Tri-Kelp™ – A Multi Purpose Marvel

If you have yet to discover the many benefits of kelp in agriculture, then do yourself a favour and experiment with foliar spays or soil applications of liquid seaweed in your particular crop. There are now no cost limitations upon the use of kelp because the introduction of Tri-Kelp™ soluble seaweed powder from NTS has effectively re-written the rules relating to kelp usage. Where this plant growth promoter was once considered a costly but highly effective inclusion in intensive horticulture, it can now be used in every situation, including pasture and broadacre crops. Tri-Kelp™ is a highly concentrated powder that is productive at application rates of just 1 gram per litre for foliar applications or 500 grams per hectare in the soil.

Liquid seaweed fertilisers, which have grown increasingly popular in the local marketplace over the past two decades, typically involve 10% solids, and retail for around $12.00 per litre. You can now produce your own 10% liquid kelp by adding 100 grams of Tri-Kelp™ powder to one litre of water (10%) at a cost of around $2.00 per litre (and you no longer need to transport 90% water around the country). However, this dramatic reduction in price is just the first factor in a long list of reasons to explore the use of Tri-Kelp™ in your enterprise.

Kelp boosts nutrient uptake, provides the full spectrum of minerals from the ocean, increases shelf life, improves reproduction, enhances root growth and supports the plant’s immune system. It is also a powerful promotant of the beneficial fungi that sequester stable carbon in the soil (cellulose digesting fungi). These creatures are arguably the most important life form on the planet at this point in time, as they represent the most rapid and effective means to remove excess CO2 from the atmosphere and return it to the soil. Building humus in your soil is not just an environmental imperative, it is also set to become a second income stream for growers when carbon credits are introduced (and kelp will prove a major player in this biological process).

Kelp Ain’t Kelp

Does this mean that all liquid seaweed products will perform these roles equally (aside from the cost comparison)? No, this is definitely not the case. All kelp fertilisers are beneficial, but there is a distinct variation in performance, based upon where the seaweed came from, the percentage solids, the kelp species involved and the level of contamination.

Unfortunately, some of the cheap Chinese kelp products have become notorious for heavy metal contamination, as they are often sourced from polluted waters and kelp tends to accumulate heavy metals.  There is also variation amongst the European and Canadian soluble kelp powders. However, most of these products are based on the same species (Ascophyllum nodosum) and the difference lies in how well they disperse and dissolve in water.

Tri-Kelp™ is an easily dissolved powder that compares with the very best of the high-end products, at a fraction of the price. It is manufactured for NTS in China and the raw ingredients were stringently sourced to ensure a high quality, uncontaminated, inexpensive alternative. Tri-Kelp™ is unique in that it features a special ratio of three of the most successful commercial kelp varieties. In effect, it delivers the best that seaweed fertilisers can offer and we encourage growers to trial Tri-Kelp™ against any other kelp they have used in the past. To date, we have yet to find a single grower who was not impressed.

Why Three is Better Than One

Tri-Kelp™ contains a distinctive blend of LaminariaSargassum and Ascophyllum nodosum and each of these species has something special to offer. Laminaria, for example, contains twice the iodine of any other kelp and this mineral, essential for thyroid health in animals and humans, may yet prove to have benefits for plant health (aside from its sterilising capacity). Sargassum contains luxury levels of glycine betaine, a compound that has anti-transpirant qualities (to boost drought resistance and reduce irrigation requirements) and has been shown to boost both photosynthesis and nitrogen fixation (according to research conducted on soybeans in WA in 1975). Glycine betaine also increases tolerance to salinity and has been linked to frost resistance. Ascophyllum nodosum has very high levels of cytokinins, which extend shelf-life, increase stress resistance and assist in the recovery from nematode damage.

DIY Kelp Chelation

Many kelp users are not aware that they can combine kelp with other minerals to chelate these nutrients and increase their uptake. Chelation involves the neutralisation of positively charged minerals so they don’t clog pores in the rush toward a negatively charged plant surface (like the attraction of metal to a magnet). Chelated minerals have been shown to enter the plant much more effectively. If you are planning to foliar fertilise with Tri-Kelp™, then it is a wasted opportunity if you don’t include any other nutrients that may be required. Mannitol, the long chain carbohydrate present in Tri-Kelp™, will provide DIY chelation that can represent considerable savings (particularly when considering the cost of EDTA chelates).

