Key balances help pollinators and biocontrol agents to do their job
Partner with nature
As partnering with nature is one of our key drivers, embracing the Plant Empowerment growing method is a natural step for Koppert Biological Systems and reaffirms our role in exploring and using the power of nature to find sustainable solutions for horticulture and agriculture worldwide.
Three key balances
For both Koppert and the Plant Empowerment growing method, the basis for optimal sustainable cultivation is plant health. In this concept, this is reflected in three key balances:
- Energy balance
- Assimilate balance
- Water balance
Much of Koppert’s expertise and its range of macro- and microbiological products and consultancy services are aimed at restoring and preserving these balances so that crops reach their optimal potential to produce quality yields.
Koppert and the energy balance
Mark van der Werf, consultant Plant Health at Koppert Biological Systems explains:‘The easiest way to show how Koppert is connected with the energy balance is illustrated by our Natupol bumblebee hives,’ Mark points out. ‘Koppert delivers pollination solutions over the whole world to help optimize pollination in a broad range of crops. In periods with high temperature and radiation, some growers will call us to say that the bumblebees are not doing their work. They claim there is something wrong with the hives. But if you understand more about the energy balance and the influence it has on other factors like pollination, the picture changes entirely. Plants always receive a certain amount of energy. In order to counter balance this “incoming” energy, the plant has two options: evaporate water or a raise in temperature. However, leaves can evaporate but flowers or fruits don’t have that option. The only thing they can do is raise the temperature to stay in balance. This means that the temperature in a flower can be 6 to 10 degrees higher than the rest of the plant. The pollen in the flower is a protein which falls apart above a certain temperature. So you see that when the temperature in the non-evaporative parts is not monitored and controlled, you will have poor pollination in your crop. This means that you need to help the plant and control the climate in the greenhouse, through shading, for example,’ Mark explains.
Koppert and the assimilate balance
When looking at plant health, sugar production plays a very important role. Sugars are the building blocks for the rest of the energy compounds like proteins, fats and secondary metabolites (vitamins, anti-oxidants etc.). This is called the plant health pyramid (include figure). Each level is connected with a potential problem a grower could have with pests or diseases. Level 2, for example, is directly connected to aphid problems. In the pyramid the assimilate balance and nutrition merge to enhance plant health. The assimilate balance provides sugars and nutrition provides other minerals needed to build higher compounds (lipids, oils, SM, etc.).
Many growers give their crops far too much nitrogen. The result is that plants begin to suffer from a form of plant obesity and then end up with all manner of imbalances. You may, for example, have a surplus of nitrogen which is evident in a surplus of amino acids, not converted into proteins, that causes the aphids to flock to the crop en masse. So it is essential to have this energy pyramid working optimally. This can only be done with preventative thinking. According to Mark, the plant can resolve many problems itself, provided that the nutrients are right. As soon as the grower has this under control, it is time to give the plant that little extra support during moments of stress using Koppert’s plant resilience products, like biofungicides and biostimulants. In order to achieve the desired effect, the nutrient regime needs to be right.
Koppert and the water balance
In order to create healthy plants, it is important to create an environment around the roots where micro life can thrive again. We need to restore the symbiotic relationship between plants and micro life. This is only possible with the right environment (substrate and amendments), good nutrition and a good water strategy.
Better results in a sustainable manner
Koppert’s partnership with Plant Empowerment was formalized with the establishment of the Plant Empowerment Sustainable Growing Foundation during GreenTech in June 2019. The relationship was established to make growers, consultants and investors familiar with the Growing by Plant Empowerment (GPE) concept worldwide. Applying this data-driven concept will allow growers to gain better yields with a higher quality in a sustainable manner, while reducing the incidence of pests and diseases to a minimum.
Source of the image: John Kempf – johnkempf.com