Landscape Lessons – Peter's Solutions (Part 1)

Peter Chong is a leading biological agriculture consultant in Asia. We have discussed his work and findings in Malaysia in an earlier blog, but during my recent tour of Asia I was treated to an update. Peter has been the chief troubleshooter for Nature Landscapes in Singapore for the past seven months. Headed by master landscape architect and exclusive NTS distributor, Michael Teh, Nature Landscapes is the garden city’s largest landscape company with almost 600 workers. Peter works with nurseries, landscape projects, golf courses, community gardens (there are 700 community gardens in Singapore) and farms in Singapore and surrounding countries. Peter shared some of his recent experiences and learnings:

Harnessing "The Second Sun"

Peter has been working on a project involving leading landscape consultants, Tierra Design. They had no answers for a shaded turf grass area planted with El Toro grass, a sun-loving species. The turf was patchy and lacked vigour. Peter understands a unique property of fulvic acid, where this natural substance can substitute for sunlight, and photosynthesis can continue in low light conditions. In this instance, he decided to utilise this potential by combining fulvic acid with a mixture of trace minerals, biostimulants and photosynthesis enhancers. The NTS product that best provides this broad-spectrum nutrition is the popular liquid fertiliser, Triple Ten™. Additional fulvic acid was also applied as NTS Fulvic Acid Powder™. Peter decided that these sand-based soils also required the help of humic acid, to retain the added nutrition. He applied NTS Soluble Humate Granules™ at a rate of 2 grams per m2. Humic acid holds seven times its own weight in water and can also help retain minerals in the root zone.

The enhancement of photosynthesis was achieved through the inclusion of triacontanol. Triacontanol is a plant growth promoter, which enhances every aspect of photosynthesis. Even though this substance is included in the Triple Ten™ formulation, Peter decided that an additional boost was required.

There was also evidence of fungal disease in the struggling turfgrass and when Peter checked beneath the roots he also found grass grubs. A single fertigated application of Nutri-Life Tricho-Shield™ and Nutri-Life Myco-Force™ successfully rebalanced the biology. The results were remarkable. An area that had only ever supported a sparse, patchy coverage of substandard turf grass was transformed over a four-week period (see photos below).

turf pre-treatment

Original condition of turf

turf post-treatment

Post-treatment – 4 weeks later

Detoxing Herbicide Residues

One of Peter's other troubleshooting experiences involved a major mistake on an area of ground cover. Here, a combination of pre-emergent and post-emergent herbicides had been used to control weeds amongst the landscaping. Unfortunately, this strategy backfired and resulted in the death of a large percentage of the ground cover. The surviving plants were stunted and dormant. The landscape managers tried drenching the soil with huge amounts of water and they also tried replacing the plants. However, the damage had been done and it seemed like there was no way back.

Peter decided to use the NTS Detox Program to recover this contaminated soil and damaged crop. This involves high doses of fulvic acid applied to the area. We have found that fulvic acid can capture contaminants and aid with their removal. It is a tremendously absorbent material that can absorb chemical residues and, because it is a very small molecule, it can be leached along with the undesirable substance. It can also trigger biodegradation of these substances. Fulvic acid is the most powerful known bacterial stimulant and it is bacteria that biodegrade chemical residues. The bacteria arrive, like bees to a honey pot, and perform their cleansing role. It is akin to the Mary Poppins’ strategy where "a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down".

In this instance, Peter dissolved the soluble fulvic acid powder at 3 g/L and this solution was applied at the equivalent of 3 kg/ha. Two applications within a month were required. Within that month, the difference started to become very obvious. The remaining plants reclaimed their vigour and the cleansed soil delivered a rapid expansion of ground cover so that the Sphagneticola trilobata (the species involved) recovered the entire area (see photos below).

wedelia pre-treatment

Ground cover treated with herbicide cocktail

wedelia post-treatment

After drenching with fulvic acid

wedelia final treatment

Full recovery of ground cover – 2 months later

Next week we will look at more of Peter's innovative problem-solving strategies. Examples of practical implementation of products can often prove helpful.

To read Part 2 of this article, please click here.

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