro

Overview 

Over the past decade nothing dramatic has happened around fertilization programs and fertilization norms in South Africa and Africa, nor in large parts of the rest of the world.

The main focus has been largely on only three Macro nutrients: Nitrogen, phosphate and potassium and some micro elements. There was never really a focus on soil microbiology and very little focus on soil conservation.

The focus on the production of quality, nutrient-dense food wasn't an important goal.

ProGro is a farm enrichment program for the producer unlocking his potential with the main focus to improve profitability.

A few years back, farming was seen as chemically dependent agriculture with high input costs and high risks. The farmer was faced with many decisions such as:

  • What fertilizer to use
  • How much to use
  • The best type of seed
  • Planting date
  • Cultivation practices
  • Weeding
  • Pest management
  • Marketing of produce

This resulted in many different people coming onto the farm and advising the producer with the result of the producer having to amalgamate all these multi disciplines into a consolidated decision to manage the enterprise better.

The Profert Group, since 2008, has been concentrating on a shift in focus away from mass commodity fertilization to a scientific, biologically sustainable model of soil rehabilitation.

With this in mind the company has focused on enlarging the plant nutrient offer in the product basket, in particular, the fertilizer coating technology to enhance the efficiency of applied fertilizers.

Profert has also conducted workshops and extensive research to understand how farming practices such as soil cultivation, crop rotation, residue management, and animal factors of its client base can influence and increase the efficiency of applied nutrients.

Since ProGro's inception in 2010, amongst the many improvements found; fertilizer efficiency improves in direct proportion to improved root development once soil PH and critical plant nutrient levels have been obtained, minimum tillage practices prevent soil loss in heavy rain fall and retain moisture in drier times, and improved profitability for farmers that use the produce marketing channels offered by Vry Staat Mielies(Free State Maize), which is a subsidiary of Profert Holdings.

ProGro is about synergy. It is the synchronisation of energy. Profert Holdings wants to work with the producer to unlock his potential. Where the producer performs his daily tasks Profert Holdings can support him to collect data, process the data, and compare data to determine the effectiveness of his production process.

ProGro has access to agricultural economists to assist producers in financial management both on the balance sheet and cash flow projections.

The ProGro team has sufficient confidence in its ability to mitigate production risk and enhance agricultural yields that they are prepared to offer a first loss guarantee to financiers undertaking the finance of producers who commit themselves to the ProGro program over a five year period. ProGro is not a quick solution, it presents a sustainable long term solution for the serious producer.

The ProGro farm enrichment program is a complete solution package, delivering top agricultural knowledge, business experience and technical service excellence.

ProGro and the producer work together to find opportunities to increase efficiency and ensure long term sustainability and to break barriers and pave new paths and together they can achieve more.

Unique Approach to Farming 

With the success of the Black Urea series of granular fertilizer Profert learnt that to get the best from plants you need to look at the soil nutrition framework, especially soil microbiology, to get a balanced nutritional programme.

Profert has worked hard on this programme over the past few years and it developed into a comprehensive multi-dimensional discipline where they evaluate the total production process and get involved with the producer from soil nutrition and soil preparation to the marketing of the crop.

The ProGro program is:

  • A structured systematic decision-making process.
  • A computer based full data capture information driven system.
  • A dynamic and sustainable system that offers long term sustainable solutions to the producer in order to achieve a more efficient way of increasing productivity and higher profits.
  • A sustainable system with measurable targets and one of the most important factors is long term profitability.
  • A joint venture between the producer and ProGro where the producer is not dictated to, but is rather, a mutual agreement process working towards a common goal.

The end result of ProGro is a producer with a stronger balance sheet with a greater net asset value.

The ProGro computer program is used to process the data we collected, via our Ipad applications, and to manage it. We use the data to monitor the progress of the ProGro program to limit the risk during the production process.

Together with this comes the ProGro Audit(Monitoring application), which involves a point system for the producer. He uses this to benchmark his enterprise in terms of ProGro principles to see where his efficiency levels stand in comparison to peers or fellow producers in the same region.

The programme comprises the following elements: a basic comprehensive audit of farm operations (Soil, climate, crops, equipment, Financial & marketing). This Audit can be done on the farm, with any grower. Data is captured and analysed to determine the weakest link in the production system, a team of experts make a recommendation to address the weakest link, for example, if soil health was identified as the weakest link, it is comprehensively analysed and a fertilization program is worked out but what is also included and is pivotal to ProGro is forward strategic planning and relationship building.

ProGro Your Farm

There are certain essential components to the ProGro programme.

Soil analysis: Profert has done extensive research in the various soil analysis techniques available to us in SA and the world and has made a decision to use a specific analysis that is superior and will give a comprehensive evaluation of the soil with specific reference to biological farming.

Profert is also forming partnerships with various research institutions all over Southern Africa such as NWU to do work on biological products in combination with inorganic fertilizers so that the most cost effective recommendations can be done. A computer-based programme has been written to facilitate this.

Resource evaluation and soil mapping: This precision farming aspect is handled by Technifarm, which is a full affiliate of Profert and has the capacity to do precision soil mapping and remote crop monitoring by on-going, on farm, aerial and satellite monitoring so that adjustments can be made in season to, for example, the fertilization programme.

Bio tillage practice: Bio tillage practice has the primary objective of conserving the organic material and beneficial biological activity of the soil and to minimise fuel usage used in soil tillage.

Fertiliser, pathogen and pest control policy: The use of soft and biologically friendly products in the fertilizer, pathogen and pest control on the farm is encouraged with the specific objective of preventing damage to the eco system by indirect damage to the various food webs and nutrient status to the soil and water.

Residue Management: Residue management is an essential part of the programme and is designed to return nutrients and carbon to the soil with minimum loss. This is to encourage the biological activity in the soil and to prevent wind and water erosion.

The animal factor: There is comprehensive evidence that farms that have animals as an essential component in the cropping system are generally more profitable and have better soil health because of the improved soil environment under grazed pastures. This diversification also allows the farmer to spread risk and is an essential component of the ProGro system.

ProGro Ipad Applications: 

ProGro makes use of three Ipad/android based applications that the agents will use to run the system and evaluate the producers farm.

Monitor application:

This is a data capturing application where custom questionnaires can be made per agent per region depending on crop type or whatever data the agent wants to monitor over the course of the growing season. The data is sent to a central data base and reports are generated which can be presented to the farmer. The application has the ability to log GPS coordinates and dates, take photos, monitor ground water and biological statuses, the possibilities are endless and it is up to the Profert Regional managers and agents to decide what they want to monitor in their area and how often.

Farm Field application:

This is a map viewing application where the agents can present the farmers with the soil nutrient maps of the farm. The agent will take soil samples which get analyzed at a laboratory and then these values are placed onto a map. The maps can show anything from pH levels, to N, P, and K and everything in-between at the push of a button. It has never been easier to view the soil nutrient levels on your farm.

Recommendation application:

This is an application that makes custom fertilizer recommendations for a farmer. It makes use of hardcore scientific soil sample data to generate a recommendation. The samples get loaded to the system and all the agent needs to do is load the crop type and area he is in and the application will do the rest. The application also takes into account that not all crops in all regions are the same and norms are set per crop per region per soil type. The fact that the application does this makes it one of the most powerful tools an agent has had in his pocket to date.