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Plant Health

Linus Pauling (b: 28/02/1901 - d: 19/08/1994)

He was considered as one of the most influential chemists of the 20th century and ranks among the most important scientists in history. 

During his illustrious career Linus Pauling made the discovery that:

“Every sickness, every disease, every ailment can be traced back to an organic mineral deficiency”.

As our food, nutrition, comes from the plants we eat or animals that eat the plants we produce, is it not incumbent of us as produces to do our upmost to produce foods that are not minerally deficient. It is the nutrient density, energy, of the plant and it’s fruit that determine it’s ultimate health, production, energy and therefore food value.

The source of energy for plant growth comes from two channels...

One is the atmosphere and the other is the soil.

Science has shown us that our plants require in varying amounts at least 64 minerals, not just NPK. Making these minerals available are the many billions of microbes that inhabit every gram of soil, but if the soil is lacking in any of these minerals regardless of how healthy our soil biology it can not be made available to the plant. It is not possible to have good plant health without good soil health and visa versa, the use of organic based fertilizers which will supply a balance of the total mineral requirement, as opposed to an incomplete inorganic synthetic chemical fertilizer, is the starting point.

Let’s recognise chemical agriculture for what it is! 

A solution is an action that removes the problem.

If I use a chemical do I ever get the problem again?

Continual use of chemicals is NOT removing the underlying problem?

 What is, and how do we address the underlying problem?

Maybe this underlying problem is balanced fertility!!

Science has regularly shown us that higher yielding crops have a greater capacity to set fruit/grain particularly in the middle and top, this fruit set and then fill is a result of sufficient carbohydrate production. The challenge for growers is to have the plants producing enough carbohydrate to retain and complete the filling to the top.

Continuing carbohydrate production relies on:-

  1. Optimum photosynthesis to maximise sugar production and the resultant organic acids, carbohydrates, proteins, amino acids, etc required for fruiting sites, setting and filling.
  2. Up to 75% of these photosynthetic products are transferred to the soil via the roots, these exudates contain principally sugar (carbon) the major food for biology and various organic acids which mobilise soil minerals and increase root growth. When plants are nutrient deficient the amounts of root exudates often increases and the composition of the exudates is altered. For example, under potassium deficiency in maize the amounts of exudates increases and the proportion of sugars to organic acids is shifted in favour of the organic acids (Kraffczyk et al 1984). The net result of this increased root exudates is reduced carbohydrates for vegetative growth or fruiting sites and retention of young fruits.

So once again we see the importance of having a viable balance of minerals continually available to the plant.

Sap testing provides an instant picture of carbohydrate production.  

Testing the plant sap brix (sugar) levels and pH are simple tests that you can carry out in the field, these will give you an instant picture of your plants health. These tests not only show you the relative balance of the nutrient levels but also indicate the level of production in the photosynthesis factory – the leaf. The higher the brix level the greater the mineral supply and balance resulting in higher production of photosynthetic compounds and more energy for growth and fruit production. Maintaining a brix level above 14% for 24hrs a day, will result in greater plant resistance to diseases and pests and the movement towards the plants maximum genetic potential of yield and quality.  

Improved Soil and Plant health results is improved returns.

Wheat in WA

A farmer, in the Narrogin area, commenced a soil health program in 2001, then 2004 was a very dry season with less than 5” of rain during the season. His crop was able to produce a yield of 1 bag per acre more for each inch of rain received when compared to his neighbours, though the yields were still low he did return a profit but his neighbours showed a loss. What were the reasons?

They were many but two that stood out were:-

  1. His moisture holding capacity was considerably higher due to improved soil biology populations and greater organic matter levels.
  2. Research in field has shown that the soil temperature at 2-6” in the aerobic zone, is on average 10oC lower in good biologically active healthy soils.

Zucchini Mid North Coast NSW 

Diseases attack crop – this half of crop was treated with synthetic fertilisers and chemicals

Disease controlled with a biological approach – This half was treated with organic mineral fertilisers and biologically complexed nutrients containing beneficial biology.

Forage crops in central NSW

In a lucerne crop grown in the NSW slopes and plains area during the 2002/3 season when plague locusts were wiping out neighbours crops, the swarms of locust were observed flying across his fields to other crops in the morning and back across during the evening and not landing in his crops. Even when all surrounding crops and pastures had been eaten out the only areas affected was a few metres in from the road sides, but 95% of the crop was unaffected.

This land owner had been following a soil health program designed for his soil for four years and had achieved constant brix levels above 14%, the crops were therefore healthy and not attractive to natures garbage collects, in this case locusts.

One of the indicators of a healthy plant, is the stems of the growing crop. If you have above 75% Solid stems (preferably 100%) you have achieved a healthy crop who’s brix would be above 14% and mostly resistant to pest and disease.

Increasing soil carbon and biology populations dramatically improves water holding capacity and growth

Inner row green manure crop planted 20th March on limited moisture, crop received no more rain photo taken 15th May.

Both rows had 50kg/ac of DAP at planting, row on right had 200kg/ac of Revitalise peat (87% carbon) and biological food applied at planting

Research by CSIRO identified Carbon, phosphorous and calcium as the elements that were most associated with financial success in an agricultural enterprise. Many past and current farming techniques mine the soils valuable carbon resource ultimately reducing future agricultural productivity.

Revitalise’s high Carbon content replenishes and restores soil organic carbon creating a highly active soil. Revitalise is an Australian sage peat containing 78.5% Organic carbon compounds including 23% Humic Acid & 13% Fulvic Acid + Macro and Micro nutrients.