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Meet the Cultivating Carbon team

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Dr Tony Knowles

Systems Ecologist

Dr Tony Knowles specialises in the land-use aspects of global change, providing advice on both climate change mitigation and adaptation measures. Past and current clients include government, development agencies, and private-sector mining, forestry and agriculture corporations. Specialist focus areas include the development of carbon revenue opportunities through their full life-cycle - from early feasibility assessments to the design of activities, implementation, and the creation of monitoring and verification processes. Tony played a leading role in the South African National Carbon Stock Assessment, subsequent strategic frameworks and led the early development of climate change responses within South Africa’s Fruit and Wine Sector. He has been the principal advisor on projects located in South Africa, Zambia, Tanzania, Uganda and the eastern DRC and was elected as a member of the Gold Standard’s Technical Advisory Board where he is tasked with the reviewing projects and the development of monitoring standards.

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Dr Hendrik Smith

Soil Scientist

Dr Hendrik Smith started his career in 1993 as soil scientist at the South African Agricultural Research Council (ARC). Since 1997 he was involved in a number of Landcare projects in the ARC for almost 15 years, primarily working on Conservation Agriculture (CA) amongst smallholders in SA. In 2006 he completed his PhD in Sustainable Agriculture at the University of the Free State, developing a model to research and encourage the adoption of CA by farmers. From 2006 to 2012 he fulfilled the role of programme manager at the ARC. Since 2013 he was appointed as the CA Facilitator (in Grain SA) with the responsibility to research and develop CA among commercial and smallholder grain producers in South Africa. This programme is supported by The Maize Trust, and is currently being implemented by Asset Research.

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Dr Stuart Christie


Dr Stuart Christie, an associate of CIRRUS, has more than 30 years of global experience and wide-ranging knowledge in the forestry, agriculture and agribusiness and natural resources sectors.  In the carbon sector, Stuart has done extensive work on South Africa’s carbon tax, is a co-author of South Africa’s Agriculture, Forestry and Other Land Use climate mitigation strategic framework as well as the development of carbon projects and the securitisation of carbon in agriculture and forestry projects in a range of countries including South Africa, Gabon, Kenya and Peru.

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Andrew Ardington

Agricultural Economist

Andrew Ardington grew up on a sugar cane and cattle farm in KwaZulu-Natal.  Ahead of its time, the farm began integrating sugar farming with cover crops and cattle in the 1970s. Andrew obtained his BSc degree in Agricultural Economics from the University of KwaZulu-Natal. In 1994 he commenced his career in the tourism industry, worked as game ranger at Mala Mala Game Reserve, advancing his love and understanding of nature and its systems. In 2016, Andrew once again got involved in cattle farming and this rekindled his interest in agriculture that works 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 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.

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Fritz Otto


Fritz Otto is a regenerative orientated agronomist across various disciplines in the South African agricultural landscape, consulting on grain, fruit, crops and mixed farming operations in various climate zones and provide specialist products to CA/RA farmers. The compilation of Water Quality Management Reports for waste- and wastewater designation for the Department of Forestry and Water affairs and various related services, were provided as a private consultant. He is actively involved in agri-based project management in South Africa and Zimbabwe. He is a Trustee of Integra Trust and director of Integra Link.

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Prof James Blignaut

Environmental Resource Economist

Prof James Blignaut is an environmental resource economist focussing on the economics of restoration, and the restoration of economics.  He is member of the scientific panel of the World Farmers’ Organisation, editor of the journal Ecological Economics, professor extraordinaire attached to the SPL of the Stellenbosch University and honorary research associate of SAEON.  He is also director of ASSET Research, Restore Africa Fund manager, trustee of Integra Trust, and is the originator of ReStory.

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Nic van Schalkwyk

Investment Manager

Nic van Schalkwyk is a Chartered Accountant (SA) and Chartered Financial Analyst charter holder. He has close to 20 years of financial services sector experience, specifically in investment management, corporate finance and assurance services. Nic is co-founder and director of both Integrity Asset Management and Wauko. He also serves as director of Cultivating Carbon, RAFFs RAFFM.

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Dr Jaap Knot


Dr Jaap Knot has extensive practical experience in conservation agriculture, plant breeding, dairy and (cover) cropping gained in the Netherlands, New Zealand, Lesotho and South Africa.  He holds a PhD in Conservation Agriculture, with research focused in the eastern Free State that included soil quality assessments, agricultural economics and social aspects related to no-till adoption and innovation uptake.  Jaap currently facilitates conservation agriculture and soil monitoring in the CA Farmer Innovation Programme in the Eastern Free State and Mpumalanga highveld and has worked with the Growing Nations’ Trust, the leading agency promoting CA in Lesotho. As a farmer he also implements CA activities including intercropping and summer cover crop mixes for grazing on his farm near Ladybrand. Jaap has experience in working with commercial farmers and has the facilitation skills to coordinate the CA technology transfer, on-farm research, development and implementation initiatives.

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Anika de Beer

Meteorologist & ESG Analyst

Anika de Beer is a qualified meteorologist, also fulfilling the role of Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) analyst at Restore Africa Funds. Aside from climate change adaptation and mitigation, her focus is on generating positive social and environmental impacts through investments in natural restoration.

Besides in-depth carbon expertise, the Cultivating Carbon team builds upon decades of experience in conservation agriculture projects.  Close relationships have been developed with farmers through the "Conservation agriculture farmer innovation project" supported by the Maize Trust over the past decade and currently implemented by Asset Research.

Cultivating Carbon operates in proud association with:

Restore Africa Funds logo
Cirrus Group logo
Wauko logo
Integra logo
Integrity Asset Management logo
Asset Research logo
4 Sight logo
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