Plants grown in a well balanced environment will be healthier, stronger and more resilient against pest and disease attack. As a consequence they also require less fertilizer and chemicals, and are able to take up and retain minerals more efficiently. So an understanding of how you can keep this complex natural interface in a good balance, is important for the successful management of plants and soils in any situation.
Like it or not the plants we manage on a daily basis are firmly attached to nature, this is despite that fact that they may be considered as the latest and greatest cultivar that has emanated form a world class breeding program. In fact all the species we use have evolved over millions of years in the presence of, and are reliant upon, a team of beneficial organisms that help feed and protect the plant. This is how trees deep in native forests which have never seen human activity, let alone been impacted by our modern fertilizers or chemicals, can grow and produce tonnes of plant material each and every year.
In nature, plants feed, encourage and nurture soil organisms via the process of photosynthesis (the most important process on the planet) during photosynthesis plants use the suns' energy to produce carbohydrates (sugars) in the leaf, this is then transferred throughout the plant to fuel many of the plants physiological functions. Half of the sugars transferred from the leaf are directed to the roots, to feed and activate root growth, and about half of what is consigned to the roots is expelled into the soil to feed and encourage soil microbes.
There are strong similarities across plant based industries, but in some, such as those involved in turf and amenity pursuits, the natural processes that plants are desperately trying to continue, can be severely impacted by the very unnatural management imposed on them. These practices include being introduced into low fertility soils, the constant removal of leaf material (the sugar factory) and the fairly constant impact from chemicals and fertilizers.
As a consequence, the trend across most commercial plant based enterprises is for increasing pest and disease pressure and a strong reliance on chemicals to control them, despite that fact that there has never been more products available to treat the effects of pests and disease. The problem however, is that in the quest to find products to rectify or minimise the effects of pests and disease, we are inadvertently focused our efforts on treating symptoms rather than causes - in reality we need to do both.
How do we treat the causes? To a large extent it's a question of getting the natural interface between the soil and plant functioning properly. When it is functioning well and plants are encouraging their helpers, these helpers will in turn forage for plant food, build an Oxygen rich environment around the roots, provide a natural defensive network and a physical environment that pathogens simply don't like.
For the process of photosynthesis to function at its optimum there are a number of nutritional drivers in the plant which need to be monitored and adjusted if necessary, and the good news is that we now have techniques available to measure, monitor and adjust the process via some relatively simple diagnostic procedures.
Of course we can't ignore the need to treat an infestation from pests or disease, but equally we shouldn't ignore the need to deal with its cause. The best approach is to treat the symptoms (particularly if they are causing economic threat), this should alleviate the symptoms and any immediate pressure, but at the same time we should also begin investigating and treating the causal issues. This way you can achieve long term benefit and a genuine reduction in severity and reoccurrence.
We Need Balance - It's Not About One Approach Or The Other
Our range of organic & biologically based products and unique diagnostic services are designed to help identify and address the cause of soil or plant based management issues, and to build and restore biological and mineral balance in both the soil and the plant.
Improving plant and soil balance will also ensure you get the maximum value from fertilizer additions, (an issue of increasing importance with the cost of most chemically based inputs linked to diminishing oil reserves). In fact there has never been a better time to implement management strategies that ensure both plants and soils are well balanced, capable of adapting to climatic change and able to use artificial fertilizers and chemical inputs as efficiently as possible.
Our Changing Soils
Rebuilding Soil Balance
Defending Against Pests & Disease