Mineral Punch

In agriculture we typically look at 14 minerals but there were over 70 minerals in the first cell that oozed from the Precambrian Ocean and it would seem logical that they were all present for a purpose. Each crop removes minerals and this demineralisation is magnified with leaching, erosion and the loss of the humus storehouse (our soils have lost an average of 70% of their organic matter in the last 100 years). The replacement of the full spectrum of trace minerals seems a sensible strategy even if we have yet to confirm their roles in plant nutrition. Tri-Kelp™ offers a naturally complexed, balanced source of all of these minerals. The improvement in flavour, so often attributed to the use of kelp, may be partially linked to this broad-spectrum mineralisation.

Vitamins for Plant Health

Vitamins are manufactured in the plant using mineral building blocks, so we would expect to see good vitamin levels in a mineral-rich plant like kelp. In fact, kelp is a chief source of carotenes used as human supplements and it has very high levels of the B group vitamins (including B12, which is not found in land plants). It also features an exceptional vitamin C component with levels ranging from 1000ppm to 3000ppm. Indian research has revealed that niacin, riboflavin and folic acid offer plants immune support while promoting growth and increasing yield.

However, it is the vitamin C research from the US and Japan that is proving the most exciting. Plants produce antioxidants for their own benefit rather than ours. However, it is no accident that they are also the primary source of antioxidant protection for animals and humans. Have you ever wondered how a plant can stand in direct sunlight from daylight to dark without suffering from UV damage? The secret is partially linked to vitamin C and its protective role within the plant. vitamin C reduces photo-oxidative stress and it is also linked to drought protection. The foliar application of vitamin-rich substances can offer considerable benefit. The high vitamin levels in Tri-Kelp™ are another part of a comprehensive plant health package.

Plant Growth Promoters

All plants produce cytokinins, gibberellins, auxins and betaines and these substances are required for every stage of plant growth, from root initiation to reproduction. Like vitamins, the building blocks for these nutrients are minerals, and these minerals have been seriously depleted from our soils. Microorganisms in the soil also produce these plant growth promoters and supply them to plants in return for the sugars exuded from the roots. The bugs know that the better they look after their hosts, the more they will be fed.

However, these organisms have often been compromised by chemical farming practices and this loss of minerals and microbes effectively means that most land-based plants are, to some degree, deficient in these key plant growth promoters. The ocean, in contrast, is a perfectly balanced mineral medium, and as a result, kelp contains 40 times more cytokinins, gibberellins, auxins and betaines than land plants. In fact the phenomenal growth of kelp (30 cm per day) is largely sponsored by these promoters. It is often these plant growth promoters that provide much of the punch when fertilizing with liquid kelp. They are only required in tiny amounts, hence the powerful Tri-Kelp™ response at just 1 gram per litre!

From Seed To Shelf-Life

Seed treatment is one of the most cost-effective strategies in the growing enterprise and the most researched and productive material for seed treatment is kelp. Research quantifies increased germination rates, a shorter germination period and a marked kick start for the seedling, for a tiny investment. Kelp has also been shown to reduce transplant shock and it can be used as a “rescue remedy” to counter stressors like drought, hail and climate extremes. Professor T. L. Senn has dedicated much of his professional career to kelp research. He has demonstrated marked increases in shelf life with produce that has been foliar sprayed with kelp. He has even shown that dipping capsicums in kelp, post harvest, will increase their shelf life. Seaweed extracts increase shelf life through inducing delayed senescence which extends the time between harvest and the hormone-induced breakdown of fruit and vegetables.

In Conclusion

Kelp has become one of the three biological essentials in the production of any crop. The advent of soluble powders, that retain all of the qualities of liquid kelp without having to pay to transport water, has been a major benefit to kelp users.  The development of Tri-Kelp™, a unique fusion of three of the most productive kelp species in a user-friendly soluble powder concentrate (at half the price of other powders) promises to be of equal importance. Contact NTS if you would like to compare Tri-Kelp™ to your current kelp product on +61 7 5472 9900 or sales@nutri-tech.com.au.

Note: Prices listed are estimations and in AUD currency.

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