This year, to date, I have visited fifteen countries and I have visits to at least fifteen more destinations scheduled before the year’s end. It feels as though the world has awoken and there is an urgency to update and improve an agricultural model that is no longer serving us. Sometimes during my diverse travels I encounter a consultant who simply stands out from the crowd. When this occurs, I like to share some insights from these special people.
During a recent visit to Malaysia, I spent two days with Peter Chong. Peter attended my four-day course some years ago, but since then he has mastered the core Nutrition Farming® principles to the point that he is now a problem-solving asset to all farmers seeking his advice.
Here, in no particular order, are some of Peter’s findings after several years as a Nutrition Farming® consultant and primary producer in Asia:
Lessons from the Chili Farm
One of the most serious issues for chili farmers in Malaysia is mites. Many growers were completely wiped out this past season because of an insecticide resistance amongst these destructive sap suckers. The losses were substantial, as some growers sprayed expensive insecticides twice a week before they abandoned their crops.
Peter grows 10,000 chilies in plastic bags and he is attracting much interest because he has achieved a series of excellent crops without insecticides or mite pressure. He attributes this feat to superior nutrition. Here are some of the things that have worked for him:
1) He has found that weekly applications of Calcium Shuttle™ have proven very effective against mites and thrips. This is not what the product is used for and it is certainly not registered for this purpose. These tiny insects quickly disappear amidst a flurry of new undamaged growth. This is the first time I have heard of this response from this product. Calcium Shuttle™ is a remarkable vehicle for the delivery of calcium. In this instance, we can only assume that the cell-strengthening impact of superb calcium delivery is such that it physically repels these sap suckers. Why try to chew on leather when you can easily fly elsewhere to feast on cake?
2) Peter has also discovered the secret of low-dose/high-response foliar fertilising. He is a big fan of Trio (CMB) Foliar™ in this context. Every week he foliar sprays 1000 litres of water on 10,000 plants (1 hectare of chilies) containing just 250 mL of Trio™. The recommended application rate, at a dilution rate of 1:100, would be 10 L of Trio™ per 1000 L of water. Peter is actually using one fortieth of this rate and achieving a wonderful response from this combination of chelated calcium, magnesium and boron. He claims a considerable increase in fruit numbers and the fruit are all long, even, well shaped and more marketable.
3) Peter grows in a coco peat medium using a Part A and Part B hydroponic mix. He has found that the addition of fulvic acid to both mixes serves to magnify their response. He has also found that coco peat is a perfect medium for the addition of silica via our liquid micronised diatomaceous earth product, Dia-Life™. The Dia-Life™ seems to be retained in this medium to provide ongoing delivery of silica for enhanced cell strength. Dia-Life™ is also foliar sprayed on the crop along with neem oil (Nutri-Neem™) and Cloak™ Spray Oil to stick it to the leaf.
4) Peter is also a big supporter of Trichoderma. He believes that his monthly application of this beneficial fungi via fertigation is a big player in his complete absence of fungal disease. He has not used a single fungicide in the past two years. Trichoderma is a wonderful creature that offers four distinct benefits. It is a predatory fungi, known to predate upon a wide range of pathogens including Pythium, Rhizoctonia, Phytophthora and Fusarium. It is also a phosphate-solubilisising organism, and a cellulose-digester that converts fibrous material into humus. Finally, Trichoderma also produce biochemicals that stimulate plant immunity. What a package to be sure! Trichoderma love the peat moss medium, as many nurserymen have discovered around the globe. These growers commonly report a dramatic reduction in the need for chemicals with the regular use of Trichoderma.
Successful Strategies in Asian Agriculture
Peter works with a variety of Asian growers. In his work with bananas he has seen tremendous results with foliar sprays of urea and humic acid. He typically advises 20 kg of low biuret urea with 1 kg of Soluble Humate Granules™ per hectare. The humate granules are generally pre-dissolved at a rate of 1 kg per 10 L of water to create your own, remarkably cost-effective, DIY humic acid. Here’s how it works – simply add 20 kg of Soluble Humate Granules™ to a 200 L drum of water. Stir it from time to time over a 24-hour period to dissolve the granules, then leave the small, insoluble fraction to accumulate at the bottom of the drum. Pump off the DIY humic acid into 20 L drums and pour the undissolved sludge over vegetable gardens or fruit trees, because it is a remarkable fertiliser. You have now made your own humic acid for less than 30 cents per litre. Compare that to the cost of humic acid in a bottle.
Peter has also found that bananas are particularly responsive to K-Rich™ from NTS. This is a potassium concentrate in a buffered medium that offers super-efficient potassium nutrition. This is of particular importance to bananas, as they contain more potassium than any other fruit. Peter finds that it is critically important to include Cloak™ Spray Oil with both the K-Rich™ and the urea/humic foliars, because this ensures the wetting and sticking of these nutrients when dealing with the impenetrable gloss of the banana leaf.
Peter works with Malaysia’s largest organic farm, Zenxin Agri-Organic Food. In unresponsive plots he has had great results using the regenerative impact of high-dose fulvic acid. Fulvic acid can neutralise soil contaminants at higher doses. European growers seeking the fast tracking of organic certification commonly cleanse their soils with 3 kg of NTS Fulvic Acid Powder™. This material absorbs and bonds to contaminants. Bacteria swarm towards the fulvic, as it is their favourite food. When consuming this food they inadvertently biodegrade the contaminants it has absorbed. Consistent with his low-dose philosophy, Peter uses just 1 kg of Fulvic Acid Powder™ per hectare along with the bio-promoting impact of 500 g of Tri-Kelp™ and just 2 L of Nutri-Sea Liquid Fish™ per hectare.
These large scale organic growers have had great results fertigating Micronised Mineral Suspensions. Their favourites are Phos-Life Organic™, Mag-Life Organic™ and Dia-Life Organic™. Together, these products deliver all-important calcium, magnesium and phosphorus (three of “The Big Four”) along with the cell-strengthening and immune-stimulating power of silica.
Tri-Kelp™ Soluble Seaweed Powder is also a big part of their program. This blend of three kelp varieties has been shown to outperform most single variety kelp products, at half the price. Zenzing use 300 g of Tri-Kelp™ on all crops every week.
Peter had some other success stories to share. His company recently won a major contract in the timber industry, where Triple Ten™ has proven remarkably effective in the nurseries. The young trees can apparently double their growth rates when they are regularly foliar sprayed with Triple Ten™.
Peter supervised a trial of triacontanol on rice. The growers were amazed when this natural plant growth promoter produced a yield increase of over 60% from just three inexpensive applications.
NTS Fulvic Acid Powder™, foliar sprayed at just 1 gram per litre, has proven to be a great additive for all bean crops. It appears that the legumes have an affinity for this natural acid. We have certainly witnessed the explosion of clover (another legume) in pasture situations, following the application of fulvic acid. In fact, it has become a standard strategy for dairymen who are aware of the potential.
Peter has also enjoyed a good response from our most popular microbe inoculum, Nutri-Life 4/20™. This blend of key beneficial bacteria and fungi can be manipulated with a simple addition, when brewing, to create a tank full of bacteria or beneficial fungi.
Peter Chong is a prime example of an agronomist who recognised the basic common sense of working with nature rather than against her and he is well on the way to mastering the exciting Nutrition Farming® approach. In September, he will move to Singapore to take up the role of head agronomist with Nature Landscapes, our new Master Distributor in this region.